Aerial view of the South Pole camp

South Pole

Fly to the South Pole, and stand at 90° South, the ultimate goal of polar explorers Amundsen and Scott. The chance to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has limited booking availability. Contact us today for booking!

Lodging Arrangements in the South Pole

Our tented camp provides as much comfort and security as possible given the extreme environment. Guests planning overnight experiences will sleep in tents. There are different tent types and configuration available depending on your itinerary. Read more below, and contact us today for booking inquiries and for more information!

South Pole Conservation

This region is designated as an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA #5). This designation helps conserve the environmental, scientific and historical values of the area. A management plan directs all activities in the area, and specific guidelines apply to all non-governmental visits. We ask for your cooperation in respecting visitor guidelines during any time we spend at the South Pole.

History

Several famous races to be the “first” took place during the early part of the 20th century. Brit Robert Falcon Scott, initially tasked with scientific exploration in Antarctica, became embroiled in a quest to reach the South Pole before any other. At the same time, Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who had recently lost out on the chance to be first to the North Pole, set his sights south. Scott’s expedition deviated from their scientific task on October 24th, 1911, and headed for the South Pole.

Early in January, he chose 4 men from the crew of 16, and the group man-handled sleds with supplies and equipment.  Trudging the final distance, they arrived at the South Pole on January 17, 1912. Unfortunately for Scott and his men, Amundsen had already planted a flag for Norway about 5 weeks prior. Amundsen, who presumably planned the expedition solely for the glory of being first to reach the South Pole, soon found his accomplishment tarnished. Scott’s party all perished in the harsh conditions they faced returning to their ship afterwards, painting the whole expedition in a dark light. 

South Pole Camp: Vinson Base Camp

Guests on guided experiences will enjoy our comfortable sturdy 4-season mountain tents situated amongst spectacular scenery. We typically use Mountain Hardwear Trango 3.1 tents. These free-standing, double-walled tents have a more complex pole configuration. This makes them extremely strong in high winds, regardless of the wind direction.

Vinson Base Camp has a dedicated guide serving as manager at all times and is supported by other base camp staff and Rangers. As their name suggests, Rangers move about the mountain maintaining equipment and re-stocking caches. They also coordinate with visiting guides to keep Vinson clean and provide assistance to field parties when required. Together, Base Camp staff provide meals for our guests, manage and maintain our base camp facilities, coordinate with visiting guides, and assist in case of emergency on the mountain.

History 

Mount Vinson lies in the aptly named Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains, deep in the interior of Antarctica. It was first summited on December 18, 1966 and for many years did not see a second ascent due to the challenges of accessing its remote locations. In 1985, a private expedition to Mount Vinson took place. 30+ years later, climbers may still book guided trips to the top of this peak!

Climbers should be prepared for extreme temperatures of -40°F (-40°C) and possible severe storms higher on the mountain.

Meals

The heated base camp tent serves as both a dining & relaxation area for guided guests and an operations center for mountain logistics. Meals are often prepared on-site with fresh ingredients and sometimes include fresh-frozen meals prepared in advance by the chefs at Union Glacier.

Toilets

Simple, open-air toilets with privacy walls provide a “loo with a view” looking out over the Nimitz Glacier. In keeping with our policy of best environmental practices, all solid waste is returned to Punta Arenas, Chile (via Union Glacier) for proper disposal. No shower facilities are provided at Vinson Base Camp.

Communication

Vinson Base Camp maintains daily communication with climbing parties, Union Glacier camp, and our Chile office, using VHF, HF, Satellite phone, and email communications. Guests can make outgoing satellite phone calls from base camp, using our Iridium handsets. Pre-paid phone cards can be purchased at Union Glacier or Vinson Base Camps.

Power

Vinson Base Camp is solar powered and limited charging facilities are available in the main tent. Two types of outlets are available: USB and 120V A/C (North American Type A or B plugs). Ensure your batteries are fully charged prior to leaving Union Glacier, you have back-up batteries on hand, and you leave any unnecessary electronics behind. Please be courteous of your fellow climbers and do not leave electronics plugged in overnight.

Time

Even though we operate in 24-hour daylight, Vinson Base Camp time is the same as Punta Arenas, Chile, where our flights originate. Our other camps at Union Glacier, South Pole, and the Emperor Penguin Colony also operate on this same time.

