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Can you hear the call of Antarctica, one of the most extraordinary corners of our planet, where you’ll be in awe with every step you take? From the first crunch underfoot as you walk onto the ice to the thrill of a leopard seal turning to meet your gaze, discover the unique ice formations, spectacular wildlife and otherworldliness of a destination like no other.

But what’s the best way of travelling to this majestic place – onboard a ship across the Drake Passage, or straight to its heart by plane? With AE Expeditions, we offer both sail and fly options so you can get the most from our itineraries – whether you want to maximise your time on the white continent with our fly options or take on the fuller, more traditional experience of sailing the Drake.

While there are so many ways to explore Antarctica, no matter which you choose, you are sure to have perspective-altering experiences on the Antarctic voyage of a lifetime. 

Sail

If you are looking for a truly intimate journey to Antarctica, there is no better option than cruising the mighty Drake Passage, which stretches from the bottom tip of South America to just north of the Antarctic Peninsula. This is the fastest way to reach Antarctica by sea. Crossing this particular stretch of ocean has become a rite of passage for many a polar explorer. Very few people can say they have tackled these historic waters. 

Antarctic expeditions set sail from the resort town of Ushuaia, at the southernmost tip of Argentina, nicknamed the ‘End of the World’. As ships traverse the Drake Passage, they can be met with strong winds from the west, especially around Cape Horn. The passage is part of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is said to be the world’s most voluminous current. 

Our ships feature the revolutionary Ulstein X-BOW®, which allows them to cross oceans more comfortably and efficiently by cutting through the swell so passengers feel fewer vibrations and disturbances. This technology, in combination with Rolls Royce dynamic stabilisers, offers unrivalled stability and comfort* on ocean crossings. It also helps us significantly reduce our fuel consumption and emissions.

If you choose to sail the Drake to Antarctica, during the crossing you will have the opportunity to listen to engaging lectures on broad topics   from Antarctica’s history to photography tips  in addition to completing all mandatory briefings and getting fitted for gear including muck boots. If you are participating in an activity in our comprehensive activity program, like kayaking, scuba diving or snorkelling, you will also have seperate briefings and be fitted for your special clothing and equipment. What this means is that when you arrive in the Subantarctic Islands or Antarctica, you will be ready for adventure at the earliest opportunity!

Of course, a consequence of this type of expedition is that those who are prone to seasickness or don’t enjoy the open ocean may not enjoy cruising across the Drake. If you are successful in finding your sea legs, it’s worth getting out on deck – you could be rewarded with wildlife sightings, including playful dolphins frolicking in the ship’s wake or breaching whales.

Learn more about the Drake Passage and tips for surviving the crossing.

*AE Expeditions do not claim that this will prevent or cure seasickness

Fly

There are many Antarctic expeditions that bypass one or both legs of the Drake Passage, with explorers flying into King George Island in the South Shetland Islands from Punta Arenas in Chile – the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region. After the short flight, you will take a short Zodiac cruise – the first of many! – to join the ship. By taking a charter flight to Antarctica, you could be spotting your first iceberg within just a few hours of leaving South America. 

From the air, it is possible to get an idea of the true isolated nature of the Sub Antarctic, witnessing the white caps of the waves with sporadic seabirds.

Itineraries that include a Fly option can be a good option for people who want to maximise their time on the white continent. However, the threat of bad weather in the region can in some rare cases delay flights to the frozen continent. Please read our contingency plans for Fly/Sail, Sail/Fly and Fly/Fly expeditions.

 

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