Thursday, December 26, 2019

9 Days Ship Expedition in Summer Antarctica via Ushuaia

Seventh Continent on my Bucket List completing the #lakbaySevenContinents
November 22 to 30, 2019

“Antarctica is otherworldly, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Stark, cold, beautiful desolation.” — Mark Hoppus

My 85th solo backpacking trip and the 7th continent that completed the Seven Continents of the World on my Bucket List. I did not research that much for this continent due also on limited time and laziness.

Antarctica is a land of extremes: it is the coldest and driest continent on Earth and has the highest average elevation. As the fifth largest continent in the world, Antarctica is also the most Southern, overlying the "South Pole". Scarcely touched by humans, the frozen land boasts breathtaking scenery, broken by only a handful of scientific bases and a "permanent" population of scientists numbering only a few thousand.

9 Days Ship Expedition in Summer Antarctica via Ushuaia

9 Days Ship Expedition in Summer Antarctica via Ushuaia

9 Days Ship Expedition in Summer Antarctica via Ushuaia

timezone - UTC -0300H (Argentina) visa - applied on the country where to enter (Argentina E-Visa)
Requirements: (1) above link is for e-visa application, means you need to have valid US or Schengen visa to be qualified (2) Full scan copy of passport pages (3) $50 visa fee (4) Processing time is 3-5 days. 

1. The Dry Valleys in Antarctica are the driest places on earth
2. Antarctica is, on average, the windiest place on earth
3. The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the single biggest mass of ice in the world
4. There is no Antarctic time zone
5. Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth
6. Antarctica holds most of the world's fresh water
7. Because of the earth's tilt, the sun does not rise in Antarctica from the vernal equinox to the autumnal equinox, which means the continent remains dark throughout the entire winter season.

9 Days Ship Expedition in Summer Antarctica via Ushuaia

9 Days Ship Expedition in Summer Antarctica via Ushuaia (all Filipino staff)


​Preparation: (payed full in cash upon my visit in Ushuaia 4 days before my schedule)

Freestyle Adventure - +54-92901609792 (WhatsApp)
Antarctica Travels - +54-92901486048 (WhatsApp)

Argentina Day 04: November 18, 2019 Monday / Ushuaia for Antarctica Payment
0405H ETD Buenos Aires; flight AR1684
0740H ETA Ushuaia; taxi to downtown
Antarctica 9-days trip walk-in full payment in cash $4,400 ($200 discount for paying in cash, $4,600 last price)
1010H ETD Ushuaia Downtown; taxi to Airport

Day 01: November 22, 2019 Friday
1600H ETA Ushuaia Port; Ship familiarization; Safety Drill
1800H ETD Ushuia Port
1930H buffet dinner; photo-ops with Filipino staff

0800H buffet breakfast
1130H Expedition photography lessons
1230H buffet lunch; souvenirs $63
1430H Mandatory IAATO & Zodiac Briefing
1630H Biosecurity checks & Captain's Welcome Cocktail
1930H buffet dinner

0800H breakfast
0900H penguin and seal familiarization
1200H lunch
1500H zodiac to Great Wall Research Station (China)
1630H back to ship
1930H dinner

0800H breakfast
0900H Zodiac to Port Lockroy (Jougla Point)
1130H back to ship
1230H lunch
1500H Necko Harbor cancelled due to strong wind (>40 knots)
1930H lunch

0800H breakfast
0930H Cuverville Island
1200H lunch
1400H Paradise Harbor
1900H dinner

0800H breakfast
0930H Zodiac cruising in Lemaire Channel
1230H lunch
1400H Zodiac cruising in Lemaire Channel
1700H Polar plunge
1930H dinner
2100H Antarctica quiz night (we won with perfect score)

0800H breakfast
1300H lunch
2000H dinner

0800H breakfast
1300H lunch
2000H dinner; envelope tip $150

Day 09: November 30, 2019 Saturday
0645H breakfast
0730H World Explorer check-out (claim passport / flash drive)

TOTAL: $4,400 + $150 + $63 = $4,613

9 Days Ship Expedition in Summer Antarctica via Ushuaia

9 Days Ship Expedition in Summer Antarctica via Ushuaia (Gentoo Penguins)

My Antarctica Tips as Pinoy Solo Backpacker:
(Philippine passport holder, my 1st cruise travel and my 7th continent) 

Visa Required: Antarctica (none), only on the Port of Entry (Argentina E-Visa for Philippine passport if you have US Visa). It depends on the territories to pass-by, confirm with Travel Agency. 

01. Visit is allowed during summer season (Oct. to Mar.) and minimum duration is 9-days (from/to Ushuaia Port)
02. Research the scheduled dates offered. I chose Nov. because it's not peak yet. Peak season is Dec. to Mar.
03. As recommended by other Backpackers, the best way to save is the "last minute booking" walk-in in Ushuaia. 
04. Walk-in booking is gamble, your budget and itinerary should be flexible. My plan B was to hike Mt. Aconcagua in Mendoza, Argentina (South America's highest peak and one of the 7 Summits)
05. Cash payment is advisable as you can negotiate for discount (my Pinoy bargaining skill worked). 
06. Travel Insurance is required, I used only my work insurance. 
07. My plan was to go to Ushuaia right away. But during my Buenos Aires nights, I found budget Antarctica travel tour sites online which I don't know why I didn't see during my pre-planning. This was my back-up plan. 
08. Upon arrival in Ushuaia, I did not find any travel agency that fits my schedule. So good thing I have item 7.
09. I don't have my own full battle gear for the Antarctic chill as I knew that Travel Agency can lend their gears FOR FREE (waterproof jacket, pants, gloves). I brought only warmers, fleece jacket and gloves, wool socks, bonnet and bubble jacket. 
10. Bring our beloved Philippine flag for excellent photo-ops (raise our flag). 
11. Lots of Pinoy Staff onboard, have a conversation / photo with them, they are proud of you as their guest.
12. For 9-days, Drake Passage trip took only more than a day. Prepare for your worst ocean motion sickness. 
13. Polar plunge challenge and Quiz night before Antarctica departure. It was -1'C and my group won the 1st place with perfect score (my 1st time to join quiz night, beginner's luck). 
14. Buy souvenirs onboard. Though expensive, you will never find these at the Port. 

Drake Passage Journey between Ushuaia and Antarctica


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