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Seals on ice floe, Antarctica

Antarctica Holidays

Follow in the footsteps of great explorers. Discover a remote world filled with gigantic penguin rookeries, towering icebergs and stories of pioneering feats.

For the biggest variety of wildlife, visit the Antarctic Peninsula; for huge icebergs and emperor penguins, sail the Weddell Sea; or for sheer scale and remoteness, take to the Ross Sea. 

For travellers to Antarctica, the continent’s giant proportions and pristine white wilderness leave a profound impression. Our Antarctic cruises will take you through towering glacial scenery and introduce you to a plethora of species, frozen landscapes and glassy waters. Nothing quite prepares you for this experience; as you cruise past sheer ice faces, and the cold air drawing into your lungs invigorates your mind, you will feel that same sense of adventure that Shackleton did.

Our Antarctica Guides

We know that travellers bound for Antarctica tend to have a lot of questions – from what you’ll see to what socks you should wear – and our Polar Experts are always on hand to answer your specific questions. But in the meantime, we have compiled a series of guides to the Great White Continent to get you started. So have a pen and paper handy, and jot down any other unknowns you might have, ready for your next e-mail or phone conversation with your personal specialist.

The Ultimate Antarctica Packing List

How to Pick your Antarctic Voyage: Which Trip is Right for You?

When to Go to Antarctica:
A Seasonal Guide

Weddell Seal, Antarctica
Antarctica, Antarctica

Antarctica with Steppes

Steppes Travel was one of the first UK-based tour operators to offer holidays and cruises to Antarctica. Since then we’ve built an impressive reputation for detailed first-hand knowledge and long-standing partnerships with all the leading small ship boat operators. This vast expertise means we can pick the boat, cabin and experiences which perfectly match your unique brief.

Why Steppes?

Polar Flight on Ice Runway, Antarctica
Polar Flight on Ice Runway, Antarctica

Fly to Antarctica

Traditional cruises begin in Ushuaia, Argentina (otherwise known as “The End of the World”), with the first two days spent crossing the infamous Drake Passage. This stretch of water can be rough, so those prone to seasickness might want to avoid it. Enter: the fly-cruise. With travel to and from Antarctica completed in just two hours each way, the trip is cut down by up to four days. Simply a must for anyone short on time and looking to maximise the opportunities to get snow on their boots.

Join an Antarctic Fly-Cruise

Fitz Roy mountain near El Chalten, in the Southern Patagonia, on the border between Argentina and Chile
Patagonia, Argentina
Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Extend your Voyage

For those travellers wishing to make more of their time in South America before or after an Antarctic expedition, we offer a plethora of tailor-made extensions. Perhaps spend time in Argentina, taking a scenic flight over Iguazu Falls or joining a wine-tasting workshop in Mendoza. Travel to Chile to hike in Torres del Paine or board a flight to Easter Island with its remote mythical Moai. For the ultimate wildlife holiday, join a cruise in the Galapagos Islands or consider travelling to Antarctica from New Zealand and add an extension to the Pacific Islands of Tonga, Fiji or Tahiti.

Talk to an Expert

Antarctica, Uncovered
Browse the Great White Continent

We have created and curated these voyage ideas to get you inspired. Browse through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure to Antarctica.

Experiences

Things to do, places to explore and moments to experience.

Scroll to discover some of our most remarkable travel experiences in Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, from diving to photographing busy penguin rookeries.

Diving in Antarctic Waters

Don a dry suit and take a dip in the icy cold waters of Antarctica to dive or snorkel with curious penguins and marvel at the ice beneath the surface.

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Camp near the South Pole

For a truly extraordinary and utterly unique experience, fly in to a specially constructed camp near the South Pole.

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The Polar Plunge

Plunge in the icy Antarctic waters of Paradise Bay, a completely exhilarating (and somewhat bonkers) way to experience the cold continent.

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Penguins of the Weddell Sea

Discover the clearest sea waters on earth, home to millions of penguins that include Adélies and emperors.

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Snow Adventures in Antarctica

Try snowshoeing across the icy white plains of Antarctica, a challenging but exhilarating sport.

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Aperture on Cuverville Island

Head out on a photography tour on Cuverville Island, known for its deafeningly noisy penguin rookeries.

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Falkland Battlefields

Explore the battlefields of the 1982 conflict.

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Walk on Gypsy Cove

Explore the stunning coastal paths and inland hills for magical sea views.

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Photography in the Falklands

Make the most of the light clarity in the Falkland Islands, as it provides wonderful opportunities for photographers and artists.

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Navigate the Ross Sea

Sail through the remote ocean region that is home to emperor penguins, orca whales, and leopard seals, and see the largest floating body of ice in the world.

Explorers of Antarctica

Learn the fascinating history of the early explorers, perhaps visiting both the iconic huts and graves (and snow tombs) of Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott.

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Icy Water Kayaking

Navigate alongside icebergs in Wilhelmina Bay, looking out for curious penguins and whales, or embark on an overnight camping expedition.

Find the Boat that's Right for You

The vast majority of people experience Antarctica by cruise, and choosing the right vessel for you is key. From expeditionary vessels to luxurious ships to sailing boats to state-of-the-art carriers, there is a boat to suit every type of traveller. We have stepped foot on almost all of the vessels that travel to the continent, so you can rest assured that we can match you to your ideal floating home. No matter your requirements, our hand-picked selection of vessels are varied enough to suit solo travellers, honeymooners and adventurous families alike.

