Visas: There is no visa requirement for Antarctica. Bring your passport however, due to shipping schedules and unpredictable weather, it is often necessary to pull into foreign ports. You will also need visas for any countries that your vessel visits en route to Antarctica. Check with your tour operator to find out what countries you may visit.
Passport: Passports are required and must be valid for at least six months beyond your departure date. Check to see that you have sufficient space for entry/exit stamps and secure additional pages if necessary. If you need a passport apply for it early. Carry a photocopy of your passports front page for identification and to change travelers checks as the passport itself should be kept aboard ship or in the hotel safe. Note that this photocopy will also facilitate replacement should your passport be lost.
Health risks: Hypothermia, sunburn, dehydration, frostbite and snow blindness. Some pre-trip, first-aid reading (with an outdoors or wilderness medicine focus) will help you to identify and avoid the factors that lead to these conditions.
Inoculations:As of this writing, no vaccinations are required for entry into Antarctica - and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has issued no advisories. In general, be aware of the usual discomforts of travel - change of diet, sunburn, dehydration and motion sickness. If you are visiting certain parts of Asia, Africa or South America prior to joining an expedition, you may be visiting areas infected with yellow fever, in which case you will need a yellow fever inoculation. Please consult the Public Health Service nearest you or call the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA at: 404-332-4559.
Combating Sea Sickness: Anticipate some rough water on the voyage. Should you be prone to motion or sea sickness, please consult with your physician on which medication is appropriate and its side effects. You would be wise to try out the dosage first on dry land.
To avert motion sickness, avoid alcohol, tobacco, excess liquids, and confined spaces.Most people feel better sitting on deck looking at the horizon or prone with eyes shut. Oddly, you will feel better with some food, such as crackers or dry toast in your stomach. Many people eat to avoid feeling sick. Remember, once you start to experience motion sickness, medications are of little help.
Time: During the tourist season, there is about 20 hours of light, making wearing a watch almost unnecessary. When visiting most bases, clocks are set in accordance with their home countries.
Electricity: Each ship and each base has its own independent electricity supply, but many of the ships are Russian with a 220V/50 Hz output into a standard European two-pin socket.
What to Do
: For the most part, Antarctic tourists come to walk around, look at the scientific bases, take photographs and journey out on zodiacs to the region's spectacular sights and to view the abundant wildlife. Increasingly, however, tour operators are offering more for the outdoorsy types, whoâ€™ve skied, climbed, camped and trekked everywhere else and want a new challenge. Tours of this type are guided however the tour companies do not supply gear and people wishing to camp ashore must bring their own sleeping bags and foam mats, and climbers must supply their own crampons, ice axes and harnesses.
For the first time, scuba diving, including night diving, is being offered to tourists who have suitable qualifications. No decompression diving is undertaken - the dives are less than 39m (128ft). All divers must have at least 100 logged dives and be certified as a PADI Rescue Diver or higher (equivalent qualifications are accepted). Divers must bring all their own equipment.
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