Updated March 10, 2023
Booking air travel
What flights should I book?
Flights can typically be bought 335 days in advance. From your home, you’ll be flying to Santiago, Chile (SCL Airport code), and returning from Ushuaia, Argentina (USH). To get to the Falklands from Santiago, you will fly a specific flight on LATAM Airlines from Santiago to Port Stanley (PSY Airport code). We have arranged the booking on this flight, and we will bill you for the flight and provide you with booking arrangements before departure. You will fly home from Ushuaia, Argentina. Your return flight from Ushuaia can be booked anytime after 11:00 AM on December 8, 2023.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Arrive in Santiago, Chile (SCL) anytime on November 16, 2023. We will make hotel arrangements for you at Holiday Inn Santiago – Airport Terminal.
- You are free to explore Santiago on November 17, 2023. We will meet as a group at 4:00 PM for a mandatory expedition orientation on this day.
- We will fly as a group from Santiago, Chile, to Port Stanley, Falklands, on November 18, 2023. We will arrange the transfer from the hotel to the airport.
- At the end of the expedition, we will disembark our ship in Ushuaia, Argentina, at approximately 8:00 AM on December 8, 2023. Flights home from Ushuaia (USH) can be arranged for any time after 11:00 AM on this day.
- While booking flights all the way home from Ushuaia on one ticket is possible, you might find out that the best way to break it down is like this: one ticket from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires and another from Buenos Aires to your home airport. This is for two reasons:
- Your preferred airline might not be partnered up with Aerolineas Argentinas.
- There are two airports in Buenos Aires, AEP (domestic) and EZE (international). The transfer between these two airports typically takes an hour and a half but can be much longer with traffic. If you are flying straight home from Ushuaia without staying overnight in Buenos Aires, allow enough time to clear customs and change airports if your flights require that. Taxis are readily available to transfer you between the airports. You can also pre-arrange a reliable and safe transfer with Go Airport Taxi.
- Or, you may want to spend a night in Buenos Aires to explore before you head home. If you do this, you will book your own hotel in Buenos Aires. We can recommend these hotels:
- Be Hollywood Hotel this is near AEP Airport
- BUE Hotel this is near AEP Airport
- Let Sun Boutique Hotel this is near AEP Airport
- Plaza Central this is near EZE Airport
- Holiday Inn at EZE this is near EZE Airport
- We recommend using Google Flights to research your flight options and purchase directly online from the airlines.
Travel Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation Insurance are required.
You can get both from our preferred and trusted provider, Ripcord. You may also use another provider if you wish. And here’s a blog post that explains the differences between these types of insurance.
We will update this document with the latest COVID-19 protocols as they become available.
Where is the Details and Information Document?
We will have an information PDF for you, and when it’s ready, we will post it here.
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. Then log out of Adobe Creative Cloud and log back in. Be sure you don’t have too many copies of Lightroom and Photoshop activated on different machines. Test Lightroom and Photoshop on your laptop with Wi-Fi turned off to ensure it launches and works for you. It’s a good time to ensure you have packed your laptop power supply and card reader!
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 a longer zoom (100-400, 200-500, 80-400, 28-300, 70-200). Maybe you want to put a wider-angle lens in a pocket, just “in case.” Memory cards, spare batteries, and lens cloth are pretty much all you need. The zodiac rides are typically calm and very smooth, but you should be prepared for anything because splashing sometimes occurs. For this reason, having your gear in a dry bag is critical to protect against seawater. Some will put their backpack into a dry bag (this is perfectly fine). But a 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 a body and 100-400 lens, and a second lens, and here’s that holster in a dry bag. Here’s another solution, a dry bag backpack.
How do I carry my gear when on land?
We recommend two camera bodies on sturdy camera straps for maximum flexibility. Or you could carry one body on a strap and your second body in a small satchel or camera pack with a lens or two, plus small items. Sure, you can carry your backpack, no problem, but be careful about bringing too much, as you will find that you can get the majority of photos with just two zoom lenses. In addition, there are restrictions to prevent the spread of avian diseases that limit where you can and cannot put your pack on the ground.
Do I need my tripod?
While you can certainly use a tripod, it generally isn’t necessary. 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 typically very high. We shoot handheld with our 100-400 (or similar) zoom lenses. There are not many opportunities for long exposure, tripod-mounted photography. Also, vibrations from the ship’s engines prevent tripod use when onboard the ship. 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––we’re not planning on using them much. If you need additional support for your larger lens, consider a monopod as a more portable and flexible option.
Should I worry about condensation inside my camera and lenses?
While temperatures can be cold, the relative humidity is low, and we have not had issues with condensation inside our cameras and lenses on this expedition.
Are there luggage restrictions on LATAM and Aerolineas Argentinas?
It depends on the type of ticket you purchased. But like all airlines, you can pay a fee if your luggage is overweight. Read the current luggage policies for Aerolineas Argentinas and LATAM.
On recent expeditions, tripods were not allowed in the cabin on Aerolineas Argentinas flights, but enforcement of this rule is inconsistent.
Here is a tip for camera gear in your carry-on luggage. If any airline is strict about weight limits for your camera backpack (Aerolineas Argentinas sometimes weighs carry-on luggage), 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 carry-on. Also, it helps immensely if you smile and say that you have expensive and fragile camera gear, computer equipment, and lithium batteries that can’t be checked.
Can I bring my drone?
