Unlocking the World

Travel to Antarctica during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN StaffUpdated 25th May 2022
Luckily the penguins have remained covid-free.
Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you're fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on May 25.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Antarctica, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Antarctica reported its first cases of Covid-19 in late December 2020. While scientists who observed strict quarantine rules sailed to the continent from the UK in November 2020, tourism remains relatively restricted.

What's on offer

A remote icy wilderness at the end of the world, trips to Antarctica have grown in popularity in recent years, with travelers sailing across the Drake Passage from South America to catch a glimpse of sprawling penguin colonies, breaching whales and rare seabirds.

Who can go

Because Antarctica is a scientific preserve, special teams have been able to restart research work on the continent from the end of 2020. While tourism isn't banned, the fact that most visitors can only arrive via ship means it's almost impossible to go right now, as many cruises are not running at this time.

What are the restrictions?

Antarctica's unique position as an internationally administered region means that it isn't subject to Covid restrictions. However, because tourists access the continent from Chile and Argentina, they are subject to the entry rules of those countries.
Entry to Chile is currently open to international travelers, as well as nationals. All visitors are required to fill in a Travelers Affidavit. While a negative PCR test or antigen test seven days is no longer required on arrival, travelers may be selected for mandatory random testing.
However, a negative PCR test is "recommended" for those visiting while Chile is under "Alert Level 1".
As of April 14, travelers are no longer required to apply for a Chilean "Pase de Movilidad" (Mobility pass) on the Chilean government's MeVacuno website to enter the country.
Non-resident foreign nationals must have travel insurance to cover the cost of Covid-related health care up to $30,000.
Argentina's borders are currently open to all travelers provided they fill an electronic 'sworn statement' form within 48 hours of their trip. Residents and nationals are exempt from this requirement.
While there are no vaccination requirements for travelers at present, those who are not vaccinated are recommended to take a Covid-19 test within 24 hours of arriving into the country.

US CDC travel advisory

Level unknown: Make sure you are up to date with your Covid-19 vaccines before traveling to Antarctica. If you are not up to date with your Covid-19 vaccines, avoid travel.

Useful links

Our latest coverage

CNN Travel answers some commonly asked questions about Antarctica, and looks at what the future may hold for the world's least understood continent. Back in May, the world's largest iceberg calved from Antarctica, while in February, an iceberg bigger than New York City broke off near a UK base in the continent. In December 2020, Antarctica became the final continent to be reached by the Covid-19 pandemic, when 36 people tested positive on a Chilean research base. Before that, CNN Travel had reported on what it's like to live on the continent virus-free, despite the pandemic.