Kayaking in Antarctica

Sea kayaking in Antarctica is open to anyone with an adventurous spirit, basic paddling skills and the ability to get themselves in and out of the cockpit of a kayak. You don't need to be super experienced, but you should have kayaked before as this isn't a 'beginner's course'.

A significant number of Antarctic ships offer kayaking as an optional add-on, but do double check when choosing your voyage if this is something you definitely want to take part in. There’s typically an additional cost and spaces are limited to around 14 persons - which is a real benefit - but does mean that you need to book your place at the same time as your cabin.

Kayaking in Antarctica

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How does it work?

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Your small kayaking group will be led, assisted and accompanied throughout by an experienced kayaking guide. They perform multiple roles - guide, narrator and health & safety officer - ensuring everyone is safe and getting the most from the experience.

Once you’ve been allocated with all of the necessary kayaking kit - which is all provided - the guide will offer kayaking excursions as often as possible (up to twice a day), as long as conditions allow. The waters around on the the Antarctic Peninsula are very protected, making it prime kayaking country.

The kayaking excursions take place at the same time as everyone else on the ship does the zodiac excursions, so there is a trade-off to consider. However, just because you’ve signed up to kayaking doesn’t mean you’re duty bound to participate in every outing, you are free to pick and choose between kayaking and joining the others in the zodiacs.

Each kayaking excursion is approx. 2-3 hours in length, similar to a zodiac excursion, and your ‘course’ will be dictated by the guide. Constant contact with the ship is maintained by radio and typically there’s a support zodiac close by.

You'll be provided with a full dry-suit, neoprene boots, a waterproof dry bag, "pogies" (insulated mittens that attach to your paddle) and a life vest. You just need to bring sunglasses, sunscreen and appropriate layers to wear under your dry-suit. A warm hat is also a good idea.

What does it cost?

As an additional activity there’s quite a variation in the cost to do kayaking, from $695 - $1,050 per person, depending on which ship you join. While this may seem quite high compared with the more modest price for camping, bear in mind that while you only camp once you could end up kayaking every day, if the weather allows. The more often you go kayaking the more value you’ll get as the average cost per trip will decrease. We think kayaking is one of the best things you can do in Antarctica and well worth the money.

If you only want to experience kayaking in Antarctica once, alongside a wide range of other activities, which are all included in the voyage price, then the Antarctic Basecamp Adventure is well worth considering.

Swoop Says

Antarctic Voyages with Kayaking

John says

FAQs: Kayaking in Antarctica

  • How far will I paddle?

    Rather than travelling large distances, the aim is to see as much as possible. You'll typically paddle anywhere between 5 - 10 km (2 to 4 hours) per outing.

  • What happens if I fall in?

    Togged out in a drysuit and wearing a buoyancy aid you’re in little danger and typically people get straight back into their kayak with the help of the support zodiac.

  • Can I request a double kayak?

    Double kayaks are preferred by Antarctic operators over Single kayaks as they are more stable, so this won’t be a problem. Anyone wishing to have their own kayak will have to demonstrate their competency first, and it’s at the kataying guide’s discretion.

  • Can my partner & I ‘share’ one kayaking place?

    Unfortunately this isn’t possible for a few practical reasons:

    • Your kayaking kit will be selected to your size
    • The kayak will also be set up to your own specifications
    • Anyone joining the party half way through won’t have received the safety briefs
    • Only people who sign up for kayaking can undertake this activity
  • Is there kayaking in South Georgia?

    For those people undertaking a longer voyage with South Georgia, kayaking is available but isn’t as widely offered as kayaking in Antarctica. The kayaking here is also more challenging and weather more of a factor.

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