Reasons to go
- Discover Antarctica as part of a small, exclusive kayaking team
- One of the best ways to see curious wildlife, from whales passing a metre beneath you, to penguins porpoising beside your paddles
- Maximise your time off-ship by getting closer to your surroundings for longer
- Explore at your own pace, with your guide's help to interpret the icescape
Kayaking in Antarctica
What our customers think
Kayaking in South Georgia where there were fur seals swimming under the kayak and penguins porpoising by was a real treat. We did have some magic moments besides the wildlife – like paddling through crackling ‘bergy’ bits on a beautiful day or seeing glaciers calve not very far from our kayaks.
Cindy & Nor Washington February 2018
I’m so glad we kayaked: everyday finding ourselves engulfed by silence - nothing but the noise of slapping paddles, getting up front and personal with the whales. Watching the smile on my daughter’s face as she watched her dream come to fruition.
Sam UK December 2017
Highlights were pushing through the ice while circumnavigating Cuverville Island and poking our noses into the Southern Ocean swells at Deception Island. We felt well supervised at all times even though we weren't particularly experienced.
Mike and Jane UK February 2017
Taking the kayaking option was maybe one of the best choices I've made for this trip. Sport, landscape, an amazing group of 20 travelers. An amazing team! Being surrounded by 20 humpback whales, cruising 1 meter below your kayak.
Adrien France March 2017
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.
Declan UK December 2016
The highlight for me was being a part of our 9 person kayaking group plus two guides. We were able to paddle into small coves and the most magical of all was being near three feeding humpback whales and hearing their breathing as they rose up every few minutes.
Jane Alexander United States Of America February 2019
The highlights were seeing humpback whales at close quarters and paddling through brash ice.
Sandy & Tim UK January 2017
Having experienced the kayak program was the best thing about the trip. Kayaking gave us a pristine and uncluttered experience of Antarctica and allowed us to visit more than other tourists on our boat. You see all the things that the zodiacs see but also get a totally unique and pristine experience.
Kelly, Shannon and Robin Politte United States of America February 2019
Kayaking with humpback-whales, breaching, spouting - and only a few meters away was probably the highlight
Connie Parkinson New Zealand December 2018
Kayaking is so much fun, they teach you everything you need to know even though you know already how to kayak, just to be safe. But you don’t know about conditions in Antartica, so they teach it, its awesome fun. TRY IT!!
Raquel & David Shulman Canada December 2018
Kayaking was definitely a highlight. GO KAYAKING!!
Mohammed New York November 2016
Of the ten opportunities there were to kayak, I did eight in and around South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Everyone was great on the water, even those with lesser experience. The guides ensured that we could fulfil our dream of kayaking. The other two opportunities I passed on because I wanted to dedicate full time on the Continental landings.
Shane Dolan United States Of America December 2018
The scenery kayaking through some of the harbors seemed out of this world. We also saw orcas on multiple occasions with the pod coming right up to the ship.
Fifi Rawlins United States Of America January 2019
The kayaking guides did a great job and it felt very safe. The highlight was being so close to whales.
Ralph Pollack United States Of America February 2019
It was so much more than expected. Mountaineering was so satisfying, and kayaking was just so much fun.
Anh Luong United States Of America November 2016
One of the best moments while on the kayak was when we were surrounded by hundreds of gentoo penguins, which were in the water, swimming around us and jumping in and out of the water. Amazing experience.
Yevgeny Rhode Island November 2016
I loved it - it was the most amazing place I have ever been to - the boat was just right, the staff, the crew, the talks - and the kayaking was beyond sublime.
Richard & Claire UK January 2016
Kayaking in Antarctica
How does it work?
If you're part of the kayaking program, you'll be offered kayaking excursions as much as conditions allow, up to twice a day, and you can choose to take part in as many or as few as you like.
While the rest of the ship takes zodiacs out to landing sites, you'll typically set off a little earlier and paddle for 2-3 hours out to the landing site. You'll arrive to the landing site a little later, which means you can explore with fewer people around, but will have less time on land. For many, that's more than compensated for by the experience of paddling around bergy bits to get there!
What are the conditions like?
The waters around the Antarctic Peninsula are very protected, so more often than not conditions are perfect for paddling. Think glassy surface, clear waters, wildlife swimming under and around your kayak, and getting closer to icebergs than you'd thought was possible.
This is still Antarctica, and weather and ice conditions can change daily, so staying flexible is key (and very much all part of the adventure). Your kayaking guides are experienced and safety oriented, and you'll be kept informed as they monitor the surroundings.
You don't need to be able to do an eskimo roll to kayak in Antarctica, just some previous experience. The Peninsula's calm, protected waters make it very safe, and you'll always be accompanied by a guide and safety boat.
What does it cost?
Costs vary from $695 - $1,050 per person, depending on which ship you join. While this may seem high compared with the more modest price for camping, bear in mind that you only camp once, but could be out kayaking every day. The more often you join the kayaking excursions the more value you’ll get.
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 consider the Antarctic Basecamp Adventure, a voyage packed with adventurous activities.
I have to stop myself getting a bit spiritual when someone asks me about Antarctic kayaking. It's so quiet, paddling around icebergs and getting up close to wildlife. One whale was so close I nearly high-fived it as it rolled!
John Newby Polar Specialist
Antarctic Voyages with kayaking
With three medium-sized expedition ships and regular departure dates throughout the season, this well priced voyage is a popular option. Across striking landscapes and icy seas your company will include penguins, seals, whales and skuas. For the adventurous, optional kayaking…
Spending 5 full days exploring Antarctica, this voyage is recommended for travellers seeking a well appointed ship with an adventurous spirit. Additional benefits include a wide range of complimentary activities and a large expeditionary team, which ensures small groups and…
Geared for the adventurous traveller, this early season departure makes the most of the pristine spring snow conditions. Backcountry ski touring, snowshoeing and a unique overnight 2-day kayaking trip are all available while photographers will enjoy the soft light and…
Kayaking in Antarctica: FAQs
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.
Double kayaks are preferred over single kayaks as they are more stable. If you're traveling alone, your guide will assign you a kayaking partner. Anyone wishing to have their own kayak will have to demonstrate their competency first, and it’s at the kayaking guide’s discretion.
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
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.
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 paddled before as this isn't a 'beginner's course'.
In most occasions, 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 need to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, a warm hat and layers for under your suit.
When on the move, you may get warmer than you thought, so leave some extra layers on the safety zodiac boat to wear once you get onto shore.
More Adventure Activities in Antarctica
Camping in Antarctica
Fall asleep beneath the Antarctic night sky and wake up in the morning to an alien, glacial landscape, and maybe even an inquisitive penguin or two!
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling in Antarctica
Whether looking to dive or snorkel, you'll be introduced to a whole other world as you swim and gaze at the enchanting glacial underbelly of the Peninsula.
Hiking & Snowshoeing in Antarctica
Snowshoeing is an easy way of exploring the Antarctic Peninsula. For the more adventurous, try mountaineering and get a taste of the region's fantastic climbing opportunities.
Paddleboarding in Antarctica
Paddleboarding has taken the adventure world by storm and is one of the fastest growing sport activities, so why not in Antarctic? Boarding past icebergs, surrounded by magnificent…