Patagonia and Antartica

Old Sep 21st, 2005, 02:01 AM
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Patagonia and Antartica

I am considering whether to spend a whole month in Patagonia or split between Patagonia and Antartica. For those who have been to both, what are your views? Is Antartica a "must do"? Thanks a lot.
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Old Sep 21st, 2005, 11:45 AM
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Antartica must be awesome but not many do it because it requires a lot of time in itself. It is not a day trip not even a week trip, It's a long one.
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Old Sep 21st, 2005, 12:23 PM
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I've done both. In 2004 I spent 3 weeks in Patagonia backpacking the national parks, and in 2005 I split my time - a week backpacking in Patagonia and doing an 11-day trip to Antarctica.

Is Antarctica a "must do"? Well, it's on my life list, so for me, it was. It was spectacular trip with some truly great moments. Here's an example...

Our first zodiac cruise in Antarctica was around the Melchior Islands. We had just finished crossing the Drake Passage and arrived in the Antarctic Peninsula in the evening. The expedition leader wanted to get us out on the water just to get us some experience on the small boats. So, we took off around 10 p.m., just as the sun was setting. There was a full moon. We cruised around the ice bergs and the various islands observing penguins and seals. One of the zodiacs spotted some humpback whales, so we took off to follow them. We stopped at a short distance to the whales, and they began to approach us. One came within ten feet, dove under the zodiac and emerged 10 feet away on the other side. After an hour or so of this, we ran back to the ship. I'll never forget the experience of speeding along in the zodiacs, under the light of a full moon amongst ice and snow covered islands in the Antarctic. I saw our ship moored between two small islands with the moon high above, and could see the other zodiacs to either side with their bows lifted in the air, flying home. The wind was cold and biting. It was sublime. Afterwards, we all sat around the ship's lounge drinking mugs of hot chocolate and grinning.

There were many moments like this on the trip, so I definitely recommend it.

Patagonia was also on my life list, and it lived up to my expectations, which is why I went twice.

I guess the first thing to do is determine whether you want to do Antarctica. Figure on a 10-day trip at a minimum. Eleven days is better. One thing to consider is that it takes 4 days to cross the Drake Passage - 2 days there and 2 days back. So, that's time spent bouncing around in your cabin and not in Antarctica itself. So, you want to maximize your time in the Antarctic Peninsula itself. Also, you'll need to book early for the cheapest rates - like a year or so in advance. Rates for a quad share cabin can be had for as little as $2500US pp (Gap). I had a double share cabin for $3750US pp during high season. (Quark Expeditions)

If you've decided on Antarctica, then whatever time is left over can be devoted to Patagonia. You should have about 2 weeks, which is enough time to do both Torres del Paine in Chile and Parque Nacional Los Glaciares in Argentina.

I'd suggest flying to Buenos Aires, spend a day seeing the city, then flying onward to El Calafate. Take the day tour out to Perito Moreno Glaciar. Next, head to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, and do dayhikes in the park from the small town of El Chalten for a few days. Head back to El Calafate for a night, and then catch a bus over the border to Puerto Natales. From Puerto Natales launch a trip into Torres del Paine - maybe 5-6 days backpacking the W route - either carrying your own gear or staying in the refugios. Afterwards, catch a bus back to El Calafate from Puerto Natales and catch a flight to Ushuaia where you can begin your Antarctica cruise.

Logistics should be easy to handle. Bus travel is cheap and convenient. And, connecting to Ushuaia shouldn't be a problem.

The cruise operators usually offer add on extensions for Torres del Paine, but they're quite a bit more expensive than doing it independently.

Here are some links:

Quark Expeditions. These are the guys I used for Antarctica - book the ships through an agent, like REI,, etc...

Trip Report Patagonia. This is a trip report I wrote up for Patagonia.

Pictures. These are pics of Patagonia and Antarctica I took on my trips.
lifelist is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 02:51 AM
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Thanks very much for the reply, but.....I wish I have not read it. I almost want to drop Antartica, looking for someone to tell me that Antartica is not as good as most people think and not worthwhile etc.

But I kind of make up my mind to include Antartica. Don't want to regret after that (I live in Asia, not easy for me go to S America with 30+hours of flight). Indeed I have two months' time and I will drop other places now.

Thanks also for the trip report, it is even more useful than my Footprint guide.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2005, 06:05 AM
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Lifelist -- what a fabulous description of your first Antarctic evening. My husband and I are doing a 10 day cruise on the Polar Star in February and we are so looking forward to it, also to our week in Buenos Aires and a 2 night trip to Iguazu Falls. For llee_2003, lifelist is absolutely right about booking ahead for the cruise. We had to book just about 1 year ahead to get the type of ship (less than 100 people) and cabin that we wanted. Even then, the longer trip that we had thought about was already sold out! Our travel agent (Chuck with Expedition Cruises) highly recommended a small ship, so we will be able to do all of the Zodiac landings.
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