How I went to Antarctica | & How You Can Too!
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Antarctica is the most desolate continent and least traveled to places in the world.
There are only a few ways to get to Antarctica, only two ways there: by cruise and plane.
When I was planning the trip to Antarctica, a few weeks before I still wasn't sure if it was going to become a reality.
I learned that traveling to Antarctica was possible when I was in Thailand volunteering as an English teacher at a primary school. The person in charge of coordinating the missionary work in Thailand and is the chair of the Theology department at my university was excited to tell me he had a trip planned to Antarctica over Christmas break and that he was completing his goal of traveling to all 7 continents. He told me about how he was flying from the tip of South America in Chile.
There are only two ways people can go as tourists to Antarctica. You can take a cruise, or you can fly. Cruises take between 10-12 days from Punta Arenas, Chile or you can take a day flight or overnight trip from Punta Arenas, Chile. While I was planning for the trip, I was studying Spanish in Argentina at the Universidad Adventista del Plata. I had a month of spring break to enjoy after my time at the UAP before returning to my university back home. My dad agreed to meet me in Patagonia, Chile to enjoy an incredible trip to Torres del Paine. We only had a few days to travel so unfortunately a cruise was not a possibility.
Flying to Antarctica
DAP Airlines is the only airlines that has flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica and offers day trips, as well as overnight trips. The airlines must have a group size of 5-6 people to go on their Antarctica trips. When my dad and I had signed up, we were the only ones on the list for the dates that we were available. Because of the possibility of change in weather, they ask that you reserve at least 3 days to travel to Antarctica in case conditions are not ideal to fly. DAP Airlines reserves a hotel in downtown Punta Arenas and arranges meal cards for you to enjoy at the hotel restaurant. They only offer flights in Antarctica's summer months (winter months in the Northern Hemisphere) between December - March. There is a mandatory educational meeting held in DAP offices in Punta Arenas that must be attended before your trip to Antarctica as well as a few documents that need to be filled out and signed (they provide extra warm jackets as well as boots). A few weeks before I was heading to Chile, my roommate in Argentina and her parents decided to join us to Antarctica and made the trip possible!
My Experience in Antarctica
Our first day planned to go to Antarctica was cancelled because of weather/available flights. We ended up going to a farm nearby and watch birds coordinated by DAP. The second day was a go, good weather and a flight available. We went through security at the Punta Arenas airport and boarded a tiny plane. We landed on Saint George Island in Antarctica, greeted by our travel guide. We suited up in bright orange survival suits and took a rafting trip where we were able to get up and close to an incredible glacier, penguin island and hike down to the beach where they had huge elephant seals. The penguins were incredibly adorable and friendly, because they don't see humans or many predators they were curious to figure out what kind of animals we were. As a break from the cold, we enjoyed hot tea and lunch in the Russian unit. On the island there are various scientific units from around the world as well as an extravagant Orthodox church. Chile has a Naval base where they transport food and other necessities to the people living there where I was able to get my passport stamped! It still amazes me that I had the incredibly opportunity to go to Antarctica!
How to go to Antarctica
Fill out paperwork, wait for a group of 5-6
Buy a flight to Punta Arenas
Pack a snow jacket, snow pants, under clothes, sweater, wool socks, scarf, hat, snow boots
(Note that snow boots and snow jacket are also offered by DAP)
Pack a few changes of clothes for your stay in Punta Arenas, Chile
Enjoy your trip!