Retrace the footsteps of early explorer, Ernest Shackleton on his Trans-Antarctic Expedition – one of the greatest survival stories of all time.
Travelling to Antarctica is easier these days, but you'll still be in awe of how Shackleton's crew survived on this unforgiving island for months after being shipwrecked. After crossing the mighty Drake Passage on the Ocean Endeavour (a big achievement in itself!), drop anchor and admire the island's dramatic peaks and the blue hues of Endurance Glacier popping against the snow. If the conditions are good, you'll jump in a Zodiac and make a landing at Point Wild to uncover the crew's survival secrets and meet the seal and penguin residents before continuing your adventure along the ice-strewn Antarctic Peninsula. An Elephant Island cruise is the stuff of polar legends.
Our Elephant Island cruises & tours
Highlights of Elephant Island
Elephant Island tour reviews
Elephant Island FAQs
Trips on or before 31 December 2022
If your Intrepid trip starts on or before 31 December 2022, you must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.
If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional.
Children under 18 are exempt. Children aged between 5 and 17 years old must provide proof of either vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
Due to its extremely remote location there’s only one way to get to Elephant Island and that’s on a polar vessel like the Ocean Endeavour. Ships like this are specially designed to navigate the conditions as you cross the Drake Passage. Most Elephant Island cruises depart from Ushuaia in Argentina and the journey takes roughly seven or eight days depending on your itinerary and the number of stops along the way.
The weather on Elephant Island is cold and unforgiving for most of the year and the sea surrounding the island is closed with ice which makes it inaccessible between April to November. Cold, cloudy and windy conditions prevail even in the warmest months (January and February) with the average daytime temperature lingering at just 36F (2.2C). Average winter temperatures in the coldest months (June and July) plummet to -10C (14F).
The best time to visit Elephant Island – or anywhere in Antarctica – is during the summer months in January and February. This is when the sea ice melts enough to allow access for polar ships. Generally, you can’t travel to Elephant Island in winter as the weather conditions are too treacherous to travel to the island safely. Even in the hottest months most of the island is still covered in snow.
If you’re travelling to Elephant Island for the wildlife, then the best time to go really depends on what you’d like to see. Southern elephant seals frequent the shores of the island and you have a good chance of seeing large numbers of them in November – the end of the breeding season. The island is also home to a colony of chinstrap penguins and migratory gentoos. Breeding and egg hatching season runs from November/December until March, so if you want to see gorgeous fluffy chicks, this is the time to do it.
Antarctica is one of the most isolated and unpredictable places in the world. It’s super important to pack everything you’ll need for your trip as buying supplies there isn’t an option. Some of the essentials you’ll need to bring include:
- warm base layers – and lots of them
- pair of waterproof and windproof pants
- waterproof and windproof jacket (you might be provided with this on your tour)
- well-fitted beanie
- warm gloves
- sun protection – yes, you can still get burnt in Antarctica!
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have.
Unfortunately there is no wheelchair access on our polar vessels. Some ships have lifts but these may not access all decks on the ship. There are often stairways, and passengers need to be mobile enough to keep themselves steady and be able to get around reasonably without being assisted. We can help you to further clarify whether the trip you’re interested in is right for you.
However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
See Antarctica from the sky
Not a big fan of boats? Or maybe your idea of an unforgettable Antarctica adventure involves gazing at icebergs and ancient glaciers from the sky? If so, why not take a sightseeing flight over the region's majestic land, sea and icescapes. Departing from several locations in Australia, this once-in-a-lifetime experience is definitely one to cross off the bucket list.