Antarctica 2020 FAQ
Updated March 18, 2019
BOOKING AIR TRAVEL
What's the best way to get to Ushuaia, Argentina?
Flights can typically be bought 335 days in advance. From your home, you'll be flying to Buenos Aires (EZE Airport code), Argentina. You then have a choice of just two airlines, LATAM or Aerolineas Argentinas, to get from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Ushuaia (USH). Here are some things to keep in mind:
Arrive in Ushuaia (USH) before 3:00 PM on November 30, 2020. On your return, you can depart from Ushuaia (USH) anytime after 11:30 AM on December 11, 2020.
Many folks like to get to Ushuaia a day early, and this is a fine idea, there are tours and other activities to enjoy.
Or, it might be good idea to spend one night (or more) ahead of the trip in Buenos Aires. This helps with jetlag and breaks up the travel. If you do this, you will book your own hotel in Buenos Aires. We can recommend these hotels:
We recommend using Google Flights to research your flight options, and then purchase directly online from the airlines.
While it is possible to book flights all the way to Ushuaia on one ticket, you might find out that the best way to break it down like this: one round-trip ticket from your home to Buenos Aires and back, and a second round-trip ticket from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and back. This is for two reasons:
your preferred airline might not be partnered up with LATAM or Aerolineas Argentinas
there are two airports in Buenos Aires, AEP (the domestic airport) and EZE (the international airport). These airports are one hour by taxi apart (on a good day!). If you are flying straight through from your home to Ushuaia without staying overnight in BA, make sure you allow enough time to change airports if your flights require that. Taxis are readily available to transfer you between the airports.
Everyone likes non-stop flights, but don't ignore a one-stop flight from EZE-USH, if that means you don't need to switch airports. Even though that flight time is longer to USH, it's easier than switching airports in Buenos Aires.
Tickets can be purchased 335 days out, so that will be in January 2020. We recommend buying your air tickets sooner rather than later, to be sure to get the best routing, pricing, and seat selection.
Travel Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation Insurance are required.
Where is the Details and Information Document?
Here is the PDF. It's Version 1, dated March 18, 2020. Download it and save it. We will update this document throughout the year, and post new, dated versions here.
Are there other documents I should download before the expedition?
YES! Please download these two very important PDFs to your tablet, phone, or computer.
Antarctica Wildlife Field Guide. We will use this for our presentations on Antarctic wildlife.
Photographing Antarctica – Classroom Notes. We will use this in our classroom time for Wildlife Photography Techniques, The Art of Seeing, and Lightroom.
Anything special I need to do with my laptop to prepare for this expedition?
Before you leave home for the expedition, launch Lightroom (and Photoshop if you have it) and make sure it connects to Adobe over the internet. It's good to check for updates, as well. Be sure you don't have too many copies of Lightroom and Photoshop installed on different machines. Test Lightroom and Photoshop on your laptop with Wi-Fi turned off, to make sure it launches and works for you. It's a good time to make sure you have your laptop power supply and your card reader packed!
How do we deal with our gear in the zodiacs?
Try to be"light, nimble, and quick." Typically, carrying two cameras for our shore excursions is all you would need. One body with a short zoom (like a 24-70/24-105mm) and another body with your longer zoom (100-400, 80-400, 28-300, 70-200). Sure, maybe you want to put a wider angle lens in a pocket, just "in case”. Memory cards, spare batteries, lens cloth, and that's pretty much all you need. The zodiac rides are typically calm and very smooth, but you should be prepared for anything, because splashing can occur. For this reason, it's advisable to have your gear in a dry bag. Some will put their backpack into a dry bag (this is perfectly fine). But a really good choice is to have a small dry bag into which you will put your two cameras for the zodiac ride (something like a 20L or 30L dry bag). Here's an example of a small camera holster with body and 100-400 lens, and a second lens, and here's that holster in a dry bag.
How do I carry my gear when on land?
We recommend two camera bodies on sturdy camera straps, for the maximum flexibility. Or one body on a strap and your second body in a small satchel or small camera pack that holds your second body and a lens or two, plus small items. Sure, you can carry your backpack, no problem, but be careful about carrying too much, as you will find that you can get the majority of photos with just two zoom lenses. In addition, you will likely not want to put your camera pack down on the ground in too many places (watch out for penguin guano!).