Unfortunately, drones are strictly prohibited in Antarctica and South Georgia by IAATO guidelines. Leave your drone at home.
Hotel and details for November 16, 2023 (and earlier nights if applicable)
I just landed in Santiago. How do I get to my hotel?
On arrival in Santiago, you can walk to the hotel. It’s directly across from baggage claim.
When and where do we meet the team on November 17, 2023?
You will stop by and pick up important departure and embarkation information and meet the team at 4:00 PM on November 17, 2023, at the Holiday Inn Santiago – Airport Terminal in Santiago. This is mandatory! Come and meet us and enjoy a drink and snacks. Specific details on where to meet will be provided in early November.
How do we get Port Stanley?
We will fly as a group on November 18, 2023, from Santiago to Port Stanley. Once we arrive in Port Stanley, we’ll be transferred to our ship, the Polar Pioneer, for embarkation. We will arrange transportation from the hotel in Santiago to the airport and from Port Stanley airport to our ship.
Something went wrong, and I need to contact Muench Workshops!
You can reach us by email ([email protected]) or call us at +1 (866) 745-7300. (Yes, this will work from Chile and Argentina).
Remind me about what’s included, and what’s not included.
Included: Welcome drink and snacks on November 17, 2023, at 4:00 PM. All meals from dinner on November 18, 2023, through breakfast on December 8, 2023. Lodging on board ship, 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 Santiago or Ushuaia before or after the voyage. Anything not explicitly listed as included.
Onboard the Polar Pioneer
Emergency Contact # for the Polar Pioneer
FOR TRUE EMERGENCY USE ONLY, there is a satellite phone for the ship. We will provide contact details at a later date. In case of emergencies, you should also provide the contact information for Muench Workshops to folks back home: email ([email protected]) or call us at +1 (866) 745-7300.
I heard something about biosecurity protocols in Antarctica and South Georgia. Can you explain?
Yes. Please read this short PDF, so you are well prepared. We strictly follow all biosecurity protocols to protect the pristine environment and wildlife in South Georgia and Antarctica. Here is a short video on responsible tourism in Antarctica.
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 large common areas for socializing, image editing, or simply relaxing. You will find a ship’s bar. NOTE: You may not bring your own alcohol aboard the Polar Pioneer. Drinks can be purchased at the ship’s bar. Purchases on board are made with a “chit” system, and you can settle your account on the last day with Visa/Mastercard.
There are many opportunities for photography from the ship as well. Some of the best landscape photos are taken from the ship’s deck.
I like (candy bars, peanuts, my special snack). Can I bring it on board?
Sure! Feel free to bring any special things you like. Food and snacks are plentiful on the ship, and tea, coffee, and water are always available at the bar (complimentary). Soft drinks, beer, wine, and hard drinks can be purchased from the bar. You will also find snacks during afternoon teatime at the bar. As a reminder, you may not bring any food or drinks to shore in Antarctica or South Georgia other than water.
What is the weather like?
Our expedition to Antarctica takes place during the Austral summer. Generally, temperatures in the Antarctic range between 20°F and 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. Using the classic layering system is essential. You’ll find that you might use one method of a top layer when on the ship and another for shore excursions. When it is sunny, sunglasses and sunscreen are critical for your protection.
All of our zodiac excursions require rubber boots. There are boots on board for use on shore excursions. These are knee-high waterproof boots. You will want to wear two pairs of warm socks inside them.
What about power and recharging batteries?
There are ample power outlets in your cabin for you to plug into, no problem. The power outlets are European two-pin type plugs (Type C). We recommend bringing plug adapters for the ship and your hotels in Chile (Type C) and Argentina (Type I and Type C).
I can’t live without the internet. What’s that like onboard the ship?
There is satellite-based internet onboard, and there is a cost to use it that we will publish before the expedition. But because the internet connection uses satellites, and because we’re at the bottom of the world, it is extremely slow and unreliable, so plan on this. Due to the high latitudes and positioning relative to mountains, there are dead spots where the internet will not work. Your internet use should be constrained to simple messaging and email. Large downloads and video streaming are not possible. If regular communication with home is important to you, we suggest a Garmin inReach.
Do I need to bring my hairdryer? What about soap and shampoo?
All cabins are furnished with soap and shampoo, like most hotels. Hairdryers are available upon request.
Is laundry service available?
Laundry service is available, for a fee, on the ship.
What about my valuables on board?
Any valuables such as money, jewelry, or documents could be deposited with the hotel manager, who will store them safely for you. Muench Workshops and our ship company are not responsible for the loss of personal effects and valuables.
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 voyage’s end and divided among the crew. The ship will guide you on splitting tips between the hotel staff and the expedition 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. A tip box will be provided on the last day of the expedition. Tips must be made with cash (USD).
What was that anti-seasickness medication again?
If you are prone to seasickness, talk to your doctor about the transdermal Scopolamine patch, and see if that’s right for you. In addition, our ship’s doctor has seasickness medication that is freely available onboard the ship. The key to preventing seasickness is to take these medications before rough seas.
How do we get to the airport on December 8th?
After disembarkation, we’ll have a bus transfer from the port to the Ushuaia Airport on December 8, 2023. Buses will leave from outside the port at a time TBD after disembarkation. We will also offer temporary luggage storage while waiting for your trip to the airport. Otherwise, you can grab a taxi, when you like, from anywhere in town. The trip to the airport in Ushuaia is short.