If you’re considering an Antarctica adventure trip, you’ve likely already researched (or purposefully skipped over) the Drake Passage. You’ve heard tales of the stormy seas - and yet, you’re still intrigued. Here’s how you can make your White Continent dreams a reality (and even avoid the Drake Shake).

Where Is the Drake Passage? 

This renowned 800-kilometer stretch of rough water separates the tip of South America and the South Shetland islands of Antarctica - and is an epic rite of “passage” for all those bound for the White Continent.  

Why It’s a Big Deal

There’s no denying it. Crossing the Drake Passage is no walk in the park. It’s a microcosm of the rugged conditions and climate that one can expect upon arrival on the Antarctica Peninsula.

That said, seasickness-prone travelers need not fret - there are several options for getting across and not all include sailing both ways. Rest assured, no matter which way you cross it - fly, cruise, a combination of both - you’ll come home with an authentic and immersive polar experience. 

How Should I Cross the Drake Passage?

You’ll encounter two crossings to get to and from the Antarctica Peninsula. Depending on the weather, it is said you will either experience the Drake Shake or the Drake Lake (you can imagine the conditions these monikers imply). If your trip includes the Falkland Islands and/or South Georgia, you need to cross the Drake Passage only once (see the green arrows). If you are only going to the Antarctic Peninsula, you'll have to cross the passage both ways (see the red arrows)

If you choose to cruise the Drake, you’ll spend two days (each way) on the ship. This offers plenty of time for talking to naturalists, birdwatching, glimpsing possible wildlife, and taking part in presentations by glaciologists and penguinologists (did you know there was such a thing?). Your polar education will (hopefully) help take your mind and stomach off the churning waves (Drake Shake) around you and get you even more excited for what’s to come during your Antarctic voyage. 

If you choose to fly-cruise, you’ll save valuable time (all the better when trying to fit the typically long Antarctica travel experience into a limited vacation schedule). Fly over the roughest part, sail the other section. (You’ll have the added bonus of a fantastic aerial view of the region.) 

Or, fly both ways, optimizing your time in Antarctica. You can fly (for just two hours!) from Punta Arenas to Antarctica, where you’ll board your expedition ship - no stormy crossing required. Once you’re on the Peninsula, you’ll have access to all the same enriching polar activities as those who chose to sail the Drake Passage.

For those adrenaline-seeking passengers, read this first-hand account from Kyle Jordan on his G Adventures journey across the Drake Passage. While the sail across to Antarctica may not be for everyone (in which case, fly!), this honest account may just inspire you - we promise, it’s worth it! 

“The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. I felt like a wet dirty sock in the washing machine on a 36-hour spin cycle. I’ve never been one to fall ill to motion sickness, but this journey home would be a true test of that. Seventy-five percent of my fellow passengers were locked away in their respective cabins, just feet from the safety of their porcelain barf bag. I’d hug my bed - like a long-lost lover - at night, in hope I wouldn’t end up on the floor. Rather than walk and hold tight to the wall, I’d crawl on all fours to my desired destination. The idea of presenting myself with dignity was a thing of the past; this was about survival. It’s been more than six years since my epic battle with the Drake, one I’ll remember forever.”