Extreme camping in Antarctica | Adventures at Damoy Point

by Vanessa Wanders Miles

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!

Making your bed for Antarctic Camping - Wanders Miles

Making your bed for Antarctic Camping. 

Camping experience with bivvy bags and sunsets at Damoy Point Antarctica - Wanders Miles

Bivvy bags ready for extreme camping in Antarctica

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.

Sunsets and ship views - Camping at Damoy Point Antarctica Sunsets whilst camping at Damoy Point - antarctica

RELATED ARTICLE: Orne Harbour or Gentoo Penguins on Cuverville Island.

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!

Fun times extreme camping at Damoy Point in Antarctica - Wanders Miles


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!


Useful links for Antarctica


WHY NOT PIN FOR LATER?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. It comes at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

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22 comments

Linda (LD Holland) 26th February 2020 - 12:07 am

I am going to admit up front that I am a bit of a princess these days. Regular camping is not usually on my agenda. And extreme Arctic camping leaves me shivering at the thought. Even dressed for survival I am not sure I could sleep a wink in my ice grave. And to do all of this and not be able to eat. But those sunset views you got were certainly stunning. So great that you got to have this experience!

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Vanessa 26th February 2020 - 12:17 am

Albeit I think you would LOVE the Antarctic cruise, I thought I might might you out on the camping… you might surprise yourself though Linda, it was great fun and a once in a lifetime experience! You get to eat dinner before you go by the way 😉

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Clare Colley 26th February 2020 - 8:17 am

Wow that looks like an amazing experience. I would love to visit Antarctica but as I get severe sea sickness am not sure its possible. As much as I hate the cold, I think though I would love the experience of sleeping outside and seeing those views. Your pictures are amazing and I hope one day I will get to experience it too.

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Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 9:19 am

Shame about the severe sea sickness because this trip was totally worth the rough seas for me. Camping was just one of the amazing experiences.

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Agnes 28th February 2020 - 4:54 am

Wow, I speechless. I am delighted with your Antarctica adventure and this extreme camping. It is hard to express my appreciation in words. Congratulations! The photos from your experience are breathtaking. But I don’t know if I would survive in such extreme conditions. I had no idea that camping might look like that. I like to camp in a tent, but when it is so cold, I prefer slightly warmer places.

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Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 9:23 am

It was surprising how cosy it was when you were settled in your ‘cocoon’. The sunsets in Antarctica made it all worthwhile.

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Subhashish Roy 28th February 2020 - 5:09 pm

Your smile says it all. What a beautiful place. I love snow and probably there is no better place to go than Antarctica. Going through this post of yours makes my resolve even stronger.

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Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 9:25 am

I was pretty happy getting involved in all the adventures in Antarctica – I hope you get to experience this pristine wilderness.

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Clarice 28th February 2020 - 9:05 pm

We have always dreamed of camping in Antarctica but we’re not really sure if we are ready for the extreme weather conditions. This post is truly helpful and I appreciate all the tips that you shared. Also, I had no idea that food is not allowed on the islands.

But after seeing the view that await me in Antarctica, I am now excited to visit. I just a little more time to prepare.

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Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 9:26 am

Yes anything such as food, fuel, human waste, plastic etc is not allowed to keep landscape and animals safe. Hope you get to book your trip to Antarctica real soon!

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Stephanie 29th February 2020 - 5:30 am

THIS IS AMAZING! Go, girl! Yes, the phrase “digging your grave” does sound quite sinister! I was like…dear God! Is the survival rate for this endeavor that low!? Lol. I was totally wondering how the actual sleep was, I’m glad you had a peaceful night until woken up! When it snows heavily in NY, I find it SO peaceful to suit up, lay in the snow, and watch the clouds go by for a few minutes.

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Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 9:28 am

Haha digging our grave was part of the fun! I couldn’t really watch the skies once in my bivvy nag as I zipped it up to keep warm – like a cosy cocoon!

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Paula 1st March 2020 - 8:50 am

Wow, this is amazing! I bet you guys will never forget this experience! It looks so beautiful there. When I was younger I would have not hesitated to do this but now… I might think twice. It sounds very tempting and fun though. Something I would definitely like read more about.

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Vanessa 1st March 2020 - 3:56 pm

To be honest, most of the people on our ship were over 60 so Antarctica isn’t ageist – you just need an adventurous spirit!

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Archana Singh 1st March 2020 - 11:01 am

Antarctica is my dream destination and your post has further increased my desire to see the continent. Glad to know that you finally slept in the wilderness of Antarctica. Thank god the weather cooperated. I bet it would be mindblowing to see the skies change colour and evolve with the glowing icebergs. Your pictures are stunning.

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Vanessa 1st March 2020 - 3:57 pm

It’s definitely one on the bucket list to say you’ve slept in the wilderness of Antarctica – I want to go again!!

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MEENAKSHI J 1st March 2020 - 7:33 pm

What an enviable experience…haha. Jokes apart, I am glad you got a chance to go camping in Antarctica peninsula. Wonderful! Very thoughtful that you all followed the rules to the tee, from not taking food to filling back the graves! Thanks for sharing this experience of yours and hope someday I get to go camping in Antarctica too!

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Vanessa 1st March 2020 - 11:09 pm

We are given a mandatory briefing by the exploration leader on the ship, these are guidelines set out by International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) to ensure tourists follow the rules to protect the continent. It was such a fabulous experience, I’d go back in a heartbeat.

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Yukti Agrawal 1st March 2020 - 8:26 pm

Oh it must be very scary when you were sailing through Damoy Point in the Antarctic Peninsula, the weather took a expected turn for the worst and the icebergs in the ocean started increasing. I can understand here camping is very extreme and sounds very adventurous and true life experience. Watching the colorful change in skies with the glowing icebergs was the perfect would be a perfect start of the day while camping off in the snow. You have done truly an epic trip which everybody dreams of.

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Vanessa 1st March 2020 - 11:11 pm

I still dream of Antarctica… you’re right, it was epic. Camping was a wonderful adventure, especially with the jaw-dropping sunsets!

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Lindsey 20th March 2020 - 4:28 am

Wow! What an amazing experience. Ha! And I never would have thought you would have “to dig a grave to sleep in Antarctica!” It does make sense, though. Your photos are breathtaking!

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Vanessa 26th March 2020 - 10:41 pm

Haha, just a turn of phrase but it did feel like you were digging a grave. Great fun out in the Antarctic wilderness!

Reply

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