Adventure abounds in Antarctica! Over the last few years, Antarctica cruise lines have added more opportunities for high adventure and active exploration. With so many options, sorting through the choices can be overwhelming.
As the sea ice and snow ashore differ drastically over the Antarctica travel season, some activities are best done earlier in the season. Others can be done throughout the season.
The 'early season' runs from the end of October to early December. During the early season sea ice is just starting to break up. There is still lots of snow and ice ashore. This is the best time of year for activities that need solid snow and ice.
Best Adventure Options - Early Season
Snow Shoeing: The perfect way to explore the snow and ice covered landings that are difficult to get around in rubber boots. Gear is provided when this option is chosen. Snowshoeing demands no extra skills besides a normal, good state of health. You need to be able to do a 6-hour walk in fairly rugged terrain with varied elevation gain.
Snow Mountaineering: This is a technical and more strenuous activity for mountaineers who wish to hike beyond the shore radius in order to reach higher grounds and viewpoints. You must be fit for prolonged walks in fairly rugged terrain. Backcountry guides will accompany every group.
Snow Mountaineering & Ice Climbing: Not for the faint of heart, but truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Offered in the early season when ice and snow is still solid. Companies offering this option provide equipment and highly qualified guides who will provide with the basics of ice climbing. You don’t need to be highly experienced, but you should have experience with climbing and basic mountaineering.
Ski Touring: A few select voyages offer the chance to explore more remote areas as a group on backcountry skis. Safety gear is provided, and each group is accompanied by a certified guide. This is for experienced backcountry skiers only.
Ski Mountaineering: This activity is for experienced ski mountaineers who aim at reaching the higher peaks. Under the guidance of a certified mountain and ski guide, participants move into sometimes steep, deep snow-covered, partly glaciated, and potentially dangerous alpine terrain. The ski mountain guide is in charge and responsible for the safety of the group.
Adventure Activities - All Season
Kayaking: Paddling between icebergs and pack ice, observing animals in their natural environment, the only sound you hear is water dripping from the paddles, kayaking is truly a peaceful way to become one with the coastline surrounding Antarctica. Kayakers are accompanied with a kayak guide and have the opportunity to go off the beaten track. Kayaking in the polar areas adds greatly to the experience being in unspoiled wilderness. Basic kayaking skills are required.
Overnight Sea Kayaking: One select voyage offers a multi-night kayaking trip. All gear and facilities are supplied.
Camping: Spend the night sleeping outside in Antarctica! Camping can be done anytime during the season in Antarctica, but is really beautiful on the snow and ice. Ships offer different options for “open-air” camping with extremely warm sleeping bags, to tent camping, to several night programs with kayaks. All you need to bring is your enthusiasm and sense of adventure!
Stand Up Paddle Boarding: Combining surfing with kayaking or canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding will give you a very personal and unique perspective on Antarctica. Guided by experienced staff in small groups in good weather conditions on calm bays and harbors.
Photography: Many different options exist for specialized photography. Some companies offer Photographer in Residence program, Enhanced Photography Program, Expedition Photography, and even Photographic Symposiums. Some vessels have multimedia rooms for photo downloading and optimization. It is safe to say that all programs will offer opportunities for amazing shots and enthusiastic help onboard staff.
Polar Diving & Snorkeling: Diving in polar waters is truly something unique. A few trips offer the opportunity to scuba dive. You must be a very experienced diver and familiar with cold water diving and dry suit diving (at least 20 dives). Before departure you will have to show an internationally accepted diving certificate, diver's logbook and a statement from your doctor (not older than two years) stating that you are physically healthy to practice scuba diving.
Some of the same companies that offer the scuba diving will offer the chance to polar snorkel. Gear is provided but you must be an experienced diver to participate.
Polar Plunge & Sledding: While not formal options, you'll be able to test your mettle by being one of the rare few to brave a swim in frigid Antarctic waters. Or maybe you'll barrel down the best-ever sledding hill with new or old friends. Or, at Deception Island try a soak in pools of hot volcanic ground water followed by a polar plunge.
With the wide range of adventure options available in Antarctica, there is certain to be the perfect combination for you. At ExploringCircle we help you understand the differences and help you create your ideal Antarctic travel adventure!