Are adventure activities for me?

Few people can say they've been to Antarctica, but even less have camped out overnight on the ice, snowshoed with penguins or had a humpback whale swim under their kayak.

The reasons for considering these adventure activities as part of an Antarctic cruise are many - from trying something totally different to exploring the 7th continent from other angles as part of a small group - and let's not forget the sheer fun and enjoyment factor!


We can't think of many things more exciting than grabbing a sleeping bag and heading out for a night’s camping on the ice. A must for anyone with a sense of adventure and happy roughing it for a night, in return for some serious brag points back home.

You'll spend the night listening to the creaking ice and the gabble of penguins while snugly cocooned in your tent or bivvy bag, before returning to the ship early the next morning for a well deserved hot shower and hearty breakfast.

Camping is commonly available on the majority of voyages.

Camping in Antarctica


If you're looking for more activity during your Antarctic cruise and like the idea of experiencing Antarctica from a different perspective, why not jump into a sea kayak? Away from the zodiac’s outboard engines, kayaking allows you to fully appreciate the silence and majesty of Antarctica as part of a small group; the fizz and pop of ice, close encounters with wildlife and towering icebergs, the exhilaration of pushing through brash ice.

Kayaking is commonly available on the majority of voyages with the chance to go out as often as conditions allow.

Antarctic Adventure Activities
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Swoop says

In our experience, signing up to an adventure activity can massively enhance your overall trip. Plus, it ​couldn’t be easier as ​most​ ​options ​require little prior experience and all the necessary kit is provided.

Hiking & Snowshoeing

This fun activity offers a great way to explore further afield, beyond the scope of standard excursions, while burning off a few calories! Typically 2-3 hours in length, no prior experience is necessary, only a moderate level of fitness. Most ships are flexible with their snowshoeing trips and they'll have some top spots for hiking already in mind before you set off.

Snow conditions for snowshoeing are at their best earlier in the season (Nov - Dec). If this appeals it’s worth knowing that a number of the ships don’t charge extra for this activity.

Antarctic Adventure Activities


For those who are physically fit and looking for a more exciting challenge, select voyages offer the opportunity to rope up and try something a bit more adventurous. The big drawcard of mountaineering is that it gets you away from the beaten track and into corners of the Antarctic Peninsula few other visitors get to experience. The panoramic views from the top are always well worth the effort.

Mountaineering as part of a voyage typically takes at least half a day and no prior experience is required. Only available on a small selection of ships.

Antarctic Adventure Activities

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling

The opportunity to dive in Antarctica and explore a world of ice and sea creatures in one of the most pristine places in the world is a hard one to resist for any keen diver. However, scuba diving in Antarctica is a very different undertaking than in warmer waters and as such is strictly controlled.

To ensure your safety and enjoyment on the trip, all divers need to provide their ‘dive cv’ demonstrating extensive cold water dive experience (below 5 degrees), as well as familiarity with using a drysuit before being accepted. Diving is only available on a small number of ships and on select departure dates.

Scuba diving in Antarctica

Stand-Up Paddleboarding

The quiet, protected waters of the Antarctic Peninsula, ringed in by dramatic scenery on all sides, is an epic location for stand up paddleboarding and takes this growing sport to a whole new level.

Some prior experience is recommended so you're comfortable on a board and can enjoy the experience, but otherwise everything else is provided, including a dry suit - just in case you fall in!

This fun activity is currently only available on two Antarctic ships and needs to be pre booked.

Antarctic Adventure Activities

Watch our film on Antarctic adventure activities

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What our customers think of Antarctic Adventure Activities

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Whenever we went out, I always felt extremely safe and happy, whether that be in zodiacs, kayaking, mountaineering or snow shoeing. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2019

Sarah Gillett - Switzerland

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Kayaking through brash ice, overshadowed by towering 100 foot high icebergs was breathaking, very emotional and inspiring.

Travelled: December 2016

Max - The Bahamas

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My highlight was kayaking on Christmas morning in a snowstorm. I loved the blue icebergs and the thousands of penguins, seals and whales.

Travelled: December 2016

Bryce - Canada

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Kayaking was brilliant - as two novices in our kayak, the instructor put us at ease and helped us have a great experience gently moving through the water, passing icebergs, watching calving and avalanches and having the most magical time.

Travelled: December 2016

Declan - UK

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We were in a snow hole (grave) and it was the best nights sleep I have ever had camping in my life - and completely surreal to wake up in that hole and see the dawn in Antarctica - completely magical.

