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How Much Does It Cost to Visit Antarctica?

Spoiler: these prices may give you chills.

king penguins on snow

Vacations are called getaways for a reason. You’re supposed to be far, far away from your daily woes and worries. Ideally, all you’re doing is chilling out in a remote location.

Like, say, Antarctica?

Forget “the final frontier”: the most isolated continent on Earth happens to be a thriving tourist hub. As per the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), 56,168 visitors descended on Antarctica during the 2018-2019 season. That number went up to 74,401 in 2019-2020; presumably, more tourists would have flocked there if it weren’t for the pandemic.

So, how much will it cost you to go see the penguins? Brace yourself because these prices might leave you frozen in your tracks.

Keep your cool with these prices, alright?

According to Realonomics, you’ll have to dole out close to $5,000 to get on the cheapest cruises to Antarctica. To be clear, these are 6- to 10-day trips; for cruises that actually cross into the Antarctic Circle (duration of 12-14 days), you’ll be spending anywhere between $8,000 and $18,000.

If the icy wilderness doesn’t quite tickle your wanderlust, you can avail yourself of a cruise package that will also take you to South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands, which are both beautiful havens for wildlife. Packages like this will cost you around $12,000 to $25,000.

And if you want to get deep into the interior, perhaps even the South Pole itself? That’ll be $50,000, please.

Basic facts for Antarctica tourists

While you calculate your vacation budget, you might as well brush up on a couple of facts regarding this destination.

No visa is needed to travel to Antarctica since there is no single country that lays claim to the entire domain. However, citizens of countries that signed the Antarctic Treaty will have to secure permission from their government.

However, since there are no direct flights to Antarctica, you’ll have to travel to a take-off point in another country. This means that you need to do your research on the local visa requirements.

For instance, the take-off point for most cruises to Antarctica is the city of Ushuaia, which is in southern Argentina. US citizens will be thrilled to know that they don’t need a visa to get into Argentina for tourist trips of up to 90 days. Ditto for Chile, where you can avail yourself of a fly-cruise option. On the other hand, if you want to access the take-off points in Australia and New Zealand, you’ll need to get a visa for those countries.

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Now that you’re in strategizing mode for your trip to Antarctica, here’s something else to think about: What’s the best time of the year for a visit?

According to Australia’s Aurora Expeditions, the best time to go to Antarctica is the six-month period from October to March. What’s more, there are “unique charms” to be enjoyed at each point of this tourism period.

  • From October to November, penguins and whales are up and about. Plus, with all the snowscapes on the horizon, the place looks like “a photographer’s dream.”
  • Did you know that summer in Antarctica comes in December? Rocky shores become exposed as a result of the snow melting, so that’s a trekking opportunity right there. Meanwhile, if you’re dropping by in January, be on the lookout for cute baby penguins being reared by their parents.
  • Tourists who visit in February and March can get to see leopard seals chilling out in the vicinity of penguin colonies, as well as colorful snow algae. Yay!

While all this talk of adorable animals is tremendously exciting, remember that there’s a responsible way to spend your time in Antarctica. Like any other tourist destination, this beautiful place is vulnerable to improper waste disposal, as well as the disturbance of both flora and fauna.

Therefore, when you visit Antarctica, keep your wits about you, and don’t get too excited. In other words, chill out.

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