Pre-travel currency options
- The official currency of Argentina is the Argentine Peso, however, it's common to use US dollars when travelling in the country, and most hotels and restaurants will accept them
- GBP and EUR are not easily accepted
- Major credit cards are widely accepted in the main tourist areas and cities, and ATM’s are prevalent
- You can access funds via 'casas de cambio' (money exchange booths) which you can use to exchange your money, as well as ATMs throughout all cities and major towns in Argentina.
The official currency of Chile is the Chilean Peso. In Chile, everything is official and you can simply pay for items or meals by card or withdraw cash from an ATM. Some hotels may exchange USD for pesos in an emergency, but we wouldn’t recommend that you rely on it.
Things to consider
- Travellers' cheques are not advised for either country as they are hard to change and are given a very low rate
- Your card provider will charge you at a higher rate for making payments or withdrawals while abroad, so it may be worth checking these tariffs before you leave
- To avoid any extra charges you could consider getting a card which you can preload credit onto
- ATMs are widely available in most major towns, but make sure you stock up before travelling to more remote areas
We think it is still a good idea to travel with some USD cash through Argentina, and it will be much easier to exchange them at an official rate now that the black market no longer exists.
Budgeting & Tipping
While in Argentina or Chile, a rough budget of $50-100 USD per person per day for lunch and dinner may be helpful. However, this will obviously depend on where you choose to eat.
Tipping in Argentina & Chile
Argentina, particularly, is a very tipping oriented country, like the US. Tips are expected, so keep a stock of small denomination notes handy. In Chile, tipping isn’t quite as prevalent, but it's very much appreciated (e.g. for taxi drivers) and is certainly expected in restaurants.
Tipping on board your ship
If you want to tip your guide if they've done a great job, a rule of thumb is $10-20 USD per person per day on board.
It's very much at your discretion, however, there are some great guides out there who are passionate, knowledgeable and really go the extra mile to make your trip as good as it can possibly be, and it's nice to reward them.
This is usually collected just prior to the end of the cruise and can be paid on a credit card. If you pay in cash, it’s very often an anonymous payment, by credit card anonymity is less easy.
While being fit isn’t a prerequisite to travelling to Antarctica as it's a ‘soft adventure’, being fit enough to get the most out of the daily excursions will increase your overall enjoyment of the trip. Being able to get on and off the rubber zodiac boats is crucial. For anyone concerned about this, there are always staff on hand to grab an arm and assist you.
Once onshore, walking distances tend to be quite short as Antarctica’s physical topography precludes longer walks. Most landings typically require walking for less than half a mile, although the actual ground can is typically uneven and can be challenging when icy, so a walking pole(s) can be very useful.
However, you can choose the degree of difficulty and if you wish you can simply remain on the shore, close to the boats contemplating the penguins going in and out of the water.