Antarctica is the last great frontier for many travelers, the final seventh continent they want to check off their bucket list.
An Antarctica tour requires a certain amount of hardiness, good mobility, and a strong dollop of flexibility. Even though cruises to Antarctica go in the warmest times of the year, this is still a harsh environment on the bottom of the planet, a place where the weather can change in a hurry and storms can be brutal.
Back on the ship though, you'll be warm, dry, and well-fed. Just keep in mind the same kind of catamaran that can cruise around warmer waters would not survive a week here, so many of the vessels are retrofitted icebreakers that previously served time in Siberia or Greenland. They're comfortable enough, but expect to spend a lot more than you would in other locations for an upgraded level of luxury. Naturally the guides make a huge difference here too, so spending more for a company with a great reputation means you'll probably get more out of the experience.
The worst part of the journey for many is the rough crossing of the Drake Passage. Some choose to skip this altogether by flying across from Chile and meeting up with the cruise ship in Antarctica itself. Most other journeys depart from Ushuaia in Argentina, the southernmost city on Earth.
No matter how you vacation in Antarctica, you'll see teeming wildlife and stark white landscapes of quiet beauty and creaking ice. The tour companies serving this area will supply boots and parkas though, so you can use your packing space for photography gear and lots of layers.
Here we provide some detailes on what your journey will be like in our feature stories, plus we've got a review of the top hotel to stay at before or after departure in Ushuaia. We've also got a link to blog posts with wildlife information and travel tips.
Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa — Ushuaia