0. Arrival Day
We ask you to arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile at least two full days prior to your scheduled Antarctic flight in order to fully prepare you for your upcoming experience. These days also allow a buffer for flight and luggage delays should your travels to Chile not go as scheduled. We do not hold Antarctic flights for delayed passengers or luggage.
Do not forget to collect your checked luggage in Santiago, before clearing customs! Upon arrival in Chile, you will pass through immigration, collect your checked luggage, go through customs, and then go to the 3rd floor of the terminal and re-check your bags for your domestic flight to Punta Arenas. If your luggage does not arrive, complete a missing form for lost luggage before leaving the Santiago airport.
Upon arrival at Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (PUQ), our representative, holding a sign, will be waiting for you at the exit of the luggage claim area and will transport you to your hotel.
0. Pre-departure Day
- Luggage Preparations
Please notify us in advance if you plan to have more than 55 lb (25 kg) of luggage. Ski aircraft have strict cargo limits and we may not be able to accommodate excess luggage without advance notice. Keep the following requirements in mind as you prepare your luggage:
• All luggage must comply with international air transport regulations.
• Fuels or other hazardous substances are prohibited on flights to Antarctica.
• Spare or loose lithium batteries are prohibited in checked luggage and must be packed in your carry-on.
• For the safety of our staff, individual bags must not weigh more than 66 lb (30 kg).
On the morning before your Antarctic flight, we will come to your hotel at your scheduled Luggage Pick-Up time. Be ready in the lobby with ALL of the luggage you will be taking to Antarctica including checked luggage and items that will be carried on. We will weigh everything but will only collect your checked luggage at this time.
Day 1 Fly to Antarctica
We will call you at your hotel in the morning to advise you of current conditions in Antarctica. If the weather is suitable for our flight, we will pick you up at your hotel within the hour. Please meet us in the lobby with hotel bills paid, ready to board the bus. At the Punta Arenas airport, we board our chartered jet for the 4¼ hour flight to Antarctica. Our route crosses the Drake Passage, then follows the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the spine of the Ellsworth Mountains. We land on a naturally occurring blue-ice runway on Union Glacier where you will take your first steps on Antarctica. Climb aboard one of our specially-adapted vans for the 5 mi (8 km) shuttle to our main camp. Our friendly staff will provide a welcome tour of camp and show you to your tent.
Day 2-5 Explore Union Glacier
During your week stay in Antarctica, you’ll have multiple days to explore Union Glacier. Our meteorologists will carefully monitor the weather conditions and find the best day for your South Pole Flight.
A typical day at Union Glacier starts with a briefing after breakfast where you’ll meet with your guide to discuss the day’s options and choose an activity tailored to the weather and the group’s interests. Union Glacier excursions can include any of the following destinations:
Ride in one of our vehicles to this dramatic marble buttress overlooking the blue-ice runway. Beautiful ice pools and moraines offer endless opportunities for photography. If you’re looking for something more active, you’ll have the opportunity to hike up to the base of Elephant’s Head or all the way to the top of Rhodes Bluff for panoramic views of Union Glacier and the Heritage Range.
Board our one-of-a-kind Tucker Bus, a custom designed tracked vehicle, for the scenic drive to the remote Buchanan Hills. You’ll arrive at a high pass that offers expansive views of Union Glacier as it flows into Constellation Inlet. Higgins Nunatak pokes through the ice, like an atoll in a frozen ocean. For the fit and adventurous, there are two easy hiking routes that require no prior experience and grant you the rare opportunity to summit a peak in the heart of Antarctica.
Named in the 1960s after geologist Benjamin Drake IV, this impressive icefall tumbles off the polar plateau into Union Glacier. Winds from the South Pole carve huge waves into the blue-ice and polish the surface into a high shine.
Charles Peak Windscoop
Discover the power of wind on ice as you wander through a sparkling turquoise corridor. If you’re truly adventurous, this is a prime place to try ice climbing with one of our experienced guides. For the less vertically inclined, you can rock hunt to your heart’s content. Just remember to leave them in place, as nothing may be removed from Antarctica.
The Beach at Rossman Cove
Another spectacular setting for blue-ice photography and panoramic views! Take cross-country skis with you or a picnic lunch and enjoy Antarctica’s version of a glacial beach getaway.
Our staff’s favorite getaway—this secret canyon opens up to a beautiful valley prime for snowmobiling, hiking, climbing, and backcountry skiing. If you’d prefer to stay closer to camp, we have a variety of activities for all abilities. You can check out a pair of cross-country skis or a fat-tire bike and take a spin around our groomed 10k loop or you can enjoy a cup of tea, an Antarctic book, or fun game in our camp library. In the evenings, we regularly offer lectures and films tailored to your experience.
The Day to Fly to the South Pole
Once weather conditions permit, you will board our ski aircraft and head for the southernmost point on Earth! Your flight is planned to return the same day but we will bring food and camping equipment in the event weather conditions change and an overnight stay is necessary. Our guest services team will assist you in packing your sleeping bag.
The flight to the Pole will take between 4-6 hours depending on the aircraft. You’ll fly over the high, polar plateau, viewing wind affected snow called sastrugi, crevasse fields, and an endless expanse of white.
You’ll pass the Thiel Mountains approximately halfway to the Pole and continue to fly over the plateau. As you near 90° South, you will catch sight of the South Pole station, a cluster of buildings surrounded by snow and sky.
Our aircraft lands on a groomed ski-way and you’ll deplane near the South Pole marker. Here all 360 lines of longitude meet and beneath your feet the ice is almost 10,000 ft (3000 m) thick! You have joined an exclusive group of people who have journeyed this far south on our planet. Congratulations!
Be prepared for extreme cold and the effects of altitude as you deplane. South Pole temperatures range from -31° to -13°F (-35° to -25°C) and even the slightest breeze can quickly freeze exposed skin. Put on warm layers and cover your hands and face completely.
The physiological altitude (how high it feels) at the South Pole is roughly 11,000 ft (3300 m). You may feel the effects of altitude, including shortness of breath and mild headache. Take it slow and steady to help your body cope with these unfamiliar conditions.
One of our experienced medics accompanies all South Pole flights and is ready to assist you should you have any issues with the cold or altitude.
The United States of America maintains a research station at the South Pole, named Amundsen-Scott Station in memory of those intrepid explorers. If United States Antarctic Program (USAP) staff are available, you will be escorted inside the research station for a guided visit.
Outside the station, you will have plenty of time to take photos at both the Geographic and Ceremonial Poles. Enjoy this special place and imagine how it must have felt to stand here a century ago with only the sound of the wind and an endless expanse of white stretching northward in all directions.
Your visit to the Pole will last approximately 3-4 hours. Given the cold conditions and altitude, we’ve found this to be the perfect amount of time for guests to accomplish their objectives and enjoy the experience.
Day 6 or 7 Return to Chile
When weather and runway conditions permit, our intercontinental aircraft will arrive at Union Glacier to transport you back to Chile. Our staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you back to your hotel
Day to Fly Home
We recommend booking your flight home one week after your return Antarctic flight. If you purchase a full-fare ticket, most airlines will allow you to move your departure date. It is important to give yourself a buffer as delays are common in Antarctic travel. Our Punta Arenas team can provide a list of local tour operators and excursions if you wish to explore Chile before you return home. When it is time for your flight home, our staff will provide transportation from your hotel to the Punta Arenas airport.