Can You Fly to Antarctica?


The Drake Passage, located between South America's Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, is a key maritime route, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It can be one of the most challenging and iconic maritime crossings worldwide.

Going through the Drake Passage, with its wild waves and strong winds, might be a thrill for some, but for others, it's a deal-breaker. So is there another way you can get to Antarctica? Yes, there's a shortcut to this remote and mesmerizing land – flying!

Our team of experts created a detailed guide on how to fly to Antarctica. We’ll cover the pros and cons of fly-cruise expeditions – your ticket to a hassle-free adventure. Plus, we'll address the most commonly asked questions to ensure you're well-prepared for the adventure of a lifetime.

Don't Let Seasickness Sink Your Antarctic Dream!

The Drake Passage, deemed the ultimate challenge for Antarctic enthusiasts, offers a journey of contrasts. It can be either a calm and picturesque journey or a wild and thrilling test of your resilience. According to our Antarctica specialists, it's a coin toss – a 50/50 chance for either scenario, highlighting the feeling of a true adventure. But don’t worry we know how to maximize your exploration experience and minimize open-sea challenges.

Pioneered in 2003 by the masterminds behind Ocean Nova, fly cruise trips set the stage for a new era of Antarctic exploration with guest’s comfort in mind. The purpose of these unique voyages is to fly passengers across the formidable Drake Passage, avoiding the long sea crossing and saving time. Perfect for those prone to seasickness. 

Over the years, these transformative voyages have orchestrated more than 140 successful journeys with remarkable efficiency and minimal delays. Operated by DAP Antarctic Airways using a BAe 146-200 aircraft (70 passengers max), the two-hour flight from Punta Arenas, Chile, brings you to King George Island, making it the most comfortable and epic journey of your life. 

On  King George Island the cruise ship of your choosing is waiting for you to board. Besides it being your embarkation point, this multicultural hub, situated 130km off Antarctica's coast, hosts bases from eight countries and even boasts the world's southernmost Marathon.

Fly-Cruise: A Gateway to a Unique Exploration

Picture this: gliding through the skies from Chile to King George Island in just two hours, catching a stunning view of the vast Drake Passage. Yep, that's the beauty of fly-cruise expeditions! 

It’s a perfect option for those craving a comprehensive Antarctic experience, fly-cruise itineraries offer unparalleled flexibility. Whether you prefer flying to and from Antarctica, flying to the continent then cruising back, or solely cruising, there's an option tailored to your preferences. Let's delve deeper into each to find your perfect match.

Wings and Waves: Fly Down, Cruise Around, Fly Back!

If seasickness has always been an obstacle for you, opt for a fly-cruise that takes you to the most remote part of the world in a mere two hours. Join a fast round flight to and from the Antarctica Peninsula, seamlessly transitioning into a captivating cruise adventure between the flights. 

With Fly/Cruise programs across seven vessels, there's a ship for every kind of explorer offering different types of fly-cruise options. Usually, our ship capacities range from 8 passengers to 150+. Depending upon your budget or duration of stay you can pick a larger ship with a more luxurious feel, ideal for those prone to seasickness, or a smaller one for a more authentic expedition experience. 

Ocean Nova (Fly/Cruise pioneers) / (Expedition Standard Vessel)

Experience the convenience of flying to and from King George Island, enjoying the temperamental Drake Passage from above. Embark on a thrilling Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise aboard the Ocean Nova, a vessel designed for both comfort and true expedition vibes. This journey caters to adventure enthusiasts and those seeking a gentler seas experience.

This vessel accommodates up to 68 guests, ensuring ample time for shore exploration in the pristine Antarctic landscape. Explore the South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Sound, Garlache Strait, and Penola Strait on an 8-day itinerary filled with Zodiac cruising, Antarctica lectures, historical site visits, and never-before-seen landscapes.

Or engage in optional polar activities like sea kayaking and snowshoeing under expert guidance. Whether you're an experienced traveller or just a beginner, this journey promises unforgettable memories amidst Antarctica's untouched beauty.

