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Crossing the Drake Passage: Everything You Need to Know

by Tykesha77
Crossing the Drake Passage, a travel guide by Momma Wanderlust

 So, you’re thinking of crossing the Drake Passage, huh? Well, you have certainly come to the right place! First things first, what is the Drake Passage? It’s the body of water that stretches between the southernmost tip of South America and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.

In short, it is the quickest way to get to Antarctica by water…and it is known for boasting some of the roughest sailing waters in the world. So, what is sailing the Drake Passage really like? Is it as bad as you think?

We were lucky enough to visit Antarctica not too long ago and we crossed the Drake Passage to get there. Therefore, I am here to give you a first-hand account of everything you need to know about crossing the Drake Passage. Stay tuned!

How Long Does it Take To Cross the Drake Passage?

It takes about two days —a whopping 48 hours— to cross the Drake Passage via boat. However, you could always cross the passage via plane, which can be achieved in less than two hours. But then again, where’s the fun in that?

The Drake Shake vs. the Drake Lake

If you’re wondering which one you might experience, the honest answer is that there’s no way to know if you’re going to get the Drake Shake or the Drake Lake. For those of you wondering, the Drake Lake refers to smooth sailing through the passage, while the Drake Shake means getting a choppy ride with swells up to 26 feet high.

It is rumored that 1 in 4 crossings will experience rocky seas. I would recommend hoping for the best and bracing yourself for the worst. When my family crossed the Drake Passage, we experienced the Drake Shake. This was largely due to our cabin being all the way at the bottom of the ship, so we experienced the brunt of it.

During my Drake Shake experience, I got a little sea sick and wasn’t able to eat on the voyages to and from Antarctica. Was it the most pleasant experience on earth? Not really. Was traveling to Antarctica still 100% worth it? You bet.

Tips for Seasickness:

If you’re worried about the ominous Drake Shake and its associated seasickness, don’t worry. You are certainly not alone, and there are a few tips that will help you cope:

  • Pick a center cabin. If possible, opt for a lower cabin that is in the center of the ship. This ensures you will experience the least amount of shake as possible.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can worsen the effects of nausea, so make sure to bring electrolyte-rich drinks with you and stay hydrated at all times.
  • Use sea bands. Sea bands apply pressure to your pressure points, which can be super helpful for relieving nausea.
  • Invest in medication. Scopolamine Patches and Dramamine pills are both great for relieving the symptoms of seasickness. Especially if you aren’t sure how your body is going to react to the ride, I recommend stocking up.

If you’re thinking about sailing across the Drake Passage, I would say go for it. Whether you experience the Drake Shake or the Drake Lake, you are in for the trip of a lifetime, guaranteed. Just pack some Dramamine and prepare yourself for excitement!

As with anything else, it’s important to do your research before committing to an experience. If you’ve read this far, you’re doing great already! Keep these tips for crossing the Drake Passage in mind and you will be experiencing one of the world’s greatest wonders in no time. (And trust me, it will be beyond worth it.)

If you found this post on Crossing the Drake Passage helpful, you might also like:

Visiting Antarctica: a 12-Day Itinerary

8 Common Myths About Traveling to Antarctica

The Ultimate Travel Bucket List

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