This latest post in my series of World Borders is WITHOUT doubt the best border I have crossed in my travel repertoire. It is the longest ever border crossing I have done between two countries (yes, MUCH longer than flights), the most exciting and the most inspiring. This my friends is the “dreaded drake”, it’s the roughest stretch of water in the world. It’s the Drake Passage and it separates Argentina and Chile, from Antarctica. Crossing the Drake Passage was magical! This isn’t just a border between countries (and strictly speaking Antarctica isn’t really a country), this is a border between:
– 2 continents
– 2 oceans
– the civilised world and the land where no humans ordinarily alway live
This was an epic trip, and I’m glad to share it again today and include it in my World Borders Series.
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…
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:
Barrientos, Antarctica, Monday afternoon stepping on land:
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. In terms of other things you need then it’s warm clothes and travel insurance. The rest sorts itself out.
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. Don’t worry too much. 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. I had drank some cheap wine the night before to toast to the trip with my room mate Mark, so that possibly affected it. Here are a few things I advise (but do your own thing)
– Drinks lots of water and tea.
– Eat lots for breakfast and lunch.
– Don’t move about too much.
– Sleep well.
– Avoid alcohol if you get remotely sea sick.
There isn’t too much to worry about really and your feelings and illnesses will soon disappear when you see Antarctica for the first time! You will be buzzing!!
What is there to do while crossing the Drake Passage?
Are you kidding? There is an abundance of things to do!! You will be busy, here are some things you can do:
– head out on deck and go bird and whale watching (amazing views and birds follow the boat, plus fresh air)
– sleep (you have a comfortable bed to catch up on all that travel sleep you missed out on)
– drink tea and coffee (unlimited free supply on board – I got my money’s worth)
– update your travel blog (I am constantly writing posts for my travel blog. I most most of them offline so I took time during the Drake to write about my recent stuff)
– mingle and mix (get to know everyone on the boat!!!! They’re all fellow Antarctica travellers like you and they’ll be very talkative and have great stories)
– visit the onboard library (ours was a Lonely Planet library – I got lost in there reading about Uruguay for a few hours!)
– visit the swimming pool and gym
– attend all the onboard lectures and documentaries (held in the lounge and highly informative)
– have a drink (the bar is open for happy hour and at night – be sociable)
– plan your next travel adventures
Like I say you won’t be short of things to do or people to talk to and the time will pass by in a flash. It’s a fantastic journey and if you haven’t yet been, get out there and do Antarctica!!! I have about 30 other Antarctica related posts on here and have also guested on these sites writing about it:
It’s the best place by far I have travelled to, just an incredible experience.
My Videos from the Drake Passage (WORTH WATCHING):
First morning on the Drake Passage:
First Day on the Drake:
Second Day on the Drake:
Arrival and first sighting of icebergs in Antarctica: