A Guide to Traveling From Ushuaia to Antarctica

  • ~ mins read

Situated at the southernmost point of Argentina, Ushuaia is known as the "End of the World" and serves as the gateway to Antarctica's vast and mesmerizing wilderness. With its rugged landscapes, towering glaciers, and abundant wildlife, Ushuaia offers a great starting point for those seeking to explore the pristine beauty of the Antarctic continent. In fact, most Argentina to Antarctica tours start from here. Whether you dream of witnessing majestic icebergs, encountering penguins up close, or immersing yourself in the serenity of the Antarctic landscape, this article will provide you with all the essential information and tips for your journey from Ushuaia to Antarctica.

Best trip!
  • Jan Sands
5 - Excellent
“Thanks for making our trip so wonderful. We loved our guides, Rosario and Fabian. A...” Read More
View Incredible Tours in Argentina

Ways to get to Antarctica from Ushuaia: Fly or cruise?

The two most common ways to take a trip from Ushuaia to Antarctica are by cruise ship and fly cruise. Each mode of transport has its own advantages, so it is essential to assess factors like distance, duration, cost, and personal preferences when deciding which one to pick for your Antarctica tour.

1. Cruise – Ushuaia to Antarctica

Ushuaia to Antarctica
A cruise passes through a mountain in Antarctica

This is considered the ultimate way to experience the vast white continent of Antarctica. Thousands of travelers take advantage of the many cruise options available from Ushuaia each year. Most cruises depart from Ushuaia, then sail across the Beagle Channel before crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica. These cruises cover a distance of 1,000 kilometers across the Drake Passage, a body of water with notoriously strong seas, taking approximately two days to reach the Antarctic Peninsula. Cruises to Antarctica from Ushuaia typically range from six to 18 days. Prices can range from USD 5,500 to over USD 25,000, depending on the duration and accommodations on board. A cruise from Ushuaia in Argentina is a remarkable opportunity to explore the awe-inspiring beauty of Antarctica, encounter diverse wildlife, and immerse yourself in a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Pro tips:

  • Choose a cruise ship with stabilizers to minimize the effects of rough seas.
  • Take advantage of the informational sessions the cruise operator provides before departure to learn about safety protocols, onboard activities, and wildlife guidelines.
  • Antarctic expeditions are subject to weather and ice conditions, so be prepared for potential itinerary changes or delays.

2. Fly-Cruise – Chile to Antarctica to Argentina

The fly-cruise option is becoming increasingly popular amongst visitors to Antarctica. While this tour doesn’t start in Ushuaia, it can be booked with tour operators in Ushuaia. Usually, a flight is boarded in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. The two-and-a-half-hour flight lands on King George Island, situated in the South Shetland islands, very near to the Antarctic Peninsula. From here, travelers can board a cruise ship. While the fly-cruise option comes at a higher cost, with prices ranging from approximately USD 10,000 to USD 15,000 for a two-week trip, it does take away the potential discomfort of sailing across the Drake Passage.

Pro tips:

  • Look for well-established, reputable fly-cruise operators with reliable services and a proven track record of organizing Antarctic expeditions.
  • Traveling to Antarctica requires specific permits and documentation. Make sure your passport is up to date and research the visa requirements for your country. Additionally, some cruises may require medical clearance and travel insurance.
  • It is recommended to arrive in Ushuaia at least a day in advance to avoid flight delays or complications. This allows for a buffer in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Mode of transport Number of days Highlights
Cruise ship 6 to 18 days
  • Breathtaking landscapes of the Drake Passage.
  • Up-close encounters with penguins, whales, and seals in the Antarctic.
  • Kayaking in pristine Antarctic waters.
Fly-cruise 6 to 11 days
  • Spectacular views of towering ice formations and pristine landscapes.
  • Guided shore excursions for hiking, photography, and exploring landing sites.
  • Optional activities like camping on the ice, snowshoeing, and polar plunges for adventurous souls.

Travel Tips

A woman packing her essentials for a trip.
Prepare for an unforgettable Antarctic cruise with these essential items in your pack: sunscreen, nausea medication, a camera with chargers, waterproof boots, thermal underwear, and a cozy warm coats.
  • Schedule your Ushuaia arrival a day or two before your Antarctica cruise voyage, so as not to miss out on your adventure on account of flight delay or lost luggage concerns.
  • The Antarctic Treaty limits landings in Antarctica to parties of 100 people or less, so sailing on a smaller vessel allows for fewer delays and more land exploration opportunities.
  • Important items to pack for an Antarctic cruise include sunscreen, nausea medication, a camera with battery chargers, waterproof boots, thermal underwear, and a warm coat.
  • Expect no internet access or cell phone coverage in Antarctica, as satellite positioning and limited bandwidth are common challenges.
  • Activities like kayaking, trekking, photography workshops, and diving are available on Ushuaia to Antarctica cruises, typically at an extra cost and requiring advance booking.

Antarctica is as beautiful a continent as it is fascinating. Not only is a trip to Antarctica a bucket list item for globetrotters and nature lovers alike, it also promises to be a memorable journey of inner and outer discovery. And while there are different ways to travel to Antarctica, the route starting from Ushuaia remains to be the most popular among travelers.