Last Updated on October 5, 2023
Antarctica is a remote, frozen land filled with stunning natural scenery. It is a great place for adventurers and nature lovers alike. However, traveling to Antarctica can be expensive and extremely dangerous. Planning a trip to Antarctica takes careful planning and consideration.
Below we outline all the good and bad about traveling to Antarctica so you can decide if this is the adventure trip for you.
A haven for wildlife enthusiasts, Antarctica offers the opportunity to witness whales, penguins, and seals in their natural habitat. They are a true testament to nature’s resilience in some of the harshest environments in the world.
The iconic Emperor penguin colonies are a sight to behold. Some penguins in Antarctica are very curious and will often come up to visitors. Other interesting seabirds you will encounter here are albatrosses, petrels, cormorants, and even ducks.
You’ll witness seals playing in the icy waters including the Weddell, Leopard, and Ross species. Many travelers are drawn to Antarctica to witness the majestic whales like Humpbacks and Orcas. Some are even brave enough to swim with these beautiful creatures. An experience you will not soon forget!
It truly offers a deeper appreciation for the wildlife and their lives in the icy wonderland of Antarctica.
Freedom to Explore
The freedom to explore attracts most visitors to unspoiled destinations like the Antarctic. The open spaces, clean air, and a chance to view the Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights) are major draw cards. It’s also not as difficult to get there as in the past.
You don’t need to be a polar researcher on a scientific expedition. Polar cruises are becoming more widely available, so everyone can now experience the awe and wonder of the Antarctic. And because it’s still one of the least visited destinations, you’ll have an experience that your friends only dream about.
Logistics and Costs
If you want to visit Antarctica, you’ll likely be booking a polar cruise and expedition. One of the benefits of any cruise is that it includes your accommodation and meals. Outdoor gear for the extremes of polar exploration is generally included with your Antarctic tour package.
Not having to worry about accommodation and meals certainly makes life easier. You can just go ahead and enjoy your trip, without the hassles of multiple bookings. There’s also no need to keep a supply of foreign currency on hand.
In Antarctica, you will experience some of the most remote scenery in the world. Most of it untouched by man. Make sure your camera gear is on your packing list because you will want to capture this unspoiled scenery.
Antarctica is home to more than 90% of the world’s iceberg mass, and its waters offer glimpses of whales and dolphins.
No Polar Bears To See Here
If you’ve dreamed of seeing polar bears in their natural environment, you’re in the wrong place. Despite their name, polar bears are not found in both polar regions, only in the Arctic. Many travelers have learned this too late, and been disappointed.
Harsh Weather Conditions
Extreme cold temperatures that can plummet below freezing at any moment and wind speeds reaching up to 200 mph make this a difficult trip for those who are unprepared. The weather conditions can change in a matter of seconds and disrupt your travel plans or activities.
The challenging terrain and weather conditions can demand physical stamina and adaptability. Activities like hiking and kayaking may require a reasonable level of fitness.
Not Affordable For Everyone
It’s possible to enjoy travel to the Arctic Circle and places like Iceland on a shoestring budget. But regardless of which tour operator you choose, the fact is, Antarctic travel is more expensive. Compared to other destinations and forms of travel, an Antarctic Cruise is not the most affordable option.
The costs are not always as straightforward as they appear, so check the fine print before booking a trip. You’ll have to factor in the cost of your flight to the point of embarkation (and disembarkation), the cruise, and extras like on-land treks. This can be expensive if you’re traveling with your extended family.
Not only the travel costs but due to these extreme weather conditions you’ll need to pack specialized gear such as cold-weather clothing, waterproof boots, and more. This will certainly add to the budget for your trip.
Unfortunately, your freedom to move around is subject to severe limitations. These are in place to protect the natural heritage of the Antarctic and reduce the carbon footprints tourists leave behind. The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) oversees these regulations.
Per IAATO regulations, only 100 people at any given time may set foot on the continent’s landing sites. Ships carrying more than 500 passengers on board are not allowed to berth here. All visitors must also maintain a distance of 5 meters (16,40 ft) away from wildlife and their nesting grounds at all times.
Long Isolated Journey
The journey to Antarctica is long and covers treacherous waters. Seasickness is a real possibility. Once you arrive in Antarctica, it’s a remote landscape with little to no resources. Accommodations are functional but do not expect a luxury vacation. You will need to have a plan in case of emergencies. This kind of remote, roughing-it type of travel experience is not for everyone.