Antarctica is a beautiful place that nearly 30,000 people visit each year. Of those, only about 20,000 people set foot on the continent, and of those, only a few dare CAMP on it. Camping in Antarctica is no comfortable task, but it is not only for the most experienced camper. If you are offered the chance, people who have done it say don’t even hesitate (don’t walk, RUN).
Camping in Antarctica is a great way to become one with nature, see the stars in the most open and darkest climate possible, get amazing photos, and have the experience of a life time. Find your Antarctica camping experience today!
The Basics And What To Expect
Most camping expeditions are included as an extra activity that you can choose to do while on an excursion to Antarctica. Here is what to expect from right before you get onto the zodiac to going back to the ship by zodiac.
Because you are not able to pack food onto the continent, your camping trip is a short lived one. This being said, you typically will leave right after having a large dinner on the ship. After dinner, you will most likely receive a safety briefing and quick how-to on the use of the equipment.
After this, you will board onto the zodiac and make your way to the snowy continent. After a relatively short ride, you will touch down and start unloading your gear. Depending on the expedition you chose and the climate for the night, you may or may not have tents. If it is relatively warm, you may be using only bivvy sacks that allow you to look at the stars and take in the scenery at night time.
To set up, you may have to level out the ground beneath you, then you will place your thermal pad down, then the tent or bivvy sack, and then you’re mostly set. After this, you will have some time to explore and take in the surroundings, maybe snag a few photos, and possibly even take in a beautiful sunset.
Soon enough it will be time to take off your boots and crawl into your tent or bivvy sack. If you packed the right warm gear you should be pretty comfortable. Sleep isn’t really the priority while camping in Antarctica however, most don’t sleep at all! Now is the time to take in the beautiful scenery around you and maybe even snap some night photography.
If you did end up getting some sleep, you will be woken up very early in the morning to start packing up camp. Once it’s all packed, a guide will scan over the site and make sure that no contaminants to the environment were left behind. Once the scan is clear, you will load back onto the zodiac and head back to the ship for breakfast.
Do You Need Expert Level Camping Experience?
Not at all! All camping trips have guides that will help you along the way. The only thing you need to worry about is bringing gear that can withstand the elements. The only requirement is that you are above the age of 18. There is no harm in trying as well, most excursions give you the option to leave once you are there if you are extremely uncomfortable or if there is some sort of emergency. The only thing to keep in mind is that you are not allowed to come back once you decide to leave.
When Can You Camp In Antarctica?
The best time to camp in Antarctica is in the summer months for two reasons, the warmer climate and the amount of light that you have during the day. The seasons are different in Antarctica than the rest of the world, and each month provides a different experience.
What You Need To Prepare:
Most expeditions that offer an overnight camping experience will provide any crucial equipment such as sleeping bags and bivvy sacks, tents, thermal pads, certain snow gear, and waste buckets, but you will most likely be responsible for anything else that you will need such as water bottles, warm clothing, shoes, etc.
You will need:
- Snow pants
- Thermal pants
- Thermal shirt
- Warm gloves
- Snow jacket
- Snow boots
- Warm socks
- Thermal underwear
- Some sort of neck covering
- Down jacket
Things that are most likely provided, but you will want to check:
- Thermal pad
- Waterproof bag
- Snow boots
- Bivvy sack
- Sleeping bag
- Winter grade tent
Antarctica’s Laws About Going On The Continent:
Antarctica is a very fragile environment so extra precautions are taken to make sure its ecosystems stay intact. Everything you take onto the continent needs to be thoroughly washed, inspected, and decontaminated before your voyage to make sure you aren’t introducing any other life to the continent that doesn’t exist there already.
You also aren’t supposed to touch or lure any animals you may see, (most likely penguins while camping) while they may approach you, you cannot try to approach them or lure them to approach you.
While there is not much need for one with the lack of people you encounter on the continent, you should know that you are not allowed to bring any sort of firearm onto the continent.
While it may be tempting, you are not allowed to take any sort of souvenirs. Nothing at all, not even a small rock, feather, or even soil, it is banned. However, you can take a photo of the item to keep forever.
When camping, you are not allowed to bring anything such as food, drink (other than water), or even relieve yourself on the continent. It would honestly be easier to just let you know what you can bring, so limit it to your gear, necessary clothing, a waste bucket, your camera gear, and a few water bottles (preferably reusable).
How Much Does Camping On Antarctica Cost?
Camping is normally an optional activity and therefore is offered at extra cost if you would like to do it. The average cost of the trip is relatively inexpensive costing about $150-$300 per person. Noting that this includes rental gear, the guide, travel to the continent by zodiac, and any extras that they provide.
Benefits Of Going Camping In Antarctica:
Many people who have ventured out and camped on the continent say that the views are breathtaking during the day and at night. If you are a photographer, it is a great time to get some sunset shots, wildlife shots, and night shots of the vast night sky that you can see in Antarctica with no light pollution in sight.
Sense of adventure:
The fact that you are doing something that you have not done before is invigorating. Yes, you may have gone camping, but have you gone camping in temperatures that average out well below freezing level possibly surrounded by penguins underneath the night sky? Probably not.