Vinson Base Camp Time

GMT (UK time) -3 hours

Eastern Standard Time (NYC time) +2 hours

Pacific Standard Time (LA time) +5 hours.

Vinson Low Camp & High Camp

Staff members maintain a communal dining tent at Low Camp. The facilities at High Camp are more basic than those at Low Camp. Your guide will prepare simple meals in a cooking shelter and you can eat inside your tent or outside if the weather is calm.

South Pole Camp: Three Glaciers

We ensure ultimate privacy and superior service through limiting camp occupancy to just 16 guests. We offer three suites featuring king beds, and five suites outfitted with two extra-long twin beds.

Our suites provide relaxation and comfort. These double-walled havens are designed to withstand the toughest Antarctic conditions while their interiors are focused on the cozy details. Custom white oak and walnut beds feature dreamy mattresses, sateen sheets, and down duvets. Even in 24-hour daylight, you can draw the window shades and settle in for a deep slumber. All suites are heated and equipped with a sitting area, a charging station for personal electronics, and plenty of space to store polar gear.

The Experience

Enjoy unobstructed views from your private patio, as the eight suites are perfectly positioned around 180° like a giant sundial. This precise alignment also optimizes the summer sun’s path, giving each patio a period of direct sunlight.

The dining room and lounge are the heart of camp. Here our Chef creates original Three Glaciers dishes with fresh ingredients flown in from Chile. In between meals, you can relax on the sofa with a book from our polar library or enjoy a coffee from the comfort of a leather lounge chair.

Activities

Majestic peaks and tumbling glaciers offer unlimited opportunities for snowmobiling, hiking, climbing, and skiing. The options for exploration in this magnificent setting are almost endless and our experienced guides will design daily adventures to match each group’s pursuits.

Want to stay near camp? No problem! Just behind Three Glaciers lies the perfect hill for a quick ski or snowboard session. Or grab the volleyball for a scrimmage on our snow court. Looking to relax? That’s our specialty! Let us pour the wine as you breathe in the absolute quiet and stunning views from one of our secluded viewing platforms.

Environmental Ethic

In keeping with our mission to set the highest possible environmental standards, our camp is primarily solar powered. Generators are only used in the event of extended cloud cover and interior spaces are heated with high-efficiency Toyostoves.

We protect this pristine landscape by removing all waste, including human waste, from Three Glaciers. Private toilet facilities are located in the center of camp and utilize a system that separates liquid and solid waste for ease of transport.

While we work to minimize the amount of residue water we generate, as well as the fuel we use to melt snow, we encourage you to enjoy the luxury of a hot shower, here in the middle of Antarctica. We gather and melt snow straight from the glacier to keep a piping hot supply ready in our custom-built shower facility. Complementary toiletries and towels are provided.

South Pole Camp: Union Glacier

We can house up to 70 guests in our dual occupancy Clam Tents. These double-walled sleeping tents are designed to withstand Antarctic conditions with a high-tech nylon covering and durable aluminum frame that opens up like a clam shell. They are also incredibly comfortable to live in with large doors and a tall interior that allows you to stand upright and move around easily (16 ft x 8 ft or 5 m x 2.4 m). Tents are naturally heated by the 24-hour sunlight up to 60°-70°F (15°-21°C) but also have a wooden floor underneath to provide insulation from the snow and solid footing. Each guest is provided with a cot, mattress, pillow, linens, towels, and wash basin.

Please tell us if you have a preferred tent-mate. Otherwise we will pair you with a compatible roommate of the same gender.

Weather

The South Pole climate consists of generally cold, dry, and windy conditions. Even through summer, the temperatures remain below freezing at all times. Camp remains typically less windy than other areas, such as the blue-ice runway. Temperatures usually range between -12° to 30°F (-24° to -1°C). Please keep in mind conditions can change rapidly and wind chill can make temperatures feel colder. You must bring everything on our required clothing & equipment lists so you are prepared for all conditions.

Meals

The dining tent acts as the heart of our camp and serves as a gathering place for all of our guests. You’ll have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Travelers embarking on everything from a Mount Vinson summit attempt to a Ski South Pole expedition camp here. You’ll get to mingle with our staff, who speak 15 different languages. You may also have the chance to talk to scientists working on a variety of research projects.

