Antarctica, South Georgia, and Falklands Traveler Information

Antarctica, South Georgia, and Falklands Traveler Information

If you have booked or are considering the Antarctica, South Georgia, and Falklands Explorer Meetup Tour, this is where you will find the practical information you need from travel insurance and safety protocols to what to pack for a multi-destination polar adventure in the Antarctic Circle.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Although the ice-strengthened ships you’ll be on are big and sturdy, the Antarctic waters can be unpredictable and rough. Some people may experience seasickness, especially through the Drake Passage and other open water crossings, so please be prepared with medications to combat this – we’d hate for you to miss a single minute of this journey. There is also a doctor on board should you need further assistance.
  • Of course, temperatures in the Antarctic can be freezing, but it can get surprisingly warm – when the sun comes out, for instance, or with increased physical activity. It’s best to dress in layers when you journey outside and we’ll provide you with waterproof boots that are sturdy and warm. Please see the suggested packing list further down for information about what to bring.
  • Depending on the weather, you’ll be zipping around in a Zodiac boat quite regularly to explore the area and search for wildlife. It can get very cold and wet on the Zodiac, so make sure you dress appropriately and keep your camera safe and dry. Enduring the elements is one thing, having no photos to show for it is another. Sturdy sea legs are needed for wet and dry landings from the boat, as well as on steep terrain, snow and other uneven surfaces. The Ocean Endeavour has a lift, but you’ll need to take the stairs to get to the gangway and some other parts of the ship that the lift does not provide access to.
  • The weather plays a pivotal part in this adventure and, although there’s an itinerary in place, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to do everything that is planned for. A level of flexibility and openness to embracing the unexpected are important in expedition travel, especially in such a remote area. There are nearly 200 recognized sites in the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetlands; the places mentioned in the itinerary may need to be changed to others (which are just as interesting). We may also be confined to the ship during rough weather. The ship’s library and educational lectures are ideal ways to stay entertained, while the wellness spa, saunas, gym and yoga classes will keep you fresh for when the weather clears.

Arrival

No visas are required to visit the Antarctic continent or its offshore islands. However, you will need to have your passport with you on the ship, as port authorities will wish to inspect passports upon departure from Ushuaia and also again at the end of your voyage.

For all departures, the Ocean Endeavour departs for the Antarctic continent from the port of Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina. Currently, no visas for Argentina are required by holders of Australian, New Zealand, British, Canadian, U.S.A. or European passports. Passengers holding passports issued by other countries should carefully check the situation with Argentinean consular authorities

For the Falkland Islands, visitors from Britain, the Commonwealth, North America, Chile and the European Community currently do not need visas. If you hold a passport issued by another country, carefully check if you require a visa by visiting your nearest British Embassy or Consulate or visit www.fco.gov.uk. If you require a visa and currently reside in the United Kingdom, you should instead contact the Falkland Islands Customs and Immigration Department directly for advice first (tel: 020 7222 2375).

If you do require a visa, remember that visas can take several weeks to process, so make sure you research the requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for obtaining any necessary documents as well as the application and processing time.

As rules and restrictions are constantly changing, please check your government’s foreign travel advisory regarding travel to Argentina.

Requirements in Argentina currently include return travel reservation/tickets, a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before travel, and evidence of medical travel insurance that includes hospitalization and quarantine coverage for COVID-19.

On the final day of the voyage, we can arrange for testing to be conducted. Our team will ensure that results will be available before you depart for the airport. This is payable in cash to your tour leader or medical professional. Our team will handle the logistics and be sure your results are in on time and printed before you depart Argentina.

Upon arrival we have an escort meeting you at the airport, just look for the sign with the SoFe logo! He will lead you through the visa and immigration process and bring you to your driver waiting outside. The driver will take you directly to the hotel where they will meet our leader.

You need a valid passport to travel internationally. Most countries require that your passport does not expire for at least 6 months after the date you enter. We require your passport details 45 days before departure. When booking your Meetup Tour, please enter your name as it appears on your passport and contact us immediately if there are any errors. 

Optional Activities

For this tour, we offer a selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travelers. All of these activities must be booked prior to departure and incur an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. For kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential.

