As we sailed towards Damoy Point in the Antarctic Peninsula, the weather was expected to take a turn for the worst and the number of icebergs in the ocean was increasing. After three lucky days, this was not what I wanted to hear before we embarked on extreme camping in the Antarctica wilderness. So how was the camping experience in the polar night of Antarctic wilderness?
Preparing for extreme polar camping
Following a briefing from the experts, we dressed ready for survival on the snowy land with layers of thermals (top & bottom), fleece jacket, thick socks (with spares), warm gloves, woolly hat, waterproof trousers and down jacket… and, of course, your rubber boots! Fuel is forbidden so it pays to wear the right gear!
Each happy camper collected their waterproof bag containing their kit on board – inside we found a breathable bivouac bag, a thermal mat plus an one extra mat for comfort and two sleeping bags.
Food is not allowed on the islands of Antarctica so we left after dinner in the Zodiac towards the landing of Damoy Point, waving goodbye to our fellow passengers who will spend the night tucked up inside their cosy cabin.
The guides took a small portable camping toilet and carefully built an igloo-style wall for privacy allowing you to take in the views as your take care of your business. Regulations in Antarctica don’t allow any human waste to be left on land to protect the environment so if you need to go, it’s either the portable loo or a urine bottle. Personally, I held all in until I got back to the ship.
Digging your polar grave for camping
So there’s a technique to protect yourself against the unknown weather whilst camping in Antarctica. You need to map out the size of your ‘grave’ and split it into squares then create a wall around the perimeter. Calling it a grave sounds more sinister than it really is! It’s not a case of getting your sleeping bag out, there is actual work to be done. We made it more tricky by building a ‘grave’ for four, we figured body heat would help in the night!
Glorious sunsets before zipping up
The thought of sleeping in the wilderness of Antarctica was way too exhilarating, and the fact that we nearly missed the opportunity because of the weather, made it even more special. Watching the skies change and evolve with the glowing icebergs was the perfect way to doze off in the snow.
How comfortable was camping in Antarctica?
I was pleasantly surprised at how well I slept once I’d got to sleep with a snorer in the camp. I can’t talk though, apparently, I purred like a cat. The mats and bivvy bag are made for a snug cocoon to see you through any climate. I was still blissfully sleeping when the faint noise of people woke me up at 5 am, everyone was packing up and nobody thought to give us a nudge! Apparently, a see of mist came over at 2 am (reported by the Captain who was on careful watch from the ship) causing a layer of frost across our bags, something I had been quite unaware of until I unzipped myself in the early hours.
Before we left for the Zodiac feeling a little dishevelled, great care was made to fill in the holes to prevent the penguins from falling in. Everyone ensured all bags and gear were collected and loaded onto the Zodiac. Even a Gentoo Penguin stood on shore almost waving goodbye. Although the hot coffee and biscuits back on the ship were welcome, this really was an unforgettable night on the white wonder of the seventh continent. The smiles say it all!
BOOKING AN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION
Which company to choose for Antarctica
If the activities are what you want from your Antarctica trip, always check what is included in the package. Some expeditions will charge for additional activities. We opted for the Antarctica Basecamp expedition with Oceanwide Expeditions booked with World Expeditions.
Insurance for adventure travellers
With any holiday adventure, travel insurance should be a top priority! World Nomads is my go-to guys, I’ve learnt this from experience. You can buy and claim online even when you’ve left home. I love that they give a little back too and support community development projects in various countries.
Useful links for Ushuaia
Antarctica tours set off from the windy city of Ushuaia so you will need to book accommodation before and after your expedition. It’s a fab place to explore so I’d factor in a few days if you can!
- Book the best flight deals with Skyscanner
- Find the best hotel deals in Ushuaia on Booking.com and Tripadvisor
- Amazing tours in Ushuaia on Viator from hiking, canoeing, sailing, 4×4 off-road, horse riding, and more!
Useful links for Antarctica
- Explore more Antarctica tours with G Adventures
- Buy the right gear from Blacks or Cotswold Outdoor
- Find the perfect backpack at Osprey
- Get your WATER-TO-GO Bottle with 15% OFF (Code WM15)
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