Travel to Antarctica: Top tips from expert explorer Paul Rose

31 August 2021· Laura Nicholls

Having worked in one of the world’s harshest and remote regions for more than 25 years, British explorer Paul Rose has had his fair share of extreme travel. He has accompanied the likes of military vessels, luxury superyachts and scientific missions to Antarctica with the consistent ambition to make the trip a success.

Not only does he help scientists unlock and communicate global mysteries, but educates others through his career as an experienced television presenter and radio broadcaster. After his work as ex-Base Commander of Antarctica's Rothera Research Station that helped earned him The Queen's Polar Medal, Paul Rose has plenty of advice and knowledge to share and so, for those wanting to embark on an extreme expedition to the polar regions, Paul Rose is the man to help. Here he shares his top tips for anyone interested in doing just that:

Paul Rose

First, visit the IAATO website

I always tell people first and foremost to download and read as much information that they can from the IAATO website. What you can find there is suitable for expedition yachting of any kind and gives visitors advice on how to get a permit to enter the region, as the Antarctic treaty differs for each country. There are also permits and strict requirements that have to be arranged in advance, and companies such as EYOS are able to help organise that.

Become an informed traveller

Antarctica is a special place, people think so much about the technicalities of getting there that they seem to miss out on learning why it is such a remarkable place. Reading as much as possible before the trip will ensure the team can do some real planning. There is plenty of material on the region’s history, the various scientific elements of the area, current affairs and environmental factors. Everyone’s favourite part about Antarctica is different, some enjoy the polar history, birdlife or science. Really go for it and learn as much as you can!

Make sure the yacht is capable

There is a yacht checklist available on the IAATO website that everyone should take note of. But mostly, a successful trip is very much reliant on having a brilliant crew who are able to make a vessel work in challenging conditions. It’s not just about the boat and its quality, a trip will be made all the bit better if a qualified and experienced crew can help make the magic happen!

Prepare with a short practice run

One of the main things about Antarctica is that there is no capacity for help. Visitors will be extremely remote and have to operate completely independently. This can be hard to get used to, so embarking on a few passages in Arctic waters or cold conditions is useful, as it is a good way to learn how ice moves and get used to the conditions. In my experience, people who take the time to be clued up before visiting the Polar Regions are the ones who return feeling an amazing sense of achievement and tend to pass on their education.

Invest in some personal preparations

As explained, education and logistics are key parts of the journey, but so is being fit and having all the appropriate medical tests. It is important that people are in a good mental state to visit such a remote and challenging place – especially as it is such a large expense, having the correct equipment and preparations is important and worthwhile.

Make sure Smith Island is seen

When visitors first get down to the peninsular, the first thing they might see is Smith Island as it sticks out of the landscape regardless of the conditions – and I urge people to be on deck to witness this regardless of how they are feeling or the weather – it is amazing! The entire peninsular is beautiful, and so visitors needn’t be fixated on travelling as far as possible. Sure, there is a great sense of exploration in doing so, but there could be some amazing experiences that are missed because the journey is spent mostly at sea. A lot of beauty in the north, so my advice is to slow down and enjoy it, without any pressure.

Forget your accurate return time

By setting a period of time to return, plus or minus a few weeks, will avoid any unnecessary stress. There are so many factors that can affect a journey time. For example, when visitors arrive at their gateway, the weather might be different, something could snag with the yacht, and they are forced to wait for a better weather window. Private trips actually only access a tiny part of Antarctica because the ice is on the move, which means that yachts have to keep moving, and this can disrupt passengers sleep and itineraries.