I’d love to visit the Antarctic but I’m not sure how to get there or what it will cost. Can you offer some advice please? Derek, Maidstone
The Antarctic is the most remote wilderness left on the planet and although tourism to the area is increasing, the difficulty of getting there still means under 50,000 people visit each year.
The pristine natural history is heavily protected by international treaties and every visitor needs a permit to set foot on the Antarctic, although if you go on an organised tour, the operator will most likely obtain this for you.
The easiest way to reach the continent is on a cruise. Several large and small vessels now include the Antarctic on their itineraries, often as part of a wider trip around South America and taking in places such as Santiago, Buenos Aires and the Falkland Islands. Most ships will leave from Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina. It’s an interesting city in itself, being immersed in the history of Antarctic exploration and travel.
The type of vessel you travel on will have an impact on what you see and experience. The Drake Passage between Tierra del Fuego and the Antarctic Peninsula is notoriously rough, so if you have poor sea legs, you might want to go on a larger ship with better stabilisation. But larger vessels above 500 passengers aren’t allowed to put people ashore, so you’ll only be able to admire the stunning scenery.
Smaller ships will be able to get you closer to important wildlife sites and you’ll be able to actually visit some of these using small ribs or zodiac boats.
The exclusivity of these trips comes at a price though. You won’t get much change from £5,000 even on the cheapest cruise, and some are a lot more than that.
If money really is no object, you could join an organised land expedition, flying to a base in Antarctica where you stay in special pods. This will cost from £30,000.