Our talented chefs utilize a fully equipped kitchen to create fresh-cooked meals, baked goods, and fantastic desserts. We offer a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses that we fly in regularly from Chile. Additionally, we offer a variety of hot beverages, soft drinks, juices, and water. Chilean beer and wine will be served in limited quantities with dinner.

At set times we serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In between meals, self-serve snacks and beverages are always available. All meals are buffet style and vegetarian options are available upon request. If you have made special dietary requests, please introduce yourself to the kitchen staff when you arrive in camp. Due to the remote location of our camp and distance from advanced medical care, we are unable to cater to those with severe food allergies.

Showers & Toilets

While at Union Glacier Camp, you’ll have access to communal showers and toilet facilities. In keeping with our mission to set the highest possible environmental standards, we try to minimize the amount of residue (grey) water we generate as well as the fuel we use to melt snow in Antarctica. We provide disinfectant hand gel in the dining tent and in all toilets and ask that guests limit shower use to every 2-3 days to conserve water. We also provide wash basins if you don’t want to take a full shower. Many guests bring pre-moistened towelettes such as Wet Wipes to use in between showers. Towels are provided in your tent and body wash is available in all shower stalls but you should bring any other toiletries with you.  We do not offer laundry service in Antarctica.

All human waste must be removed from Union Glacier Camp, which requires us to keep liquid and solid waste separate for ease of transport. For men, a stand-up urinal is provided in addition to a sit-down toilet. For women, two sit-down toilets are provided, one for liquid waste and another one for solid waste and toilet paper. During the night, some guests prefer to use a “pee bottle” in their tent. Our staff will show you the container where you empty your pee bottles next to the toilet facility. Don’t forget to bring your pee bottle with you when you leave camp. On vehicle excursions, our guides will also have a portable toilet you can use in emergencies.

Activities

While at Union Glacier you choose your activity or relaxation level. Each morning after breakfast we will meet with you to discuss the options and organize activities tailored to the weather and your interests. We offer a variety of group excursions, described in our detailed itineraries, and there plenty of activities you can do on your own around camp. Take a walk, cross-country ski, or try out one of our fat tire bikes on the groomed 6 mi (10 km) loop. If you’re looking for something more low-key, check out a book, movie, or game in our polar library.

In the evenings, our guest lecturers will host engaging talks on a variety of topics from polar history to glaciology. Many will share photos and stories of their own expeditions to remote parts of Antarctica and beyond. Please respect camp quiet hours between 10pm and 7am.

Communication

Satellite phone cards are available for purchase with US cash ($40 USD for 30 minutes). Please note: charges base on attempted transmission and not on each connection. You can ask for a satellite phone in our Communications Office during specified hours and can make calls from our phone booths or your own tent. Please do not use satellite phones in communal areas like the dining tent.

There is no mobile coverage in Antarctica. Satellite internet access is for ALE operations only. Please enjoy this digital detox!

Power

Find limited charging facilities in the dining tent. Each feature two types of outlets: USB and 120V A/C (North American Type A or B plugs). Please ensure that you have fully charged your batteries before leaving Punta Arenas. You will also want to bring back-up batteries for any crucial electronics and leave an unnecessary electronics behind. As a courtesy to other guests we ask that you do not leave electronics plugged in overnight.

Transportation

We maintain a fleet of specially adapted vehicles for ground transportation, snow clearing, and runway maintenance. These include two 4×4 and three 6×6 passenger vans, several tractors, Tucker Sno-Cats, industrial snow-blowers, skiway groomer, and a number of snowmobiles and sleds.

Time

Even though we operate in 24-hour daylight, Union Glacier Camp time is the same as Punta Arenas, Chile, where our flights originate. Our other camps at Mount Vinson, South Pole, and the Emperor Penguin Colony also operate on this same time.

Union Glacier Time

GMT (UK time) -3 hours

Eastern Standard Time (NYC time) +2 hours

Pacific Standard Time (LA time) +5 hours.

Amundsen-Scott Station, located at the South Pole uses New Zealand Daylight Time (GMT +13 hours).