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How to Camp in Antarctica

Written by David Orrock | 11th December 2016 |

Category: Antarctica

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Yes, you read that right. Should you find yourself down on the most inhospitable continent on the planet, and someone suggests you might like to go and sleep outside, you may well question their sanity. If you agree, you'll almost certainly question your own.

However, it is an experience, and one few will ever have, so don't dismiss it out of hand. You'll likely not get too much sleep, but you'll certainly have a night to remember, (and some bragging rights if that's your thing)! Plus if you're on an Antarctic cruise, this is one of the best ways to gain an inkling of what the great explorers went through.

So what do you need to camp in Antarctica? Here's the recommended kit list (all should be provided by your boat except the first):

  • Warm clothing. Yes, it is cold. Layer up, with everything you'd wear on a normal shore excursion, possibly a little more. This is the time to break out the thermals if you haven't yet.
  • Sleeping bag liner & 4 season bag.
  • Bivvy bag. This is essentially an outer bag into which you in your sleeping bag slide. Waterproof, and can be entirely zipped up, or just with the mesh opening closed so you can feel the wind on your face. It all depends on your propensity to claustrophobia?
  • Sleeping mat. Typical thermarest job does the trick.
  • Shovel. This is how you create your 'bed.' Dig down around the depth of the shovel blade (so roughly 10 inches / 25cm) - and the width/length of your mat. Much wider/deeper, and you create a trough which the wind can really get stuck into.
  • Barrel. Without going into too much detail, there are no facilities in Antarctica, and regulations dictate all waste is carried out. On our trip, «I’m just going for a chat with 'Mrs Yum Yum' now," was the requisite euphemism...

And that's pretty much it. You dig your hole, go for a chat with Mrs Yum Yum, then struggle/snuggle into your bivvy bag etc to try and get some sleep. If need be (i.e. if you do get too cold), there's always the possibility to get back to the boat, though the equipment is such that this really shouldn't be necessary. Then you cross your fingers and toes for optimum conditions, either prior to hunkering down, or upon awakening.

And if you're lucky, and it's going to be a sunny day, you'll be rewarded with the greatest dawn you'll probably ever see. Crisp Antarctic air will fill your lungs, the sun will inch its way over the snowy mountains, and you'll feel like the first human to ever set foot here. Which is an experience that's pretty hard to find.


If you’d like to discover Antarctica and why not experience camping out in the world's last great wilderness, please call us on  01273 676 712  or email at info[@] .

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