Camping out in Antarctica
If you’re looking for an experience that truly breaks the mold of traditional cruise activities, we’d like to introduce you to one of our most unique options: camping under the Antarctic skies.
How does it work?
After dinner you’ll leave the vessel and travel to shore via a swift and safe Zodiac boat. We are not allowed to bring food on land, so the camping activity is conducted after dinner and before breakfast the next day. Experienced guides will choose the campsite and instruct everybody in how to prepare the bivouac or pitch tents, if that is required.
The next morning everyone helps break camp and clean the camping gear, making sure nothing is left behind. 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, but additional nights are offered whenever we can manage it and local conditions permit.
Do you have to be an experienced camper?
Not at all. Your guides will be there to lend a helping hand every step of the way. This activity can be shared by all passengers. You don’t need to be a rugged survivalist or even particularly athletic to join the camp, but it helps if you are willing to withstand the cold and elements.
Is it safe?
In terms of wildlife you’ll be perfectly fine. Because our 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 near the South Pole. Regulations forbid taking any fuel or artificial heating equipment on shore, so please bring the following gear:
- Thermal underwear
- Fleece vest or jacket
- Thick socks (with spares)
- Down jacket
- Warm gloves or mittens
- Breathable (e.g. Gore-Tex) jacket and trousers
- Thermal under-gloves (fleece finger gloves)
- Turtleneck or neck gaiter
- Warm hat
In addition to the appropriate clothing, you’ll also want to bring a proper urination bottle (e.g., a wide-opening Nalgene bottle, commonly sold in outdoor shops) and a torch/flashlight or a headlight, which will come in handy during dark morning departures in February and March.
A portable camping toilet will also be present at the campsite. There is a maximum of 30 passengers per camp, which lets us keep a safe ratio of passengers to experienced field guides (one guide per 20 passengers). The field guides maintain constant radio contact with the ship.
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 three people (weather permitting, you may choose to sleep without the tent)
- Portable field toilet (one per group)
- Waterproof transport bag
- Battery-powered lantern for your tent
- Insulated waterproof rubber boots
Is this activity bad for the environment?
Your field guides 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 entities 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.
Cotton clothing (like T-shirts and jeans) is 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. Katabatic winds, caused by the icecaps and glaciers, can pick up suddenly and are a fierce opponent for polar travelers. This might lead to the cancellation of planned camp nights, as field camping can and will only take place in safe weather conditions.