Camping Out in the Antarctic
If you’re looking for an experience that truly breaks the mold of traditional cruise line activities then we’d like to introduce you to one of our most unique offerings – camping out under the Antarctic skies.
How does it work?
After dinner you’ll leave your cruise ship and zip ashore via a Zodiac. An experienced guide will choose the campsite spot and instruct everybody in how to set up their tents and sleeping bags. The next morning everybody will help to break down the camp, making sure that no gear or garbage gets left behind, and clean the camping gear. The location for camps and the amount of camp nights offered depends on the weather and location of the ship. One night of camping to accommodate all of our passengers is our goal; additional nights are offered whenever we can manage in, subject to conditions.
Setting up camp © Sandra Petrowitz-Oceanwide Expeditions
Do you have to be an experienced camper?
Not at all. Your guide will be there to lend a helping hand every step of the way. This activity is also one that can be shared by all of our passengers; you don’t need to be a rugged survivalist or particularly athletic to join the camp.
Is it safe?
In terms of wildlife you’ll be perfectly fine – since the camping activity only takes place in Antarctica and not the Arctic you won’t have to worry about polar bears. You do however have to be prepared for a night out in the South Pole. Regulations forbid taking any fuel or artificial heating equipment on shore. That means bringing along:
- Thermal underwear
- Fleece vest or jacket
- Thick socks (with spares)
- Down jacket
- Warm gloves or mittens
- A breathable (e.g. Gore-Tex) jacket and trousers
- Thermal under-gloves (fleece finger gloves)
- A turtle-neck or neck gaiter
- Warm hat
In addition to the appropriate clothing you’ll want to bring a proper urination bottle (e.g. a wide-opening Nalgene bottle – such bottles for ladies are sold in outdoor shops) and a torch/flashlight or a headlight which will come in handy since morning departures in February through March are made while it’s still dark out. Also in terms of safety there is a maximum of 30 passengers per camp. This lets us keep a safe ratio of passengers to experienced field guides (1 guide per 20 passengers). The field guides maintain constant radio contact with the cruise ship.
Camping without a tent in just a warm and comfortable bivouac bag © Barbara R-Oceanwide Expeditions
Do I have to bring a sleeping bag?
We’ve got you covered. Oceanwide provides you with a polar synthetic sleeping bag that has a cotton inner liner. We’ll also provide:
- Breathable bivouac bag
- Tents that fit up to 3 people (weather-permitting you may choose to sleep without the tent)
- A portable field toilet (one per group)
- A waterproof transport bag
- A battery-powered lantern for your tent
- Insulated waterproof rubber boots
Is this bad for the environment?
Your field guide will situate the camp so that it does not disturb any wildlife in the area (though the penguins may disturb you with their chatter). Aside from that international organisational bodies have set up strict regulations when it comes to human interaction with Antarctica. We follow those regulations to the letter which means that in the morning nothing gets left behind – all gear and human waste is brought back to the ship, leaving the environment in the pristine and beautiful state that brought us there for our adventure together.
High quality equipment and tent provided © Sandra Petrowitz-Oceanwide Expeditions
Cotton clothing like normal t-shirts and jeans are not advisable as cotton tends to get wet and stay wet while moving in a cold environment. Use thermal underwear. Exploring remote and wild regions like Antarctica requires a sensible and flexible approach. Although there can be bright skies with sunshine the weather is unpredictable. Catabatic winds, caused by the icecaps and glaciers, can pick up suddenly and are a fierce opponent for polar travellers. This might lead to the cancellation of planned camp nights as field camping can and will only take place in safe weather conditions.