Health

Tap water on board the ship and in Ushuaia is safe to drink.
We’re able to meet most special dietary requests, as long as you have clearly indicated your requirements far in advance of your voyage. Kosher food cannot be prepared. We suggest bringing supplemental snacks like protein powders and bars just in case. It is ultimately your responsibility not to consume anything to which you are allergic. You may wish to speak with your tour leader at the beginning of the tour to make your requirements clear and to ask for your options throughout the tour.

As of April 1, 2021, we have updated our policies to require all travelers to show one of the following upon meeting the group on day 1:

-Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or
– Proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before day 1 of your trip

Accommodation

1 night comfortable hotel, 19 nights expedition cruise ship  

Cabins on the ship are either twin share or triple share with an ensuite unless you upgrade to a private room, based on availability.

This tour is aboard the comfortable and spacious Ocean Endeavor. The ship has a wide range of cabin types, including both single, twin, and triple cabins located either on the interior of the ship or on the exterior with a porthole or picture window. If there is a problem with your cabin, always alert your tour leader so it can be remedied if possible.

Sometimes it is not possible to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels, especially if you arrive before check-in time at the hotel in Ushuaia. We can store your luggage and you can explore the surrounding area. Standard check in time is 4:00pm.

Check out is after breakfast on the last day

Extra nights at our hotel in Ushuaia are available. You may have to switch rooms at the beginning or end of the tour.

Transportation

Private air-conditioned vehicle, expedition cruise ship, zodiac

Money and finances

Spending money is a personal choice, and everyone will have different spending habits and needs. It is best to budget a reasonable amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping, and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Please have a thorough look at the itinerary and at what is included so you will be prepared for what isn’t included. Our Meetup Tour is very inclusive, however some meals, tips, and extras are not included. This guide should make budgeting a little clearer.

All meals are included once you board the Ocean Endeavour, but some meals are not included prior to boarding the ship or after you have disembarked.


Meals at a local restaurant in Ushuaia should cost around $6USD. However, local street food is relatively safe to eat and is normally much cheaper.


Your leader and guide will help you find local options. Meals will cost between $5USD to $20USD, depending on the restaurant.


Food prices in Ushuaia range widely from cheap street food to fine dining. If you have a strict budget, be mindful of your choices and let your tour leader know the type of food you are looking for, so she can direct you to the best places.

The US Dollar will be the standard currency on board, but if you’d like to have some local currency handy for Ushuaia, ATMs are widely available in the downtown area. Most major credit cards are accepted in Ushuaia while Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Discover Card and American Express are accepted on board for settling your shipboard account. An account for payment will be presented to you on the final day of the voyage. Final payment can be made using cash or credit card. Alert your bank that you will be traveling before departure to avoid being locked out of your account while abroad, as they may suspect fraud.
There is no currency exchange at the Ushuaia airport. The best way to get local currency is by using an ATM with a debit card or waiting until you get into town to visit a bank. Keep in mind that you will need to show your passport to exchange money.
Tipping is not standard practice in Argentina, however, if you are satisfied with the services provided, a small tip of 10% is appropriate and always appreciated. Note that tips can’t be added to credit card bills in Argentina, so be sure to carry some cash for this purpose.

To help you understand how much to tip at the end of your voyage, we have provided some ideas for amounts. These are suggestions, as tipping is always a personal choice and at your discretion. 

Ship’s Crew and Hospitality Staff: We suggest $13USD – $15USD per day as a guide

Drivers: Our drivers’ tips are included in your tour cost

Your Tour Guide: You may also consider tipping your tour guide for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is completely at your discretion, however as a guideline $3USD – $5USD per person, per day is standard practice. Of course, you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

It is not necessary or expected to tip your Tour Leader, but small, sweet gifts, even handwritten notes, are very appreciated if you feel that your Tour Leader improved your experience.

As mentioned before, the currency onboard is the US Dollar and US Dollars are widely accepted in Ushuaia, though the rate may not be in your favor. In Argentina, the currency is the Argentine Peso. Notes come in 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos, coins of 1, 2, and 5 pesos, and 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos. 

