Traveling to Antarctica is one of the most exhilarating trips you will ever take. Although it is expensive, it is truly spectacular and it's something that you and your traveling companions will never forget.
1. Choose the right time to visit. Antarctica's tour season covers about five months, mostly over the Southern Hemisphere summer (November to March). All other times of the year are extremely cold, dark, and the pack ice freezes out a long way.
2. Expect a large hole in your budget. This is one travel destination where budget travel is not much of an option unless you're hired to work hard.
3. Decide how you'd like to travel to Antarctica. Most visitors to Antarctica travel by ship, with a few intrepid travelers taking yachts across. Most voyages to the Antarctic Peninsular region leave from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands and a few leave from Punta Arenas in Chile, Buenos Aires in Argentina, or Puerto Madryn in Argentina. There are also voyages on ice breakers and sometimes using helicopters for tourists that visit the Weddell Sea, Ross Sea region and East Antarctica on occasion, to see Emperor penguin colonies, historic huts, the Dry Valleys, etc. These voyages leave from places such as Bluff or Lyttleton in New Zealand, Hobart or Fremantle in Australia, or Cape Town or Port Elizabeth in South Africa. The best way to find ship options is to visit the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) at www.iaato.org and to look at its membership directory
4. Consider air travel. There are various companies that fly to Antarctica, from Punta Arenas in Chile; from Cape Town in South Africa, and from Qantas in Australia. Some flights are simply fly overs and you can see Antarctica from the air, while some are fly-cruise options. Other flights fly straight into Antarctica and you get to stay at the base or camp set up just for the tourism purposes.
5. If making shore expeditions, prepare well. Shore visits tend to be short in duration (around 3 hours or less) and will always be accompanied by a guide unless you've made a private expedition.
Wear appropriate clothing and suitable snow walking boots.
6. Understand the health and safety issues. The Antarctic environment is dangerous for human beings. The weather is extremely changeable and it is always cold, even in the summertime (highs in the summer along the coast generally range from 41-56°F). There are dangers such as crevasses on ice fields and glaciers and fire hazards are high in the very dry environment, so handling anything flammable must be done with care.
7. Respect the fragility of the Antarctic environment. The Antarctic environment is fragile and apart from expeditions, bases, and some tourists, there has been little human change. Wildlife remains unafraid of humans because of the lack of long-term negative interaction. It is important to respect the pristine nature of Antarctica and to ensure that tourism doesn't have a negative impact. There are Visitor Guidelines adopted under the Antarctic Treaty that regulate visitors' actions at Antarctica and it is worth reading them as part of your preparation for the visit.
8. Enjoy your trip of a lifetime. This is one of those trips that people who take it can never forget or stop talking about. If you love pristine beauty, amazing sights, incredible wildlife opportunities, and you don't mind a bit of cold, this might be the perfect trip that will create a lifetime memory.