Moreover, if you want to venture further Ocean Nova carries out  Polar Circle Air-Cruise for those who want to try reaching the Polar Circle. With comfortable cabins, delicious cuisine, and onboard amenities, Ocean Nova ensures a comfortable retreat between adventures. This air cruise provides a unique opportunity to explore the wonders of Antarctica efficiently, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a condensed yet immersive Antarctic experience.

Magellan Explorer (Brand New Expedition Vessel)

For those in pursuit of both remarkable destinations and the utmost comfort of a luxurious hotel, the Magellan Explorer stands as the ultimate choice. This short but eventful 8-day Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise, between the South Shetland Islands and the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, provides you with an unforgettable experience both onboard and onshore.

Led by professional guides and helpful crew members, you will explore historical sites, learn crucial information about Antarctica and its inhabitants, witness diverse wildlife, and partake in optional activities like sea kayaking or snowshoeing. Moreover, daily Zodiac explorations are skillfully guided by our polar experts for you to better merge with stunning nature. 

Our team constantly monitors weather conditions to tailor your trip accordingly because Antarctica is a realm of constant change, and adaptability is crucial. You don’t have to worry about activities during harsh weather conditions because our team skillfully crafts the voyage, ensuring each expedition is a unique and extraordinary experience. 

While the exact itinerary varies, expect visits to key locations such as the South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Sound, Garlache Strait, and Penola Strait, providing a comprehensive overview of Antarctica's diverse environment.

Hans Hansson (Expedition Standard Vessel)

If you crave an expedition that gives you Shackleton-like experiences, then Hans Hansson is your ship. Designed for Antarctic exploration, it accommodates just 12 guests and 7 crew members, ensuring an exceptional and personalized Antarctic voyage.

This extraordinary Fly-Cruise adventure ensures a swift crossing of the Drake Passage and allows you a generous 2-week exploration of Antarctica. The vessel's unique ambiance fosters camaraderie, enhancing the sense of adventure during landings and zodiac tours. Without waiting time for landings, guests have the freedom to thoroughly explore, ensuring an unforgettable journey amidst Antarctica's breathtaking scenery. 

Explore the volcanic South Shetland’s islands nicknamed the “Banana Belt of Antarctica,” where Deception Island, a volcanic haven, offers unique experiences like thermal pools and seals on its shores. While Aitcho Island unfolds mossy green carpets and southern elephant seals, providing a glimpse into the diverse Antarctic landscape.

Sail into the Gerlache Strait, flanked by towering peaks, and unveil a surreal blend of wildlife and glacial grandeur, making it a captivating passage for an unforgettable Antarctic expedition. Moreover, Zodiac cruising amid ethereal mountains and glaciers along the Danco Coast, Wilhelmina Bay, Neko Harbour, and Paradise Bay would forever echo in your memory. 

Witness sculpted blue icebergs floating majestically amidst the Neumeyer and Lemaire channels, while penguins and seals grace the shores. The ethereal beauty of these passages offers an unforgettable glimpse into Antarctica's untamed beauty. 

Port Lockroy, at the end of the Peltier Channel, offers a maritime museum and a sprawling gentoo penguin colony. Embrace the golden light of an Antarctic evening, absorbing the beauty and silence of this extraordinary landscape.

With included activities like kayaking, camping, and citizen science on board, Hans Hansson stands out as the ultimate choice for an intimate and immersive expedition. Its small capacity prioritizes comfort and functionality, providing close encounters with Antarctica's mesmerizing landscapes and wildlife. 

National Geographic Explorer (Luxury Expedition Vessel)

Calling all solo adventurers – this ship is your perfect match! With a welcoming atmosphere, Explorer accommodates 148 guests, including 14 cabins dedicated to solo travellers, this ship is perfect for those who value their personal space during their travels. Moreover, if you are keen on swift and easy journeys across the unpredictable seas then Antarctica Direct: Fly The Drake Passage cruise is your go-to. 

