Why this might be the best year ever to visit Antarctica

Jun 17, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

If you’ve been dreaming of a trip to Antarctica, this might be the year to make it happen.

There’s a narrow six-month window each year when you can visit Antarctica, and this December the stars (and sun and moon) are aligning so you can also view a total solar eclipse during your trip — and it’s not too late to book this journey of a lifetime. If you’ve been hoping to see a total solar eclipse, it’s your last chance until April of 2024.

Want more from TPG? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Commercial voyages can only reach Antarctica from late October to March when the sea ice opens up enough to allow ships through. And it’s a lengthy journey: Short trips start around eight days and some can extend to three weeks.

Tourists have become increasingly interested in the southern continent, and there are now a number of tours that vary in price and duration, though even the least expensive itineraries will run you several thousands of dollars. Cruise lines and tour operators such as Silversea, Viking, Quark Expeditions, Seabourn, Intrepid and Abercrombie & Kent all lead Antarctica expeditions.

There are even travel providers with itineraries dedicated to seeing the solar eclipse this year.

Even the best tour company, however, can’t guarantee you’ll have clear skies. Poor conditions can obviously affect your ability to see the eclipse, and Antarctica is known for its unpredictable weather.

According to NASA, a total solar eclipse is predicted for Dec. 4, 2021, and Antarctica may be the only place on Earth you’ll be able to get a complete view of the eclipse this time around. The view will be best the closer you are to the so-called path of totality.

Total Solar Eclipse (Image by SA Expeditions/Nick Dall)

After the eclipse in December, the next time a total solar eclipse isn’t expected until April 8, 2024. That one, however, won’t require a trip across the globe. Instead, it’s set to carve a path through Mexico, the central U.S. and eastern Canada.

But if 2024 is too far away and you have Antarctica on your travel list, you might want to consider seeing one of nature’s happiest accidents this December.

Of course, COVID-19 could still pose a challenge for travelers looking to visit Antarctica this year. Right now, tourism isn’t banned from the continent, but there are only a few avenues to get to Antarctica, and you’ll have to follow the rules of entry for those countries.

Related: You can now cruise from the Arctic to Antarctica on this over-the-top new voyage

Most Antarctica voyages depart from Ushuaia, Argentina, or Punta Arenas, Chile. Both countries are closed to tourists at this time, but the situation could change in time for the solar eclipse sailings.

Even if you don’t see a perfect total solar eclipse, you’ll still get to experience Arctic waters, pristine glaciers and penguins. Not a bad deal, right?

Featured image by Jo Crebbin/Shutterstock. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.