Skip to main content

Camping in Antarctica: Here’s What You Need to Know

Imagine waking up in Antarctica - not in your comfortable cabin, but laying in the snow as the glistening sun reflects off icebergs. 

As you sit up and look around, you notice a sleeping seal on an iceberg, just offshore — yes, it sounds like a crazy place to spend the night, but that’s what makes camping in Antarctica so unique!

Whether you think the idea of sleeping outdoors in Antarctica is completely crazy — or the best thing ever — camping in Antarctica is one of the most popular excursions with travellers to the Peninsula.

If you love the outdoors and want to make the most out of your trip, here’s everything you need to know about camping in Antarctica.

Why go ice camping in Antarctica?

One of the best reasons to camp in Antarctica is that it’s an immersive experience that gives you more time on land than any other activity. While normal daily excursions may last 1-2 hours, camping provides up to 8-10 hours on land. This means tons of time to observe wildlife, watch icebergs, or admire the constantly changing landscapes. 


penguins in Antarctica
If you're keen to see lots of Antarctic wildlife, camping might be perfect for you. 

Away from the ship (and from civilisation!), camping is such a unique experience that allows you to experience Antarctica in all its glory. From observing wildlife to watching the golden colours of sunrise as you lay in your bivy bag, surrounded by ice and nature, this is Antarctica as it was truly intended.

Chimu’s Product Manager Emma McCormick recently went camping on her Ocean Endeavour voyage and it was a highlight of her trip. “It was such an amazing experience watching the ship head off and setting up for the night on the snow. When we were there the sun never went down, but we got these amazing orange and pink hues in the sky. Listening to the glaciers calving and seeing how excited everyone was to be in Antarctica was magical.

During the evening two whales came into the bay next to us – a mum and her baby and I woke up to about eight penguins waddling about two metres away from me. This was one of the most memorable experiences I had in Antarctica and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend camping to anyone!”


happy campers in Antarctica
Another bonus of camping - you'll meet lots of likeminded friends. 


Best time of year for camping in Antarctica

Camping is available in the Antarctic summer months, November-March, on selected voyages.

Since camping isn't always available, and can also be weather-dependent, check with your Destination Specialist or travel advisor at the time of booking if you want to add camping to your trip.


Antarctic pre-camping briefing
Your experienced expedition staff will provide a full briefing at your camping site. 

How ice camping works

Prior to the night, all campers will be given a thorough briefing with their expedition team, which will provide details on what to wear, how camping works, and what to expect.

On the night of camping, after a hearty dinner, the camping passengers will be given a time and place on the ship to meet, dressed and ready to go. The excitement and anticipation are all part of the fun, with campers eager (and maybe a little nervous!) to set out on their adventure. You'll also be provided with a padded sleeping mat and a bivy bag, a large, insulated sleeping bag

Travelling by zodiac, groups of campers will make their way off the ship and onto the camping landing site, which won’t be too far away. Then, they'll start setting up their campsites, but the method of camping offered will vary based on the ship.

Some ships offer tented camping in Antarctica, while others, like the Ocean Endeavour, offer open camping. Campers will dig a hole in the snow for their mat and bivy bag, which will be your home for the night! Many campers prefer this method of sleeping outdoors, as part of the fun of camping in Antarctica is enjoying the sights, colours, and wildlife, which you wouldn’t be able to see from inside a tent. 

campers in Antarctica
The adventure of camping in Antarctica is something you'll never forget. 


Whether you want to fall asleep to the sounds of crackling ice, or stay up all night and take it all in, the choice is yours! In the Antarctic summer months, you have close to 24 hours of daylight, so it’s easy to stay awake and soak up all the beauty of this unbelievably unique environment.

And if nature calls? Not to worry — there’s even a portable toilet available for use.

In the morning, you’ll be transported back to the ship in time for breakfast, a great time to share stories with everyone onboard! And if you want to take a quick nap before the day’s first excursion, there’s time for that too. 

camping in Antarctica
Antarctic campers setting up for the night. 

What to wear when camping in Antarctica

Layers are key to staying comfortable on your camping adventure, as all of the other gear will be provided to you.

“You are given sleeping bags and a mat and an outer waterproof layer that zips up completely to keep you warm”, says McCormick.

While your team will provide you with a full briefing about what to wear, plan on thick socks and gloves, a hat, waterproof pants, and your outerwear parka. If you know you feel the cold more than others, a few additional wool or fleece layers may be helpful. 




Do I need to book camping in advance?

Yes! As one of the most popular optional activities, along with kayaking and photography, camping places are limited and can be booked out months before each voyage. If camping is important to you, reserve your place when you book your cruise. However, there are wait lists onboard, so you can sign up on the ship, but it’s not guaranteed that a place will open up.

What happens if the weather isn’t great?

Antarctica camping is a weather-dependent activity. If there are high winds, precipitation, or extremely cold temperatures, it won’t go ahead, for the comfort and safety of guests and crew.

If inclement weather means camping can’t go ahead, your crew will do their best to reschedule for another night. If this isn’t possible, guests will receive a full refund.

Is camping in Antarctica safe?

While the thought of spending a night in such a remote place can be intimidating, camping in Antarctica is very safe. You’ll also never be alone, as your expedition crew and fellow travellers will always be nearby.

In case of an emergency, the camping expedition crew is also in constant radio communication with the ship.

How much does ice camping cost?

Each tour operator will set their own costs, so the camping in Antarctica price will vary, depending on the ship you’re travelling on. Contact your Chimu Destination Specialist or travel advisor and they can provide more information.

I want to camp, but am worried I’ll get too cold!

You might be surprised, but camping on the ice isn’t as cold as you might expect. Your waterproof bivy bag keeps you very warm, and as long as you’re dressed appropriately, you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Antarctic camping only occurs in good weather conditions, so you won’t be left out there in high winds or heavy snow!

Do I need previous camping experience?

Not at all! Your experienced expedition crew will brief you on everything you need to know and will also be at the campsite with you throughout the night. This experience appeals to both beginner and experienced campers alike, but no previous camping knowledge is needed. 

Ready to have the camping adventure of a lifetime? If so, we have a range of Antarctic cruises that offer camping programs or contact us to find out more.


Written By Katie
Scroll to Top