Explore the breathtaking beauty of Antarctica with efficiency on a new itinerary. Skip the traditional Drake Passage crossing with a two-hour flight to and from Antarctica, maximizing your time to discover all the highlights. 

Expedition Highlights:

• Fly across the Drake Passage from Puerto Natales to King George Island, landing at the Chilean research station.
• Have a chat with experienced polar captains with over 55 years of expedition voyages.
• Hike amid magnificent mountains, witness huge glaciers, and observe Gentoo, Adélie, and chinstrap penguins.
• Experience the stillness of protected waters while Zodiac cruising around icebergs, and kayaking, surrounded by wildlife swimming nearby. Or engage in optional tranquil activities like hiking or even cross-country skiing in November. Enjoy either an active agenda or unwind and enjoy the views from your cabin.

For the curious ones who want to know everything about this remote continent, there’s a diverse team of experts aboard the National Geographic Explorer, who have all the answers to your questions. 

In case you want to test your resilience and pass the Drake Passage by ship National Geographic Explorer offers you Antarctica Direct: Sail And Fly The Drake Passage option. This 10-day cruise offers you a similar itinerary but with a more adventurous twist for those who want to brave the sea but are short on holiday time off work.

Fly Down, Cruise Through, Sail Back Home!

World Explorer (Brand New Expedition Vessel)

Embark on a 10-day odyssey with the flexibility to conquer the renowned Drake Passage either by air or sea. The World Explorer grants you the choice to sail from Ushuaia, with a return flight to Punta Arenas, or opt for a flight to Antarctica and a majestic sea voyage back. This experience is seamlessly enhanced by our expert team which is there for you 24/7. 

By choosing Antarctic Express: Fly South, Cruise North you arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile where your charter flight to Antarctica is waiting for you to take you to King George Island. Unlike our ship-based travellers who spend two days crossing the Drake Passage, your journey will take less than four hours. Upon arrival, you'll have free time to photograph parts of the island and stretch your legs before joining the ship. 

Sailing towards the South Shetland Islands, your main destination, witness whales swimming and penguins frolicking in freezing waters amid towering, snow-covered mountains of massive glaciers. Each Zodiac excursion offers new sights, sounds, and smells, from exciting beach landings with curious gentoo penguins to exhilarating hikes for panoramic views. Even simple tasks, like mailing a postcard, become exciting in Antarctica. 

Crossing the Drake Passage marks the culmination of your Antarctic adventure. As the journey home begins, wildlife spotting persists. After a two-day journey back you arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina.

Antarctic Express: Cruise South, Fly North

Choosing to cross the Drake Passage by sea may initially feel overwhelming, but the wonders awaiting you are truly extraordinary. Our team of onboard polar experts will keep you not only entertained but also educated through insightful presentations on wildlife, history, glaciology, and geology. Our itinerary is always flexible and gives you the possibility to encounter iconic Antarctic wildlife, from penguins and seals to Minke and humpback whales or Adélie penguins.

Moreover, besides exploring the icy landscapes, wildlife, and water-level views of icebergs, you can opt for additional activities like stand-up paddleboarding, sea kayaking, hiking, polar plunge, Zodiak cruising, or paddling excursions.

Join this unforgettable expedition aboard the World Explorer, immersing yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Antarctica.

Greg Mortimer (Brand New Expedition Vessel)

Named after Australian adventurer Greg Mortimer, this vessel incorporates cutting-edge naval design and technology for an enhanced small-ship expedition experience. It offers two cruise options - a 13-day Antarctic Explorer and its more concise version a 9-day Antarctic Explorer (Express). Both of these cruises aim at optimizing your travel time and maximizing your Antarctica experience. 

Opting for a 13-day cruise grants you more time to explore Antarctica and its islands. Flying from Punta Arenas, Chile gives you a headstart on your journey saving you 2 days at crossing the Drake Passage. After landing at King George Island you will have some time to take your first pictures of this frozen beauty and then board your ship. 

Weather conditions might make some alterations to the existing itinerary but our highly qualified team knows how to benefit from any circumstances. Moreover, having balconies in 80% of cabins and several viewing points gives you a chance to spot a spectacular view even in gloomy weather.

Be prepared to witness the geological wonders of Deception Island, an active volcanic caldera boasting thermal pools and historical remnants of past expeditions. Navigate through pristine channels and fjords, surrounded by breathtaking ice formations and quirky wildlife.

For the 9-day Antarctic Explorer (Express), the itinerary follows a similar route but departs from a different starting point. Commencing in Ushuaia, Argentina, you'll have the opportunity to discover the charm of this welcoming city before embarking on the Greg Mortimer. Aboard the ship, you'll receive a thorough briefing from our team and set sail across the Drake Passage.

During your voyage you’ll visit scientific research stations to gain insights into ongoing studies and the importance of conservation efforts in this remote wilderness. Delve into the region's history and ecology through informative onboard lectures and presentations by experienced guides and naturalists.

Experience the mesmerizing Antarctic wildlife, from adorable penguin chicks to majestic whales and seals. Make sure you come in January or February to witness the birth and fledging of Antarctica's adorable offspring.

Also, you will have a chance to explore the picturesque Lemaire Channel and discover the enchanting South Shetland Islands. For the adventurous, opt for additional experiences like snorkeling, sea kayaking, and paddling.

Sylvia Earle (Luxury Expedition Vessel)

This cruise would suit perfectly those who are worried about seasickness. Navigating the challenging Drake Passage our expeditions face nature's fiercest conditions but Sylvia Earle stands at the forefront of nautical technology, robust, powerful, stable, and fully equipped.

It offers a 20-day South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey Sail/Fly Expedition cruise for those who want to have a more detailed and immersive expedition experience and see it all. 

You start at Ushuaia where you have some time to do last-minute shopping or sightseeing and then board your ship that takes you to Falklands-Malvinas, through the Beagle Channel. Then you're heading to your main destination - the South Shetland Islands, where you explore a unique and mesmerizing cluster of nature wonders.

Both Falklands and South Georgia offer incredible scenery and abundance of wildlife. The route and islands are a perfect setting for wildlife photography and bird watching. 

In case the weather makes some changes to our itinerary our team is ready for it. With a heated saltwater swimming pool, jacuzzis, gym, sauna, and wellness center you can not only forget about the rough seas outside but also relax and prepare for the upcoming onshore landing. 

Moreover, Sylvia Earle is equipped with numerous Zodiacs, simplifying the transition from ship to sea for various adventure activities, from kayaking and diving to climbing and ski touring.

Experience Boundless Adventures Aboard Small Ships

Ocean Tramp (Sailing Vessel)

Bigger ships are indeed designed for relaxation and luxurious holidays. Smaller ships, on the other hand, provide more landing opportunities at diverse points, with fewer queues, making them ideal for a more intimate, and authentic experience. 

Ocean Tramp, accommodating just 8 guests and 4 crew members, is a cozy but sturdy vessel designed for polar exploration. It offers you to join either a 14-day Sail In Antarctica - Fly The Drake cruise where you fly over the Drake Passage in both directions or if your heart is calling for a true adventure you can book the 19-day Sail Down / Fly Back option. 

With kayaking, camping, and a scientist onboard, it stands out for its intimate setting, giving you a feeling of an old-school expedition. Moreover, the vessel's small size ensures swift access to shores for extended landings and zodiac cruises, giving you more time to explore and document the picturesque scenery and wildlife. 

Due to Ocean Tramp's distinctive style and size the number of spots and dates is limited. So, if Antarctica has been calling your name but time and choppy seas keep playing spoilsport, it's our team to the rescue! Safe, speedy, and oh-so-rarely delayed, this route guarantees an epic Antarctic odyssey with the bonus of extra time on the icy continent. Adventure awaits – are you ready to take flight?

Exploration, Anyone?

In case you can’t make up your mind which ship or cruise to choose, our travel experts are at your service, ready to delve into the nuances of Antarctic flights and assist you in selecting the optimal route for your unforgettable journey. Below you can check a list of benefits of choosing a fly-cruise option. 

• Combines the efficiency of flying with the comfort of the cruise experience.
• Departing from Punta Arenas, Chile, these expeditions save approximately four days compared to traditional cruises, ideal for time-constrained individuals.
• Perfect for people who suffer from seasickness but don’t want to miss out on an exploration experience. 
• Depending on your mood or well-being you can stay on board without exposing yourself to cold.
• More staff and crew members to provide you with interesting Antarctica lectures, exploration tips, photo locations, and many more. 

However, the fly-cruise options come at a higher cost the benefits of extended exploration and minimized sea travel outweigh the expense for many adventurers. The enriched experience, coupled with avoiding the challenges of rough seas, makes the investment in fly-cruise ventures a worthwhile and rewarding choice for those seeking an efficient and immersive Antarctic adventure. 

Whether choosing to fly down & fly back or Sail down & fly back, each comes with its unique advantages and drawbacks. Consideration of individual preferences, time constraints, and budget will ensure a tailored and memorable journey to the captivating landscapes of Antarctica. 

Keep in mind, that the itinerary for all Antarctica cruises is subject to change based on weather, ice conditions, and wildlife opportunities. In case weather conditions are not favourable for landing or exploration our team of experts will make alterations accordingly. So don’t worry you’re in good hands!

Fast-Track to Antarctica


1. Are there scheduled flights to Antarctica?

No, there are no scheduled flights to Antarctica. Tourists can only access the continent through charter flights, which are part of a packaged experience and not available on a 'seat only' basis like regular scheduled flights.

2. How can I book a charter flight to Antarctica?

Charter flights are typically included as part of a package for Antarctic expeditions. You cannot book these flights separately; they are an integral part of the comprehensive Antarctic experience.

3. What is the Antarctic flying season, and are there regular flight schedules?

The Antarctic flying season occurs from December to February. Despite the absence of regular flight schedules, there is a good range of options available.

4. How do charter flights differ from boat-based cruises?

Charter flights provide a unique advantage by unlocking Antarctica's vast interior, including iconic locations like the South Pole. This stands in contrast to boat-based cruises, which are limited to exploring the coastline.

5. Is flying to Antarctica affected by weather conditions?

Yes, Antarctica's harsh and unpredictable weather poses a challenge for flying. The region's unique climate makes flights susceptible to potential delays. Travelers should be aware that the convenience of flying needs to be balanced with the higher risk of weather-related disruptions.

6. What are the risks associated with potential flight delays?

Due to Antarctica's challenging weather conditions, flight delays are possible. Travellers should consider the potential delays when planning their Antarctic expedition. We’ll be at your service to balance the expediency of flying with the awareness that weather conditions may impact the scheduled itinerary.

7. Can charter flights explore more than just the coastline?
Yes, charter flights offer the advantage of exploring not only Antarctica's coastline but also its vast interior, providing a comprehensive and unique perspective on this remote and pristine region.

9. What are the primary flight routes to Antarctica?

More than 98% of visitors fly from Punta Arenas to King George Island.

10. What are the average flight times for these routes?

A direct flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island takes approximately 2 hours. 

11. What types of planes are commonly used for Antarctic flights?

The BAE-146 is the predominant model, featuring four turbofan engines, and a capacity to seat 70 people in 3+3 seating.

12. What types of flight experiences are the best?

The most efficient and comfortable way of getting to Antarctica is the fly & cruise option 8 days (4 days in Antarctica).

13. What if my flight gets cancelled? 

Depending upon the weather conditions your flight might be cancelled. In this case, our expedition operators have contingency plans ready to roll. Accommodations, local eats, and even short tours will keep you entertained until you're back on track. And if the voyage is a no-go, refunds are provided.