More luxury boats

Explore Antarctica

  • Antarctic Peninsula
  • Falkland Islands
  • South Georgia
  • Weddell Sea
  • Ross Sea

Let’s chat

Speak to our experts

Our team is waiting to help you tailor a trip that will leave you with stories for a lifetime. Call us on

01285 601 784

Send us an enquiry

Complete our enquiry form and start your next journey.

Enquire

Sue's in-depth knowledge of Antarctica, the route options and each of the vessels was invaluable in our preparation for the trip and was a strong differentiator when we were choosing a travel agent. When talking with Sue, we quickly got an honest perspective.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

We were blown away by Sue’s in-depth knowledge of everything from endemic species to the history of Shackleton and his men. No question we had went unanswered, and no little detail was missed.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Sue’s extensive first-hand knowledge of Antarctica was so apparent from our first phone call. She was able to help us select the ideal route and vessel for our needs, and with her guidance we were able to see the emperor penguins!

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Sue forewarned us that there would be no words to describe South Georgia and that our photos wouldn’t do it justice, and how right she was. All we can say is “see for yourself”. Thank you, Sue, for your indispensable advice.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Both telephone and e-mail responses were excellent and all of Sue's expert advice was very much appreciated. She was prompt, supportive and engaging throughout and our expedition to Antarctica was spectacular.

Destination: Antarctica
Travel Expert: Sue

Frequently asked questions about Antarctica

Can solo travellers join an Antarctic cruise?

As these voyages offer a collective experience in the company of like-minded people, they’re very well suited for single travellers. You have the option to either share a triple or twin same-sex or to cover the supplement to secure your own cabin. If sharing, a cabin mate will be allocated to you by the boat operator.

Do I have to have a certain level of fitness?

This is an active cruise with optional daily walking excursions over uneven terrain and to be able to get the most out of it you should be in good general health. In order to join the excursions, you must be able to easily get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level and to be able to get in and out of the awaiting zodiacs, which can be awkward, particularly in choppy seas. Staff will be on hand to assist all passengers, so don’t worry about this, it’s just something to be aware of.

How adventurous are Antarctic expeditions?

You can make your expedition as relaxed or adventurous as you like. With no predators on land you are free to explore or if you prefer, sit quietly on the edge of a penguin colony. Close encounters are common as penguins are curious creatures.

If you want to stretch your legs and get some height, extended guided walks are provided sometimes with snowshoes or skis. The opportunity of a night out camping on the ice should not be missed – it may not be the most comfortable night of your life but certainly a memorable one. Kayaking on crystal clear waters surrounded by porpoising penguins is an exhilarating experience. For the height of adventure and a unique perspective, snorkelling and diving are available on some voyages.

How rough is the Drake Passage?

This is a tricky one as the crossings can be anything from a millpond to a force nine hurricane, the latter being the less common. Ultimately it’s down to a little luck, but most people find that their own experience wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

We can certainly help to reduce concern by recommending boats known for their stability. For those still worried, it is possible to avoid sailing the Drake Passage altogether by taking a two-hour flight rather than undertaking a two-day sea journey.

If you are sailing from Ushuaia in southern Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula, remember that cruises will take two days to get there and two days to get back. This stretch of water can offer up some interesting weather and if you are at all prone to seasickness, make sure you go prepared.

What aircraft flies to Antarctica?

Generally the aircraft that fly to Antarctica are 70-passenger BAE-146 which are high-wing aircrafts with very short runway requirements. There is a limited luggage capacity of 20 kg per person in total (combined hand and hold luggage). There are big advantages to the limited capacity of the aircraft, in that you will join a sailing with just 70 passengers aboard a ship designed for more than 100. Antarctica season runs from November to March. Fly and cruise options tend to have a slightly shorter season to cruising, they start in December and finish in February. These options are very popular and places fill up fast, book early to avoid disappointment.

What should I expect from an Antarctic expedition?

Experiencing Antarctica first-hand can be overwhelming – the smells, the sounds and above all the scale. Penguin poo has a particular perfume. There’s the honking bray of penguins, the shrill party whistles of young chicks trying to find their voice, the bleating, mewing, strangulated cries of a creche of young fur seal pups. The deep visceral gurgling of the stomachs of elephant seals. The staggering size of the icebergs, the vast numbers of penguins. That’s the trouble with visiting this part of the world: sensory overload. The weather, the seas, the scenery, the marine life, the bird life, the colours, the contrasts. You scour your memory database for superlatives, you are constantly reaching for your camera – thank goodness for digital cameras – but however much you try, you are never quite able to capture the experience.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Sue Grimwood

The vast continent of Antarctica is Sue’s happy place. Immune to the pungent smell of penguin poo and the halitosis of elephant seals, she fell in love with its seemingly endless snowscapes, icebergs the size of stadiums and fascinating history of the explorers.

Talk with our experts
  • 01285 601 784

James Armitage

James has been lucky enough to visit Antarctica by boat, crossing the infamous Drake Passage and flying down to Antarctica, allowing time to visit the 7th white continent, observe charismatic penguins and kayak beside a breaching humpback whale.

Talk with our experts
  • 01285 601 784

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary?


Why Steppes