12 Top Tips for Travel to Ushuaia and Antarctica
1. Buenos Aires has two airports: Ezeiza or EZE (sometimes called Pistarini) is the international and lies over 30 km from the city centre. Jorge Newberry Airport, AEP or Aeroparque is only seven km from the city and is used for most (but not all) domestic flights. If you are transferring between airports it’s a 40 km ride and can take well over an hour if there’s traffic.
2. Immigration procedures for foreigners coming into Argentina can be slow and you can be in line for up to an hour. Don’t arrange tight connecting flights.
3. There’s no charge for Argentinean tourist visas. But if you are Australian, Canadian or a US citizen, you’ll be charged a “reciprocity fee” closely equivalent to what those countries charge Argentineans. The fees and rules change frequently but last year it cost $US75 for Canadians for a single entry, $US100 for a year of entries for Australians and $US160 for 10 years for Americans. The fees generally aren’t charged if you arrive overland (though Chile has similar fees) or into airports outside BA.
4. It’s most convenient to arrange transfers from the airport to your hotel in advance. There are competing agencies at the airport that will book you a car. It’s suggested that both ways you should book through the hotel or the airport office as the many touts may offer unlicensed taxis with significant risks.
5. When exploring BA just carry some cash, a driver’s licence and a credit card rather than a wallet. If something is squirted on your shoes or you are jostled in a crowd, hang onto your valuables and don’t stop.
6. With prevailing westerlies a seat on the right hand (starboard) side of the plane will probably give you the best first views of Ushuaia.
7. You need your baggage tags to exit security in Ushuaia (USH). The airport is about six km from the town
8. There are often changes to the times of flights within Argentina so don’t be surprised if this happens to you. And flights to and from USH are very heavily booked over summer. So are the hotels.
9. If you are using your home mobile phone in Argentina, good luck sorting out the number to call, with and without area codes. And expect to pay the highest roaming rates to both send and receive.
10. The great majority of shops and restaurants in Ushuaia are on San Martin that is a one-way street towards the east.
11. Make sure your Antarctic cruise company knows where you are staying in Ushuaia so they can contact you if the ship is delayed or boarding procedures are changed. (It’s a very good idea to arrive in Ushuaia at least the day before you sail.) Have a local contact number for its Ushuaia agent, too, so you can contact them if you have queries or difficulties.
12. Your ship will have docked that morning, discharged passengers and will be frantically cleaned and provisioned over the few hours of port day. The dock is closed anyway (by port security) and few crew members will have a moment spare if you do arrive on board before the scheduled afternoon boarding time.
About the author: David McGonigal has been to Antarctica over 100 times as Expedition Leader, expert lecturer and expedition photographer. He left Antarctica last February and will be back there again this November.