Travelled: December 2016

Declan - UK

Try to be in shape. The excursions can be tough for some. There were quite a few inclines, and the provided poles help greatly, use them. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2023

Arnold Ming - USA

The polar plunge turned out to be great fun. I think about 25-30 of us lined up. The shot of vodka offered as we got out of the water was great. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Inge Fryklund - USA

The Zodiac excursions were outstanding - every one of them different and intriguing in their own way. There was never any question that our safety was always foremost in the minds of the Expedition Staff, as well as the welfare of the wildlife and the ecology of Antarctica. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Marg Macleod - Canada

Activities are a must for those who would like to experience the land to its fullest potential. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Cindy He - Switzerland

Sign up early to get on the camping and kayaking list Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Gomathy Srinivasan - USA

Flipping off the back of the boat into 0.5C water during the polar plunge was absolutely breathtaking (literally and figuratively). Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Michael Bucher - USA

Mountaineering 1.2 miles fairly straight with ice pick in one hand and roped to guide with one other - when we reached the top it was exhilarating. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Joan Siegel - USA

The highlight of my trip. I loved to be able to do kayaking in Antarctica. You live a different experience from a point of view close to the water level. When you stop paddling, you can hear the voice of nature, ice cracking, birds singing, it's just unbelievable. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Christian Cancino Martinez - USA

The most exhilarating moment was the polar plunge (while it was lightly snowing). OMG the water was so cold! But it brought up this feeling of great anticipation and excitedness that I haven't felt since I was a child. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2022

Kelly DeBey - USA

Most memorable moment: snorkeling with the penguins Read the full review

Travelled: March 2022

Janet Davoli - United States Minor Outlying Islands

The zodiac trips were great and safety was stressed; both ours and the wildlife's. Most memorable was probably the first time stepping on shore amongst penguins. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Ron Hart - USA

I would highly recommend a trip with activities. I am SO happy we chose to do kayaking! Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Oliver Harris - UK

If I have to pick one moment, I’m going to pick the bum-slide down a steep slope overlooking a calving glacier and a tranquil, iceberg-filled bay that followed a lovely hike past a penguin rookery. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2022

Stephanie Krolick - USA

Edwin and Liz were great with the snorkeling team. It's tough seeing things underwater given the visibility and the speed with which the animals move but I did get some good videos of penguins swimming underwater. The two of them did a nice job maximizing our opportunities while keeping us safe. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2022

Mark Golan - USA

Most memorable moment: swimming with humpback whales in Antarctica Read the full review

Travelled: January 2022

Stephen Howe - UK

The zodiac excursions were great-lots of icebergs, seals, penguins, and whales. We even cut the engine to enjoy the "silence" of the ice - magnificent. We always felt safe; they explained what to do (and why), and reminded us how to enter and exit the craft. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Diane Walcher - USA

Our camping expedition was a one of a kind, with the penguins coming to check out the people who landed on their property and placed sleeping bags on the snow. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Karen Getzel - USA

My most memorable moment was Fournier Bay kayaking! Epic whale experience. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Randy Smith - USA

We did plan well for the zodiac trips which can be splashy and sometimes downright wet, depending on conditions. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2021

Paul Parris - USA

The zodiac excursions felt very safe and in general we managed the periodic "bath" from the process of traveling in zodiacs pretty well. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2021

Paul Parris - USA

Kayaking was a big highlight for me, with whales breaching beside us, penguins swimming in front and beside the kayak and icebergs.

Travelled: January 2017

Jenni and James - UK

Highlights include having a penguin staring at me for half an hour while I was just sitting in my sleeping bag, and watching 6 orcas circling a small iceberg to hunt the seals lying there. The captain stopped the boat while we watched transfixed for half an hour.

Travelled: December 2016

Marilyn - Argentina

The mountaineering was excellent. We were so lucky as we got to climb an untouched peak!

Travelled: November 2016

Anna - UK

The best part of the trip for me were the excursions and the optional activities. Being on land, so close to the wildlife is a great experience. I also did kayaking, which I would recommend to anyone.

Travelled: November 2016

Yevgeny - Rhode Island


Activity Costs Explained

These optional activities normally carry an additional cost. Expect to pay an extra USD$250 - $1,200 per person, depending on your chosen activity. Camping is the least expensive activity and only happens once per voyage, while most other activities you’ll do more than once. E.g Kayaking is offered most days, as long as conditions are good. It’s worth noting that certain ships include complimentary camping &/or snowshoeing in the voyage cost.

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Alex says

These optional adventure activities are really fun and an amazing way to maximise your Antarctic adventure. How many other chances will you have in your life to camp or kayak in Antarctica?

Alex Mudd Polar Specialist

Adventure Activities: FAQs

  • How fit do I need to be?

    Moderate fitness is a good idea and will allow you to fully enjoy these activities, but is not essential. There’s no age limit to any of these activities. Kayakers need to be able to get themselves in and out of their kayak.

  • How large is the group size for each activity?

    The group size for each activity is always limited and depends on the activity and ship you choose. Typically kayaking is limited to only 10 - 14 people, so very select, while camping, snowshoeing and hiking groups tend to have approx. 20 - 30 people.

  • Do I need to book Adventure Activities in advance?

    Yes. Due to the limited spaces it's crucial to book your places at the same time as you book your cabin to avoid disappointment.

  • Do I need to bring any of my own kit?

    No, any specialist kit or clothing needed for any of these activities will be provided by the ship, with the exception of diving where you need to bring your own equipment, apart from weight belts and tanks.

  • Can I do more than one activity?

    Absolutely! Kayaking and camping combine really well. For those who want to get a taste of lots of different activities, this Antarctic Basecamp Adventure is ideal.

What else happens on an Expeditionary Cruise?

Read Swoop’s Guide to find out more about what you’ll do on an Antarctic cruise.

Find Out More

Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?



We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.



Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.



We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.

With over 50 years of Antarctic experience between us, we can help guide you to exactly the right trip for you.