A trip to Antarctica isn't really just a trip; it's an expedition. The coldest, most remote continent on earth is twice the size of Australia, yet never home to more than 5,000 people at a time. It's cold, windy and desolate, but filled with the kind of sights and experiences unavailable anywhere else. From the bumpy seas of the Southern Ocean to hiking up a volcano, Antarctica has it all for the true adventurer.
Traveling to Antarctica requires perhaps more planning than any other destination outside of Mount Everest. You'll need to contact an expedition company, make plans for lodging, food and travel well in advance, and purchase plenty of gear to keep you warm and safe. Use this guide as a general overview on what to expect in Antarctica, and as it is required by all Antarctic expedition companies, get the information you need to know about purchasing
travel medical insurance or
Things to Do for Travelers in Antarctica
You can't arrive in Antarctica without a plan. Luckily, from frozen beaches to majestic mountains, you'll have plenty to experience. Check out some of these amazing attractions as you experience the raw wilderness of the White Continent.
The Unforgettable Drake Passage
You have two experiences in Antarctica, one on land and the other on water. The Drake Passage lies between Cape Horn and Antarctica. Many insist it is a rite of passage for anyone visiting this majestic land. Cruises offer all-inclusive packages to experience the roughest sea passage in style.
Antarctica's Adventurous Side
Antarctica's uninhabitable nature graciously leaves plenty for tourists to engage with. You can go kayaking, one of the most popular activities. Row through icy waters and explore the surrounding mountainous areas.
You can also go scuba diving and snorkeling. It sounds cold, but it's worth every chill. Get in your suit and venture to the underbellies of the icebergs. You can swim and tour through exotic marine life. Land activities include camping, skiing and snowboarding.
Tour an Active Volcano
Deception Island houses an active volcano. Although it spews ash regularly, the surrounding area has thriving wildlife. There are boat tours you can take to the island. You can also choose to hike from Whalers Bay or Telefon Bay. You will get to see unique rock needles from Neptune's Window.
Visit Pendulum Cove located to the northeast of the island. Spend a few hours soaking in a hot spring surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The black-sand beach is warm and calls for a nice barefoot stroll.
Wildlife Excursions on Zodiacs
Zodiacs are inflatable boats used for polar expeditions. These durable boats are used to tour areas that larger watercraft cannot access. Many recommend zodiacs as the best polar travel experience. These tours include sights of rare species. Catch a glimpse of humpback whales, penguins, orcas and endangered species of birds.
The Clearest Sea on Earth
The Weddell Sea is equal to distilled water in terms of clarity. This sea holds most of Antarctica's biodiversity. You will get to see Minke whales, Crabeater and leopard seals. A huge colony of Adelie penguins nest on Paulet Island. Emperor penguins are also found on Snow Hill Island near the shoreline.
Travel Risks for International Travelers in Antarctica
The Coldest Place in The World
Antarctica's extremely cold temperatures make frostbite an ever-present concern. Even in the summer, the temperature drops to -14°F. If not treated in time, frostbite can lead to amputation of the affected area. The weather conditions can also cause the cancellation of tours and expeditions.
Sunburn from the Ice
You may not think of sunburn in a place like Antarctica, but it's a very real issue. The combination of 24-hour sunlight in the summer and highly reflective snowpack can cause severe sunburns to bare skin and damage to your eyes. It's essential to cover exposed skin, apply sunscreen liberally, and wear protective eyewear whenever you're outdoors.
Skuas are large, predatory seabirds that are native to Antarctica. There have been documented cases of these birds attacking tourists and researchers, requiring immediate medical aid.
Leopard seals are massive marine mammals that prey on penguins, but have been known to attack humans if they feel threatened. At 12 feet long and weighing over 900 pounds, leopard seals can be extremely dangerous, so always keep your distance. Their mouths are home to many types of bacteria, so a bite could cause significant medical complications.
Due to Antarctica's unforgiving temperatures, expedition snow boots are a requirement. Spending many hours a day in these boots can cause a buildup of moisture on the foot, leading to a condition known as trench foot. If left untreated, this condition can lead to gangrene and possible amputation. Always consult your expedition leader if you're worried about this or any other potential health problem in Antarctica so you can seek treatment promptly.
Antarctica Travel Medical Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
Traveling to a destination as remote as Antarctica always carries some inherent risks. It is essential that you purchase travel medical insurance meeting all the requirements set by your expedition or tour company. It is most likely that the insurance they require will include coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains.
Do I need travel medical insurance for Antarctica?
The travel medical insurance you'll need for your trip to Antarctica will be determined by the coverage your expedition or tour company requires. The organizers of most Antarctic expeditions will deny bookings without travel medical insurance.
Even without considering the requirement, travel medical insurance is an essential component of any adventurous trip. The possibility of getting injured or ill in such a location is greatly increased, and you'll want to make sure you have financial coverage for potentially astronomical medical bills.
Why buy travel medical insurance for Antarctica?
Antarctica is mostly wilderness with very few inhabitants. Medical facilities on the continent are very limited, so most any serious medical issue could require emergency medical evacuation. The cost of medical transportation from such a remote location will be massive, so it's essential to get insurance that can financially cover your evacuation costs.
An adventure to the frontier of human civilization is not for the faint of heart. However, you can mitigate the financial risks with proper travel medical insurance.
Antarctica Trip Cancellation Insurance for International Travelers - FAQs
Traveling to Antarctica takes a significant amount of planning. Even after your expedition or tour has been booked, you'll still have to make reservations for multiple flights, as well as possible sea voyages to reach your destination. Any one of these trips could be halted or delayed, seriously impacting, or even canceling your travel plans. For this reason, trip cancellation insurance is extremely important.
Why buy trip cancellation insurance for Antarctica?
It's essential to plan for every eventuality when considering a trip to Antarctica. The volatile seas surrounding the continent can cancel or delay travel, and sudden changes in the weather could do the same to any of the flights you've booked to get there.
In addition, the possibility of getting sick or injured prior to departure exists no matter where you're traveling. If any of these things were to occur, you could be stuck with huge bills for nonrefundable bookings, or big cancellation charges. Trip cancellation insurance can provide financial coverage for you when your trip is unable to go forward as expected.
What can be covered under trip cancellation insurance for Antarctica?
In addition to trip cancellation coverage, your Antarctica travel insurance can provide a range of coverage options depending on the plan you choose. Some of those coverages may include:
When choosing your travel insurance, be sure to examine the coverages offered by different plans, and ensure they meet all requirements set by the expedition or tour company you're using to visit Antarctica.
Before You Travel to Antarctica - Do This
There are different types of insurance plans, and each company has its own set of policies. Check through the coverage offered carefully and purchase one with the coverage you need.
You'll be taking part in all sorts of amazing activities in Antarctica. Be sure that the insurance you choose offers coverage for the activities you want to experience.
Antarctica's isolation makes it impossible to visit on your own. Many insurance plans offered are designed for an Antarctic cruise. Some policies may not cover you when you're not on board, so make sure to get one that does for when you disembark.