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
What our customers think
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
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
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
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, Hugh & Sofie, UK December 2017
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
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
The highlights were seeing humpback whales at close quarters and paddling through brash ice.
Sandy & Tim, UK January 2017
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 was definitely a highlight. GO KAYAKING!!
Mohammed, New York November 2016
How does it work?
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.
Being able to kayak in Antarctica doesn't require the ability to do an eskimo roll, just some previous experience. The Peninsula's calm, protected waters make it very safe while you will always be accompanied by a guide.
Antarctic Voyages with Kayaking
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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
FAQs: Kayaking in Antarctica
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.
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 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.
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.
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