Five Reasons to Experience the Antarctic Interior
- Join a select few who have travelled to this remote and pristine region
- Achieve the South Pole, either by plane, on skis or by foot
- Experience the true vastness and beauty of Antarctica's polar plateau
- Follow in the footsteps of polar explorers and adventurers
- The only guaranteed way to spend extended time with Emperor penguins
Trips to the Antarctic Interior
Exploring the Antarctic Interior: FAQs
The logistical complexity of organising these trips -enormous distances, lack of services and extreme weather - is baffling. From the tip of South America to Union Glacier Camp is further than London to St. Petersburg or Los Angeles to Chicago. A large transport plane, the size of a Boeing 767, capable of covering this distance and suited to off-strip landings, is chartered for the duration of the Antarctic summer. Even within Antarctica distances are enormous, requiring air travel and fuel caching. Two or more twin engine ski aircraft are chartered for the season, for flights beyond Union Glacier Camp.
Being Antarctica, there are no inherent facilities here, so the operation is entirely self-supporting, flying in all of the equipment, fuel, and food needed from South America.
All accommodation is double-occupancy, so you will be paired with another Antarctic traveller of the same gender - no single supplement is charged.
The Antarctic travel season runs through the Austral summer (November through January) when the weather is at its best. The Antarctic interior is a cold desert climate - dry and windy. Average mid-season temperatures at Union Glacier Camp (the basecamp) can range from -12C to -4C (10F to 25F). On a sunny, windless day it can feel quite warm, but when hit with a true Polar gust you'll be glad to have as many warm layers on as possible. Temperatures in early November can fall as low as -30C (-22F).
Emperor Penguins Camp: Being close to the Weddell Sea, the weather here is highly variable. Temperatures can range from a chilly -30C to a comparatively mild 0C (-22F to 32F).
Mount Vinson: Climbers should prepare for and expect extreme temperatures of around -40C (-40F) and severe storms.
The South Pole: Temperatures here rarely climb above -25C (-13F). With windchill, it can feel like -40C (-40F).
The snow around Union Glacier camp is generally firm and fine for walking. This is also true of the South Pole and the Emperor penguin camp. The snow on Mt Vinson is generally quite firm and good for climbing with crampons. Skis are primarily for recreational use, and visitors do not have to ski as a pre-requisite to the interior. However, if you are keen on a ski ascent and are an experienced ski-mountaineer, then this can be arranged.
The itineraries on our website are an example meant to give an idea of what these trips might entail. However, the weather is the ultimate arbiter of what is possible. As a result, flight schedules are flexible and you should expect and prepare for possible delays.
Poor weather days at Union Glacier Camp provide opportunities for talks and skills sessions on Antarctic themes such as navigation, crevasse rescue, cold weather injury, communications and meteorology. Ad-hoc talks by visiting scientists, expedition teams and other guest-experts are always popular. Games, jigsaw puzzles and DVD's provide diversion. Or you can delve into the library of Antarctic books and light novels.
Unless you're going on the Camp with Emperor Penguins trip (in which case you'll see lots of penguins, seals and seabirds), then you're not likely to see much in the way of wildlife. The Antarctic interior is an icy desert. Whilst majestic in its proportions, it is devoid of the vegetation necessary to support wildlife.
No. Penguins, seals and other Antarctic wildlife need to conserve energy in order to survive and raise their young. It is essential that you keep your distance and avoid causing them stress. All Antarctic wildlife are protected under the Antarctic Treaty and visitors may not touch, feed or disturb them in any way. Please see IAATO's Emperor Penguin Viewing Guidelines.Your guide will also explain the wildlife watching procedures and will help you to follow them in the field.
Swoop Antarctica & The Economist
"If before I had been looking for a more profound connection with the landscape - and had been frustrated - I was now humbled by its immensity: the air caught in the ice was 800,000 years old, as old as the first hominid footprints outside Africa."
Sophy Roberts, The Economist