Whether you’re counting down the days until you set out on your Antarctic adventure or just daydreaming of icebergs and penguins from the comfort of your armchair, there is a host of podcasts out there to get you in an Antarctica state of mind.
We’ve sorted through the best Antarctica podcasts worth listening to. Just remember to download these to your device when you’re packing for your trip: it’s hard to stream podcasts in the Southern Ocean when internet access is limited!
The best podcasts to introduce you to Antarctica
For a wide-ranging introduction to the white continent, by far our favourite podcast series is A Voyage to Antarctica, produced by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust. Each episode features an interview with a polar scientist, explorer, conservationist writer or artist to look at Antarctica today through the lens of both the past and the future, building up to build a wide-ranging portrait of the continent. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify).
Antarctic Stories is another great interview podcast offering a wide range of polar stories. The host is a former polar guide, so there’s a strong travel angle to many of the episodes that will appeal to those who are thinking of planning an Antarctic cruise or are already anticipating their departure. If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts, we particularly recommend the episode on murky polar goings-on. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
If you’re looking for a more aesthetic experience from your podcasts, the short-but-sweet Voice of the Iceberg is a strangely compelling series following New Zealand artist Joseph Michael as he records the sound of icebergs. As you’d expect, it’s got great sound design – Antarctica rarely sounded this beautiful. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
If you just want a one-shot taste of Antarctica to squeeze into your listening schedule, we’d recommend the Antarctic episode of the BBC’s In Our Time, which tackles the continent’s history and science in a single 42-minute blast. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
The best podcasts about Antarctic history
The so-called Heroic Era of Antarctic exploration provides plenty of rich subject matter for history podcasts. Most famous of all is the epic tale of survival of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition. This story of a ship lost to the ice and desperate voyages in open boats across the stormiest seas on the planet is grippingly retold in the five-part Endurance: Surviving Antarctica. An extra edge is added by setting the drama alongside an account of three descendants of the crew attempting to walk to the South Pole exactly 100 years after the Endurance sank. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
Just how the Endurance sank and its wreck finally discovered in March 2022 is the subject of Dan Snow’s History Hit: Endurance22 (Apple Podcasts|Spotify). Public historian Dan Snow was part of the crew that set out to find Endurance, and the miniseries covers every aspect of the incredible search with an infectious on-the-spot enthusiasm. For a really deep dive (excuse the pun) on the practical challenges of finding a shipwreck 3000m below the sea ice, tune into the fascinating APM podcast interview with Nico Vincent, the Endurance22 mission’s subsea project manager. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
Shackleton survived despite never reaching the South Pole; Captain Scott famously suffered the opposite outcome. The three-part Tim Harford’s Cautionary Tales: South Pole Race takes an engaging look at the battle of national pride and technique between Scott and his rival Roald Amundsen, to tease out what lessons can be learned from the Norwegian’s easy success and the Briton’s desperate failure. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify). It’s still possible to visit Scott’s expedition hut on Ross Island today: to learn more about how it has been preserved, check out the New Zealand Heritage Trust podcast on the subject. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
The best podcasts about Antarctic science
Antarctica Unfrozen is our pick of the laboratory’s best, with in-depth interviews every episode with scientists from every branch of the discipline: from oceanographers, glaciologists and ecologists, to chemists, whale and penguin scientists and even some of the technicians who work behind the scenes to keep the research bases up and running. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
Curiously Polar is a discussion podcast with a semi-rotating panel of hosts talking through the latest news in polar science. As their podcast logo suggests, they look north to the Arctic as well as to the far south, and aren’t afraid to tackle some of the wider geopolitical concerns affecting these regions. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
If whales are your thing, tune into the long-running Whale Nerd’s Podcast. This covers whales the world over in a loose conversational style by its marine biologist and photographer hosts, with Southern Ocean cetaceans a frequent topic of discussion. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
The best podcasts about Antarctic adventure
Just as Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton were drawn south more than a century ago, Antarctica today remains a testing ground for modern expeditions. Richard Parks: Antarctica follows one extreme athlete’s attempts to ski solo to the South Pole. Coverage and comment from the support team adds a depth that goes beyond just one man’s slog against the snow. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
Standing in stark contrast is This Is Our Time, a two-series podcast about an all-woman scientific expedition to Antarctica to the remote Rothera research station. Interviews and audio diaries richly fill out the story, presenting contrasting scientific and personal endeavours with a satisfying emotional resonance. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
The best of the rest
Put Antarctica in the search engine of any podcast service and you’ll come back with dozens of results – an alarming number of which focus on conspiracy theories about UFOs and hidden cities frozen under the ice. Here are some of the better flying saucer-free alternatives to round up your polar playlist:
Two short-lived podcasts worth dipping into are Iceworld, produced by the British Antarctic Survey about their work there (Apple Podcasts|Spotify), and Antarctic Report, which covers different aspect of polar science and culture. We wish both series had more episodes to enjoy. (Apple Podcasts|Website)
Detour Antarctica from the New Zealand Herald was prompted by one of their journalists getting stranded in a cruise ship off Punta Arenas at the start of the pandemic, with a series of polar stories told with a journalist’s ear for detail. (Apple Podcasts|Spotify)
Finally, history buffs might take a listen to Ice Coffee, which explores the history of human activity in Antarctica. With more than 130 episodes, there’s enough listening here to fill a long Antarctic winter. (Apple Podcasts|Website)