We recommend always having small denominations of pesos for tipping and small purchases.

Packing

The dress code on board is relaxed and casual and you will not need to dress formally for meals. The inside of the ship is well heated, so you will not require special clothing on board. Indeed, you could spend most of your time in light trousers and a t-shirt! However, it is not unusual for you to want to go out on deck suddenly – a whale sighting or seals on a nearby ice-floe nearly always produce a major exodus, so you need to keep warm clothing handy at all times, even when a shore excursion is not imminent. When you do go ashore you will require warm clothing – a few layers of light and medium-weight items which can be easily adjusted rather than one or two large and bulky items – and wet weather gear to protect you from the spray which can sometimes be encountered on the Zodiacs.
This is a general list to be used as a guideline. If you think you need more items, pack them.
  • Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Trip Notes
  • Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance
  • Spare passport photos
  • Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card
  • Money belt (for travelling en route)
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Seasickness medication
  • Daypack (lightweight and waterproof)
  • Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
  • Electrical adapter plug
  • Toiletries/travel wipes
  • Sunscreen, lip balm, moisturising cream, sunhat and sunglasses (with UV protection)
  • Swimsuit for the Polar plunge
  • Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)
  • 2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain)
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Gloves (2 pairs minimum)
  • Hat that covers ears
  • Scarf or other face protection
  • Wind and waterproof pants (a few sizes larger)
  • Warm pants
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Long wool or cotton socks (for expeditions)
  • Silk or polypropylene socks (for inside the ship)
  • Thermal underwear (silk or polypropylene)
  • Jumpers/sweaters/fleeces
  • Cotton t-shirts
  • Camera and device for backing up photos
  • Plastic bags with zippers (for keeping small items waterproofed)
  • Binoculars
The Antarctic Peninsula has relatively mild weather conditions when compared to the rest of the continent. Its temperatures are warmest in January, averaging 34 to 36°F (1 to 2°C) and with as much as 17 hours of sunlight per day, and coldest in June with averages from 5 to −4°F (−15 to −20°C) and as little as 7 hours of sunlight per day. The snow season is between June and October. The climate in South Georgia is quite humid and windy year round with temperatures averaging 43°F (6°C) during the warmest month of February and hovering around freezing during the coldest months of June and July. Snow is possible year round, but it’s most likely to occur during the months of mid-April through October. The Falkland Islands experience wind and rain year round and a relatively steady temperature range due to the influence of the seas and constant winds. The coldest period is from April to October with average temperatures around 35°F (2°C) and highs around 37-39°F (3-4°C). The warmest months (January and February) experience an average temperature of about 50°F (10°C) and highs around 57°F (14°C).

Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables. We recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

For Argentina, there are two associated plug types C and I. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and plug type I is the plug which has 3 thin slots in a triangle pattern with a single vertical pin at the base and the top two slots sloping upwards. Argentina operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz. We always suggest bringing a universal adaptor.

Phone and internet access

The Ocean Endeavour has facilities to communicate with the outside world.

Satellite phone communications are available but be aware that this connection is only available in certain locations and may not be possible from your cabin. Satellite communications can be intermittent and may not be available at all times or in all locations. Phone calls are charged per minute of usage.

Internet access is possible via wifi on your personal laptop or device in certain areas of the ship and is charged via a pre-paid card which can be purchased through the hotel manager. Please be aware, accessing some websites from the ship will be very expensive as downloading picture heavy content will use up a large amount of data. Text only emails use up much less data and is a very affordable way to communicate with friends and family at home.

All communications from the ship are a bit intermittent as when travelling through mountainous areas or through narrow channels, signals can be disrupted and may not be transmitted until clearing this terrain or until satellites next pass overhead. Please make sure your loved ones have realistic expectations of your ability to communicate with them so they don’t worry about you.

You can purchase a prepaid sim card in Ushuaia. This option only works on unlocked phones. Plans and prices are quite cheap for the main mobile carriers: Movistar, Claro, and Personal. Expect to pay somewhere around 20 pesos for your initial credits. You will need your passport to register your sim card. 