Do I need my tripod?
While you can certainly use a tripod, it really isn't necessary. In fact, this is one of the places in the world where the tripod might cause you to miss a shot! Shooting handheld will be totally fine and doable, since the light levels are normally very high. We shoot handheld all the time with our 100-400 (or similar) zoom lenses. There are not many opportunities for long exposure, tripod-mounted photography. Again, being "light, nimble, and quick" is the order of the day. All this being said, we don't travel anywhere in the world without our tripods, so we'll have our small travel tripods along for this trip as well, it's just that we're not planning on using them much.
Are there luggage restrictions on LATAM? Aerolineas Argentinas?
NOTE: At this time, we're being told that tripods ARE NOT ALLOWED in the cabin on Aerolineas Argentinas flights. LATAM has said that tripods in the cabin are OK.
Tip for your camera gear carryon: If any airline is strict about weight limits for your camera backpack, no worries, use the trick of putting your heaviest camera and lens on a strap around your neck. Put a lens or two in your coat pockets if you have to. Once on the plane, you can reload into your backpack. This is a nuisance, but it works when airlines are weighing carryon. Also it helps immensely if you simply smile, and say that you have really expensive and fragile camera gear, and that it can't be checked.
WHAT IS THERE TO DO IN BUENOS AIRES?
If you have extra time in Buenos Aires
We can recommend this photo guide, he’s very experienced, and you will have a great time: Bernardo Galmarini.
Hotels and details for NoVEMBER 30–December 1, 2020
What is my hotel?
We have a block of rooms reserved in Ushuaia. We will be sending out information on how to book your hotel room in the spring of 2020. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time. But if you want to go ahead and book rooms now, you are free to book any hotel you like in Ushuaia.
I just landed in Ushuaia, how do I get to my hotel?
On November 30, 2020 there will be shuttle buses from “Rumbo Sur” that will take you to your hotel for a small, flat fee of approximately $10 USD. If you miss the shuttle, or if you arrive earlier than November 30, 2020, simply take a taxi for approximately $20 USD from the airport to town.
When and where do we meet the team on November 30, 2020?
You will stop by and pickup important departure and embarkation information and meet the team between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM at Albatros Hotel in Ushuaia. This is mandatory! Come and meet us, and while there you’ll enjoy drink and some snacks on us.
How does our big luggage get from the hotel to the ship?
When we see you on November 30, 2020 we will supply you with luggage tags that have your name and cabin number on them. Please put these on your big luggage and then bring your luggage Albatros Hotel Lobby by 9:30 AM on December 1, 2020. You will leave it there, and we will handle getting it to the ship. IMPORTANT: You will keep your camera bag and any small hand luggage with you, all the way to embarkation on to our ship. If you are out and about exploring Ushuaia during the day on December 2nd, you can leave your camera bags with the hotel bell staff.
***IF YOU ARE STAYING AT ANOTHER HOTEL*** you must bring your big luggage to the lobby of Albatros Hotel and put it with our group’s luggage. Do this by 9:30 AM on December 1, 2020.
When do we embark the Vavilov?
Embarkation begins at 4:00 PM on December 1, 2020. Meet at the Ushuaia Port security at 3:45 PM. The port is easy to find (and see from most anywhere in town). The main entrance is on Lasserre Street, across from Hotel Albatros. If you are at Hotel Albatros, you simply walk (2–3 minutes). For those staying at any other hotel further away from the port, you can grab a taxi. You must have your passport in your hand to get through security, and also for check-in on board Vavilov. When you check in, don't be alarmed, you will give your passport to the ship's staff, and they keep it for the duration of the expedition. Muench Workshops Staff will be at the port security and on board the ship, to assist with the embarkation process. Please do not try to embark Vavilov prior to 4:00 PM. Once you are on board, you are not able to disembark.
Something went wrong and I need to contact Muench Workshops in Ushuaia!
