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Drake Passage

Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands

To arrive in the Antarctic Peninsula, all vessels must cross the Drake Passage in the south of Cape Horn, connecting the waters of the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. It is considered one of the most challenging seas in the world, and the stage for numerous shipwrecks of history. 

Cruise ships to Antarctica leave from the port of Ushuaia, where flights arrive from Buenos Aires and other cities of the country. The tourist season in Antarctica is from November to March (end of southern spring and summer).

What to see
The crossing experience

Crossing the Drake Passage generally takes 48 hours and represents one of the greatest experiences of travelling to Antarctica. While sometimes these are calm voyages, the weather is unpredictable and waters may be rough, causing discomfort for some travellers, especially during the first days (all ships offer medical service to assist in those cases). During the crossing, you pass through the Antarctic Convergence, the biological boundary where the Antarctic waters formally begin.


Wildlife observation

During the trip, you can watch a large variety of seabirds, such as albatrosses and petrels, as well as dolphins and several whale species. 

How to get there and move around

Ushuaia (the capital city of Tierra del Fuego) is the closest city to the White Continent. The vast majority of cruise companies that go to Antarctica depart from its port. The days before or after the expedition are a good opportunity to get to know the city and the island of Tierra del Fuego.

Where to stay

Before and after cruises, in Ushuaia.

Most of the itineraries last between 10 and 12 days (classic Antarctica) and allow you to get to know the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, but there are also other circuits, longer and with more stops, such as Antarctica via the Malvinas and South Georgia Islands, the Antarctic Polar Circle Crossing and the Weddell Sea Circuit.

Cruise ships have different designs. The smaller or specialized ships carry zodiacs on board that allow disembarking during the journey, while on the larger ships you stay on the cruise for the entire trip. There are different levels of service offered on board. In addition, some companies offer non-conventional extra activities such as kayaking, diving, trekking, camping, helicopter flights or snorkelling. 

More information

Find other must-sees of the Route of Antarctica