Preparing for The Drake Passage to get From Argentina to Antarctica

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The Drake Passage separates Argentina and Chile, from Antarctica. This isn’t just a border between countries (and strictly speaking Antarctica isn’t really a country), this is a border between 2 continents and 2 oceans, and a civilised world and the land where no humans ordinarily live.

Map onboard the Antarctica cruise showing the Drake Passage

How to get from Argentina to Antarctica (crossing the Drake Passage)

There will be more posts to come on routes, travel tips etc. but let’s make things concise here. Book yourself a trip to Antarctica and most likely it will leave from Ushuaia in Argentina. So to get from Argentina to Antarctica, you will leave the port of Ushuaia, first sailing along the marvellous Beagle Channel and secondly entering the Drake Passage. Your destiny my friends is no longer in your own hands. It’s in the hands of the able crew and captain plus the joys that Mother Nature provides the ship with. When crossing the Drake Passage, the ship will rock and it will roll. The tour I booked was with GAP Adventures and they included an onboard itinerary every day of the trip, here’s the one from the main day of crossing the Drake Passage…

Crossing the Drake Passage in Antarctica trip daily bulletin on board.

How long does it take to get from Argentina to Antarctica?

On the Drake Passage, it takes roughly two days, but ours was less than that. From the exact moment that you leave the port of Ushuaia until you land in Antarctica on soil will be about 42 – 48 hours. If I remember correctly we left on a Saturday night around 6pm and made our first landing in Barrientos, Antarctica on the Monday afternoon around 2.20pm.

Ushuaia, Saturday afternoon boarding the boat:

Boarding the boat for the drake passage to Antarctica

Barrientos, Antarctica, Monday afternoon stepping on land:

Arrival in Antarctica after the Drake Passage

What Visas do you need to get from Argentina to Antarctica?

Visas are NOT REQUIRED for visits to Antarctica. You can get your passport stamped at the bases you visit, but no passports or documents will ever be checked on landing. You don’t see penguins waiting in booths, or anything remotely political like that. Antarctica is a natural wonderland of sheer bliss.

Port Lockroy passport stamp Antarctica

How rough a crossing is the Drake Passage?

I won’t lie to you – the seas are rough. It’s the roughest stretch of water in the world. But having said that, I didn’t find it particularly rough so perhaps we were lucky. I have spent 2 years of my life working on boats however and I love life on the ocean so that could also be a factor. You’ll have time to relax and enjoy it, or if you do get ill, you’ll be able to just sleep it off. It’s worth going through rough seas to feast your eyes on Antarctica!

How to prepare for the Drake Passage

This is very much an “each to their own” to be honest – do what you feel you need to do for your own health and body – don’t listen to others too much. Generally I don’t get sea sick so I’m not a good person to comment on this. However I did have a one hour headache on the first morning of the Drake.

sunset on the Drake Passage to Antarctica

Aitcho Islands Antarctica arrival

What is there to do while crossing the Drake Passage?

Head out on deck for bird and whale watching (amazing views and birds follow the boat, plus fresh air)

Bird watching on the drake passage

Sleep, drink tons of tea and water, mingle and mix with everyone on the boat, visit the onboard library, visit the swimming pool and gym and attend all the onboard lectures and documentaries which are highly informative.

Lectures during the Drake Passage crossing

My Videos from the Drake Passage:

First morning on the Drake Passage:

First Day on the Drake:

Second Day on the Drake:

Arrival and first sighting of icebergs in Antarctica:

 

Jonny Scott Blair
Jonny Blair is a self confessed traveling nomad who founded and blogs at Don't Stop Living. He sees every day as an adventure. Since leaving behind his home town of Bangor in Northern Ireland ten years ago he has traveled to all seven continents, working his way through various jobs and funding it all with hard work and an appetite for travel. Don’t Stop Living, a lifestyle of travel' contains over 1,000 stories and tips from his journeys round the globe. He wants to show others how easy it is to travel the world, give them some ideas and encourage them to do the same but most of all he aims to constantly live a lifestyle of travel. He is currently based in Hong Kong and on Twitter @jonnyblair.
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