You can reach us by email ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or by using WhatsApp or a text or phone call to + 1 919 608-9068 (Juan Pons) or +1 917 854 8118 (Andy Williams). Or, you can ask the front desk Albatros Hotel to find one of us (Juan, Andy, or any of the other 8 Muench Pros). In the unlikely event that you are unable to reach any of us in Ushuaia, contact Zac Williams at +1 518-366-0571.
Remind me about what's included, and what's not included.
Included: Welcome drink and afternoon snack on November 30, 2020 at Albatros Hotel (between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM). All meals from Dinner on December 1, 2020 through breakfast on December 11, 2020. Lodging on board ship, use of expedition gear kit including waterproof jacket, pants, dry bag, binoculars, and walking stick, shore excursions, photographic instruction and guiding, all lectures and programs aboard ship and on land.
Not included: Passport and visa fees. Items of a personal nature. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. Tips for the ship's crew (recommended $15 per passenger per day). Ship to shore communication (ship's email, satellite phone). Airport Transfers. Hotel and meals in Ushuaia before or after the voyage. Anything not specifically listed as included.
onboard the Vavilov
I heard something about Biosecurity Protocols in Antarctica, can you explain?
What's it like on the ship?
You'll want comfy shoes for walking around the ship. Sneakers, boots, slip-ons, that's up to you! Most areas on the ship are open and available to you to explore. There are two large common areas for socializing, image editing, or simply relaxing. Here also you will find the ship's bar. NOTE: While you may bring your own alcohol on board Vavilov, you may not consume it anywhere on board ship except your cabin. There is a small souvenir shop as well. Purchases made on board are done with a "chit" system, and you can settle your account on the last day, with either cash (USD or Euro) or Visa/Mastercard (minimum of $100 USD in total charges). If you utilize the ship’s bar, the bartenders are tipped separately from the rest of the ship’s crew.
There are so many opportunities for photography from the ship as well. Don't forget the bridge, there's an open bridge policy, and the captain and crew are happy to have visitors, so long as they are not involved in any delicate navigation.
I like (candy bars, peanuts, my special snack)...can I bring it on board?
Sure! Feel free to bring any special things you like. We have arranged for plenty of salty and sweet snacks to be available in the main lounge every day. And there is always tea, coffee, and water at the bar (complimentary). And soft drinks, beer, wine, hard drinks can be purchased from the bar. You will also find there there are usually special treats at the bar, available after our landings.
What is the weather like?
Our expedition to Antarctica takes place during the Austral summer. Generally, temperatures in the Antarctic range between 20°F –40°F. Although it can be quite sunny, expect rain, snow, fog, and a high wind-chill factor. Wind and any precipitation can make it feel much colder. As we have mentioned in our details document, having and using the classic layering system is really important. You'll find that you might use one method of top layer when on the ship, and another for the shore excursions. There are boots on board for you to use for our shore excursions.
What about power and recharging batteries?
There are ample power outlets in your cabin for you to plug into, no problem. The outlets are standard European style plugs. Bring plug adapters.
Do I need to bring my own hairdryer? What about soap and shampoo?
All cabins are furnished with a hairdryer, and the bathrooms have soap and shampoo like most hotels.
What about my valuables on board?
Your cabin is not equipped with a safety deposit box. However, any valuables such as money, jewelery or documents could be deposited with the hotel manager who will store them safely for you.
What about tips for the ship's crew?
The customary gratuity to the ship’s service personnel is made as a blanket contribution at the end of the voyage and is divided among the crew. Tipping is a very personal matter and the amount you wish to give is at your discretion. As a generally accepted guideline, we suggest US $15 per person per day. Cash US Dollar or Euro, unfortunately credit cards cannot be accepted for tips.
What was that anti-seasickness medication again?
Talk to your doctor about the Transderm Scopalamine patch, and see if that's right for you. In addition, our ship's doctor has seasickness medication that is freely available on board the ship.
How do we get to the airport on December 11, 2020?
We'll have a bus transfer from the port, to the Ushuaia Airport on December 11, 2020, after disembarkation. Buses will leave from just outside the port after disembarkation. Otherwise, you can simply grab a taxi when you like, from anywhere in town.