Alternatively, ask your home service provider for international plans.

Group leader and guide

All tours with The Solo Female Traveler Network are accompanied by a guide who is with the group for the whole trip. The guide’s role is to be the local expert of the destination and coordinate a lot of the on the ground logistics. They are not always a native of the country, but they are always experienced expert guides. 

Most of our tours also include a leader, whose role is to enrich the experience socially. She will help bridge any cultural differences, manage group expectations, and capture the tour in photos and videos for marketing purposes. Some tours will not include a Tour Leader, and in this case, our local guide will act as both guide and leader.

Traveling as a woman

We believe that every woman should dress as she chooses and should feel free to experience the world without extra worry for her safety. Unfortunately, the rest of the word does not practice gender equality as we wish. It’s important to adapt to local customs to be safer and to respect not only the locals, but also your fellow travelers. The likelihood of anything happening on your trip is quite low, but we recommend being aware of the following safety tips:

Street harassment such as cat calls, stares, invitations to get in a car/bar/restaurant/home could happen in Argentina. These are our tips for responding to this unwanted attention:

  • Ignore. Don’t even bother smiling. Just keep about your business.
  • Wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact.
  • Ignore. We mean it, so we said it twice! Ignore them but also ignore your internal commentary on it all. Let it roll off your back and walk on focusing on all the amazing things around you.
  • Dress respectfully and you will find both men and women will respond to you in a more respectful manner.
  • While it very unlikely to happen, do feel free to stand up for yourself if you feel threatened.  Argentinian men you do not know should not be touching you at all and if you’re in public, people will come to your aid if you make a fuss.

When not with your guide, we recommend the following:

  • Do not walk in isolated areas or at night by yourself
  • If hotel staff need to enter your room, arrange to be either on tour or in the lobby, so you are not alone.
  • Respect the local customs, which may mean dressing more conservatively than you do at home.
  • Do not hire a driver or guide for tours from the street. Always go with a reputable company or ask us to help you arrange any pre or post experiences. 
  • Do not accept any invitations for anything from random people on the street.
  • Always carry your tour guide’s contact information and hotel address with you during solo time.
  • Alert your guide of any inappropriate behavior or perceived risk to your safety.

Safety

We recommend that you stay up to date on travel safety updates on your home country government website. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, but they are not required to accompany you on solo time, where you can relax, choose an optional activity, or explore on your own. During solo time, we do not vouch for the safety of the experiences you choose, even if our guide or leader recommends them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Our team on the ground is always monitoring the safety situation and reserves the authority to cancel or change experiences at their discretion if deemed unsafe.

Seat belts are always provided and must be worn in accordance with local law. 

Cars drive on the right side of the road in Argentina. Practice extreme caution when crossing the street. Also note that traffic may be much heavier and road rules may be very different from what you are used to. Be careful and aware that pedestrians do not have the right of way.

While most of the tour, especially in major cities, will be with your guide and the group, petty theft is common in any tourist area. Do not walk around alone at night if it can be avoided and hold your belongings close on public transportation. Your local guide will give you some safety tips throughout your tour, and we suggest heeding this advice.

Please do not enter the water without a life vest and a buddy if you are not an experienced swimmer. Alert the leader and guide to your ability level before participating in water activities. Lifeguards are not on duty and our staff are not trained in water rescue. 

We suggest checking your government’s advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is mandatory on all our Meetup Tours. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company’s 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank’s name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

Group rules

With almost all of our travelers coming on the Meetup Tour solo, we have women from different countries, backgrounds, perspectives, and opinions. This is part of what makes our tours so special and what often leaves our travelers with couches to crash on around the world and even long time friendships. Like any group, especially one consisting of people of different ages coming from all corners of the world, this can also cause clashes in culture and disagreements. We promote an environment of kindness, empowerment, and communication, so certain behaviors will not be tolerated for the benefit of everyone’s experience. 

A great group dynamic takes effort, patience, and compassion from every member. Bullying, threatening, and violence of staff, locals, and fellow participants will not be tolerated on our trips.

Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while traveling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

The group guide and leader have final say on all matters that affect the safety or well-being of any traveler or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund.