Our Antarctic Ports
All of our Antarctic and South Georgia expeditions depart and finish in small towns or cities in Chile or Argentina in South America. Many major airlines fly to either Santiago or Buenos Aires, with onward connections to our starting points. Find out more about your departure and finishing gateways and the best flight route for each.
Argentina’s 'Gateway to Antarctica' is a bustling, upmarket, Beagle Channel port, nestled amongst spectacular mountains. The town boasts great shops, cafés, restaurants, a museum and the historic "End of the World Train" to Tierra del Fuego National Park. Must try: locally-made chocolates, ice cream and for carnivores, parillada mixta (bbq mixed grill). Hike to a glacier above the town. We embark or disembark here for most of our Antarctic and South Georgia voyages. The easiest way to reach Ushuaia is via daily flights from Buenos Aires.
Punta Arenas, Chile
Tucked into the Strait of Magellan’s north coast; its red-roofs adding warmth to an oft-windswept landscape; Punta Arenas has long been known as a gateway to Patagonia. Easily reached by a 3.5-hour flight from Santiago, it has become our hub for flights connecting to our Antarctic and South Georgia voyages. Flights to or from King George Island spend a night here, while trips leaving from or returning to both Puerto Williams and Stanley include the Punta Arenas flight sector.
Puerto Williams, Chile
Our newest departure port is located on Isla Navarino, just down the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia, and a few hours’ sailing closer to Antarctica. Chile’s 'Town at the End of the World' is set against the dramatic Dientes de Navarino mountains. Our expeditions either fly into Puerto Williams from Punta Arenas (a short 45-minute flight) to begin a voyage or disembark here at voyage end for Punta Arenas flight. Either way, we enjoy a tour of this delightful port and its natural surrounds. Please note that sailing between Puerto Williams and Antarctica requires a Drake Crossing.
King George Island, Antarctica
Largest of the South Shetland Islands, King George Island (KGI) lies 65 nautical miles west of the Antarctic Peninsula and a comfortable two-hour flight across the Drake Passage from Punta Arenas. On clear days, views from the BAE-146 aircraft are spectacular as we fly to or from the airstrip at Chile’s Frei Base on KGI. Whether boarding or disembarking Polar Pioneer, we plan a short visit to Frei Base as well as Trinity Church, a small Russian Orthodox chapel near Bellingshausen Station. Flights are weather dependent and our voyage schedule is designed to allow for possible delays.
Stanley, Falkland Islands
Nestled into a north-facing hillside above a protected harbour, Stanley’s brightly-painted houses warmly welcome our arrival, whether it be by air or sea. If by air, we fly from Santiago or Punta Arenas and land at Mt Pleasant, a military base about an hour’s drive from town. If we arrive by sea, we disembark Polar Pioneer at the FIPASS wharf, near the town centre. Each voyage includes a transfer between airport and ship. Ask our team about an extended stay in Stanley, the perfect base for exploring other wildlife-rich Falkland Islands.
Many international airlines fly directly into Santiago, Chile’s capital, and largest city, which sprawls across a flat plain, surrounded on all sides by magnificent mountains. Enjoy great walks at Cerro San Cristobel and search out the city’s best barrios for delicious meals, quirky shopping and lively nightlife. If time allows, take a day trip to the mountains and wineries nearby. Expeditioners who start or finish their South Georgia and Antarctica voyage in Stanley will fly from or to Santiago on an included flight, with an opportunity to break the flight in Punta Arenas.
Getting to our ports
From Australia & NZ
- Qantas and LATAM operate frequent services from Sydney and Auckland to Santiago, and Air New Zealand operate between Auckland and Buenos Aires with connecting flights to and from Australia.
From North America
- Major Carriers including LATAM as well as United, American, Air Canada and Delta Airways, who all have frequent services to Argentina and Chile from their North American hub cities.
- All major European and South American Airlines operate services from Europe to our South American gateways. Popular carriers from Europe include KLM, Air France, Lufthansa and Iberia, as well as the South American carriers such as LATAM and Avianca.
The staff and crew were excellent and all worked hard to make the trip an experience to remember.Karen Bonthrone, UK - Weddell Sea and Antarctic Explorer, February 2016
Thanks for making a life long dream become a reality. The ship, the Drake, Antarctica, the staff, and the whole experience was better than I had hoped for. I am so glad that I finally did this trip and thanks to people like you who make small ships and small groups possible.Wendy Smith - Spirit of Antarctica, 2015
I would like to commend the staff and crew - it was them who made the trip both a learning experience and something to be enjoyed. They were always prepared to go the extra mile.Helen Veivers - Christmas in Antarctica, 2015