12 Things to Do in Antarctica

by Oceanwide Expeditions Blog

There are numerous things to do in Antarctica that might help sharpen your focus, ensuring you get an experience tailored to your personal tastes.

Regions: Antarctica

All the amazing things to do in Antarctica

Traveling to Antarctica is unlike traveling to any other place on Earth.

Whether you’re embarking on a classic Antarctic Peninsula cruise or a more specialized voyage – such as a Weddell Sea trip (with helicopters) or Antarctica Basecamp cruise – any experience of the White Continent will be unique and unforgettable.

That said, there are numerous things to do in Antarctica that might help sharpen your focus, ensuring you get an experience tailored to your personal tastes.

That’s why we’ve written this entry about our guests’ favorite things to do in Antarctica. Including both onboard activities and in-field excursions, this list will help you decide the best way to enjoy Antarctica – and which cruise will give it to you.

1. Cruise to Antarctica

Let’s start with the obvious. Unless you’re a scientist employed at an Antarctic research station, the best (and typically only) way to enjoy Antarctica is by setting out on an Antarctica cruise. Of all the things to do in Antarctica, this is the baseline. Book a cruise to Antarctica and you’re already on the right track.

2. Look for wildlife

It probably comes as no surprise that this is one of the best things to do in Antarctica, and for good reason: many species of seal (leopard, crabeater, Ross, and Weddell seal), multiple species of whale (humpback, minke, fin, sei, and blue whale, among others), and even more species of penguin (gentoo, Adélie, rockhopper, chinstrap, and emperor penguin, just to name a few) make Antarctica one of the top places on the planet to see exotic wildlife. And did we mention all the other southern birds you can see?

Picture by Angela Beckwith

3. Camp in Antarctica

Perhaps less expected is the fact that our guests consider camping one their favorite things to do in Antarctica. Contrary to what you might think, Antarctic camping is a comfortable activity most anyone can do. Joined by our expert expedition guides, you and your fellow passengers will have all the gear and assistance you need to stay warm and dry. And what a story you’ll have when you get back to the vessel (and back home)!

4. See icebergs and landscapes

No list of things to do in Antarctica can be complete without mentioning the ice. We’re talking about the polar regions, after all. Indeed, there are key differences between the ice formations of Antarctica and the Arctic that set the southern polar regions apart – beyond all the beautiful tabular icebergs.

5. Kayak Antarctica’s waters

Of all the things to do in Antarctica, this is near the top of the food chain for both our guests and guides. Nothing gets you away from the vessel in a more peaceful, natural way than paddling a kayak among the ice floes and bergs. Kayaking in Antarctica lets you experience the area in the most intimate way possible, apart from walking. But we’ll get to that.

Picture by Andy Austin

6. Mountaineer

Looking for more vigorous things to do in Antarctica? It’s hard to beat Antarctic mountaineering for that. We mostly do soft climbs with gradual ascents, but occasionally we offer more technical climbs for experienced mountaineers. Antarctica offers up spectacular views wherever you are, but even more so from on high.

7. Visit Antarctic research stations

While we can’t guarantee this option will always be available, one of our guests’ favorite things to do in Antarctica is see some of the research stations open to civilians. These house the only semi-permanent human population of the Antarctic Continent, composed chiefly of scientists studying topics ranging from biology to climatology.

Picture by David McKinley

8. Practice photography

It’s almost impossible to take a bad picture in Antarctica, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy sharpening your skills in our photography workshops. Offered on both our Basecamp trips and certain other cruises, these workshops take place on board and off and are led by experienced nature photographers. This is a fun and informative thing to do in Antarctica.

9. Scuba dive in Antarctica

Yes, you read that right. If you have the required dry suit experience, you can join our guides on an adventure below the Antarctic waves – and icebergs. While this is a specialty activity only offered on select cruises, Antarctic diving consistently proves to be one of the most popular things to do in Antarctica for the adventurous few.

Picture by Andrew Peacock

10. Go snowshoe hiking

Strap on a pair of snowshoes and set out into the surreal polar wilderness! How could this not be one of our guests’ top things to do in Antarctica? If kayaking and scuba diving get you as close as possible to the Antarctic waters, our hiking and snowshoeing activities get you just as close to the otherworldly polar terrain.

11. Attend interesting lectures

Our guests are usually doing so many outdoor activities during their Antarctica cruise that they welcome the chance to warm up on our vessels, drink something hot, and enjoy the many engaging presentations our guides love to deliver. Covering subjects as varied as local wildlife, expedition history, and the science of ice formations, these talks are sometimes also delivered by guest-lecturers who work in the sciences. Of all the things to do in Antarctica, this is one of the most relaxing and informative.

12. Do the polar plunge

We saved the most thrilling (or shocking?) for last. This is another activity we can’t always offer, since it depends so heavily on local conditions. But when it’s available, the legendary polar plunge is by all accounts one of the most daring things to do in Antarctica, truly separating the polar junkies from the tourists. Don’t be too nervous, though – we keep blankets and hot chocolate on hand for all those bold enough to do it.

Picture by Andy Austin

Main image by Tim Bieber

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