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What you need to know about getting to Antarctica on the “cheap”. It’s easy. You just need 2 weeks and $5000

Summary

This blog explains the following in more detail:

  • The boat trip to Antarctica
  • When you can go (October to March)
  • Price ($5000-$20, 000)
  • Boat options, from small vessel to 5-star cruise ships
  • Where to go to
  • Where to buy tickets

Antarctica

Antarctica is the most magically pure place on planet earth and it is easy to get to as long as you can spare a couple of weeks and $5000 minus the cost to get to Ushuaia, which is a $200 plane ride from Buenos Aires in Argentina. Just don’t drink alcohol for a year and then you’ll probably be able to afford it.
It is a 5 day sea voyage there and back across some rough seas, and 5 days on the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula mountain range, which is basically the Andes mountain range going under the sea from the tip of South America and coming back out again to connect to Antarctica (pretty fooking cool completely caked in snow and ice). You’ll see Sea Lions/Leopards, Humpback Whales, Penguins (they stink pretty bad) beautiful icebergs sculptured by the sea and mega tabular icebergs that are life floating ice cliffs. Yeah, you will probably feel seasick on the way there but you will not complain if you see what I saw.
You can get good last minute deals for about $5000 for 10-day trip, 5 of which is travelling there and back. I went in March, on the Ushuaia boat with Antarpply Expeditions for $4800 booked through the agency freestyleadventuretravel.com. Great food, great staff, very good agency and the most magical experience of my life! Worth every penny!

When to go (October to March)

The season is only open in the summer which is between October and March. To the end of March, you will have more opportunities to see the majestic whales. I was driving down on a motorbike I bought in Peru and my time was running out so I squeezed in on a boat in March. After March it gets too cold and ices up and you can’t get to the peninsula until it melts again in October (unless you are on an icebreaker).

Price ($5000-$20, 000)

There are a number of companies selling tickets, both direct and indirect. A few specialise in last minute deals which are the most affordable. The cheapest I found with no extras is $5000 that spends 5 days on the Antarctic peninsula. It is rare to find them cheaper but it is not impossible. There are others that incorporate more days and more areas like South Georgia, which is one of few places you can see those big ass 1 metre tall Emperor Penguins. Also, there are activities like camping on Antarctica (normally you sleep on the boat and take day trips to land), scuba diving, kayaking etc. All these options, including bed upgrades, will cost you up to $20, 000.

Boats options

There is a large fleet of boats, about 20-30 that make this trip non-stop back and forth for half a year every year, delivering 40, 000-50, 000 tourists each season. A lot more than I presumed or expected. Some of the boats like The Ushuaia, which I was on are small (90 tourists and plenty of staff, no fancy extras), others are up to 200 passengers with jacuzzis, gyms, saunas libraries etc. The fewer passengers the more personal the experience you will have as you will get to know the staff better as well as the other guests on board. Plus there is a limit to the number of people on land each time so the more people on your boat the less time you will have on Antarctica itself. That aside, the larger boats also look cool as fook so whatever you fancy!

Where to go to

You need to get to Ushuaia to start the journey, the most Southerly town on the planet. However, you can purchase the tickets before you get there. Sounds like it would be small and cosy but it is pretty damn big. I drove there on my Chinese motorbike and turned up to find a fairly big and bustling port town of about 60, 000 people. Domestic flights are always cheaper and this is no exception. The cheapest option is a flight from the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, and is about $200-$300. Some ticket prices include flight from here but the budget cheaper ones generally do not.

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