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Expedition Travel Guide to Antarctica

Antarctica is the pinnacle of expedition and adventure travel! Start planning your journey to exploring this pristine world of ice, wildlife, and awe-inspiring beauty.

Antarctica | Like nowhere else on earth

Undertaking an expedition cruise to Antarctica is the pinnacle of adventure, a journey to the southernmost reaches of the planet, where untouched landscapes and awe-inspiring wildlife converge in this frozen wonderland. From the towering icebergs and snowcapped peaks of the Antarctic Peninsula to the charismatic penguins of South Georgia, each day is a unique chance to experience the mysteries of this pristine wilderness.

This guide takes you through the most frequently asked questions about travelling to Antarctica! Discover the best time to undertake this polar journey, ensuring optimal conditions for wildlife encounters and stunning landscapes. Get insider tips on selecting the ideal expedition cruise with the help of our Expedition team and how to pack for the everchanging Antarctic conditions.

Whether you're a seasoned explorer or a first-time adventurer, this guide will help to plan your trip, ensuring your expedition to Antarctica is a seamless, enriching, and unforgettable experience at the edge of the world.

Know Before You Go

What do I need to pack for Antarctica?

Even though we journey to Antarctica during the warmer summer months, the weather is unpredictable and changes quickly. Be sure to pack lots of warm insulated layers, waterproofs, gloves, and hats.

To ensure we are IAATO compliant, we will lend you rubber boots to wear ashore.

When is the best time to visit Antarctica?

The best time for an Antarctic expedition cruise is during the austral summer, from November to March.

This time brings slightly milder temperatures, an abundance of wildlife activity, and the chance to witness breathtaking landscapes from both sea and land.

How do you get to Antarctica?

For our expeditions to Antarctica, we sail out of two ports - Ushuaia, Argentina for sailings on MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Roald Amundsen or Punta Arenas, Chile for sailings on MS Fram.

However, depending on the expedition you undertake, we offer return flights between major airports within Argentina and Chile to smaller regional airports.

How will I explore Antarctica? What is a typical day like?

One of the joys of an Expedition Cruise to Antarctica is that there is no 'typical day'. Flexibility is key, as conditions can be unpredictable, and the safety of passengers and crew is the top priority. One thing we can be certain of is that we are ready from Plan A to Plan Z - each day is dynamic and filled with a variety of activities that take advantage of the unique environment and locations.

Even though your expedition ship is specially designed for sailing amongst the waters of Antarctica, there are limits on where it can go. Our small expedition boats allow us to easily navigate the icy maze, getting you closer to the rich wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. Where the conditions allow, we will use these boats to get ashore for land exploration including hikes, snowshoeing, or if lucky a night spent sleeping out on the ice.

Or what could be better than drifting alongside icebergs or past penguins diving into crystal-clear water? Where the conditions allow, you can take to the water in sea kayaks for a more intimate experience with these frozen landscapes.

Please Note: Actual activities & excursions are subject to availability.

How can I get involved with the Science & Education program?

For over 20 years we have been exploring Antarctica, during this time we have been proud to of helped and supported hundreds of scientists, research projects, universities, and organisations to undertake world-leading research. Today we continue and the 2023/24 season is set to be the biggest yet with new projects coming on board and plenty of opportunities for guests to get involved.

The onboard Science & Education team aims to unlock your inner scientist with numerous hands-on experiences helping you to get a better understanding of the world around where we sail. From researching the impact of climate change on animal populations and sea ice to getting a better understanding of migratory patterns of marine life or meteorological observations in partnership with NASA. We have multiple Citizen Science Projects for you to get involved with.

We are occasionally joined onboard by various international research groups, universities, or scientists. They make use of the expedition boats to access the remote parts of Antarctica, in return many often run guest lectures or workshops for you to get involved with. When you get onboard, speak to a member of our Expedition Team who will be able to provide more information about the projects taking place on board your ship.

Don't just take our word for it! Check out the HX Insiders Facebook Group - where previous guests share their thoughts, tips, and highlights about their time onboard an expedition.

How do I find the right voyage?

Best Unique Itinerary

Voyage to the late Summer Sun | 24 Days

This is one of our newest voyages onboard MS Maud, as she makes her return to Antarctica in 2025. Giving you everything you need for an extended expedition around South America - from the vibrant culture of Santiago and Buenos Aires to the rich history of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and not forgetting the unique wildlife and landscapes of Antarctica.

With the added bonus of sailing late into the Antarctic Summer, the extended hours of daylight allow you to pack more into your time onboard.

Best for first timers

Highlights of Antarctica | 12 Days

Whether you're a first-timer to expedition cruising or to Antarctica, this itinerary gives you a good introduction to both. The 5 days spent amongst the icy maze of the Antarctic Peninsula are unscripted and unplanned, welcome to true Expedition Cruising.

Each itinerary is slightly different as it depends upon the sea and weather conditions, but we hope you will have a range of opportunities to meet some of the 12 million local penguin residents who live on the ice, take part in citizen science projects and marvel at the rugged antarctic landscape.

Best for Wildlife & Wilderness

In-depth Antarctica, Falklands & South Georgia | 23 Days

Sailing onboard one of the smallest ships in our fleet - MS Fram, this itinerary will take you to some of the more remote parts of Antarctica and the islands of the Atlantic Ocean.

Taking in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, we hope to visit the penguin and bird colonies of these remote islands. Spending 4 days around the Antarctic Peninsula, weather dependant you can get amongst the sea ice and if you are lucky, intimate encounters with the area's unique wildlife.

MS Roald Amundsen anchored off Snowhill Island, Antarctica. Credit: Espen Mills.

Sail in the wake of histories greatest explorers.

With a range of 12 to 24 days expeditions to Antarctica, we have the perfect voyage for you explore this frozen wonderland at the edge of the world.

See all cruises to Antarctica

When is the best time to visit Antarctica?

Sitting at and around the South Pole, Antarctica experiences some of the harshest weather conditions on Earth rendering it uninhabited for many months of the year. During the Antarctic winter (April to September), the continent sits in darkness with winds reaching up to 100 mph (160 kph) and temperatures as low as -34 degrees Celcius (-30 degrees Fahrenheit).

In contrast, the best time to visit Antarctica is during the summer months of late November to early March, when the continent experiences milder temperatures, less sea ice, and longer daylight hours, making it more suitable for exploration. It's during this time that the waters, air, and land come alive with the arrival of an array of wildlife species, including penguins, seals, whales, and seabirds, as they return to the continent for breeding. January and February are considered the peak months for visiting, when the temperatures are relatively warmer, and wildlife activity is at its highest. You can also experience the mesmerising midnight sun phenomenon, where the sun remains visible for almost 24 hours in a day.

It's good to remember that even though we journey to Antarctica during the summer months, the weather can be unpredictable and the conditions change quickly. To ensure you are fully prepared, we have pulled together a recommended packing list for Antarctica, which you can find in this guide.

How do you get to Antarctica?

Depending on the expedition you choose, we have return flights in the economy between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia in Argentina or Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas in Chile included in the cost of your voyage.

  • These flights are operated by different South American airline partners.

  • They usually depart Buenos Aires/Santiago de Chile early in the morning and land back in Buenos Aires/Santiago de Chile late at night.

  • We strongly recommend arranging overnight accommodation, as airlines don't confirm flight times until a few days before departure.

Please Note: On these flights, we only book guests into economy class and no upgrades in higher booking classes are possible. You can travel with checked luggage (Max. 23kg), and bring one carry-on bag on board (Max. 8kg). Allowance may differ between long and short-haul flights - please check the baggage terms and conditions and you are within all luggage allowances. We are unable to accept responsibility if you miss your own booked flight in the event of a delay of the included flight. The latest information will be provided within your travel documents

What to pack for an expedition to Antarctica?

Even though Antarctica is cold enough to be the only uninhabitable continent on the face of the planet, you are not going to freeze while you're visiting. When you're packing for your Antarctic Expedition there's one piece of sage advice you should always carry with you: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing."

To help you prepare we recommend packing the following for your expedition to Antarctica:

  • Waterproof trousers

  • Woolen underlayers and second layers

  • Thin woolen socks, and thick top-layer socks

  • Polarised sunglasses and sunscreen

  • Underlayer gloves, top layer gloves

  • A warm hat that covers your ears

  • Moisturiser and lip balm

  • A face mask to prevent windburn

  • A water bottle that’s insulated against cold

  • A pair of casual shoes for use onboard

Don't forget you will receive a a reusable aluminum water bottle, which is yours to keep at the end of the expedition.

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