Onshore activities in Antarctica to enjoy during your Polar Expedition

By admin / 09 February 2018

Onshore activities in Antarctica to enjoy during your Polar Expedition

Long gone are the days when a short hike was the extent of the shoreside itinerary. Now, a world of opportunity awaits onshore in Antarctica, here are some of the activities that you can do.

The variety of onshore activities in Antarctica has increased significantly in recent years, forming the backbone of most expedition cruises to the polar regions. Long gone are the days when a short hike was the extent of the shoreside itinerary. Now, a world of opportunity awaits onshore in Antarctica. 

Antarctica cruises have always provided the option of several landings each day, focusing on a variety of experiences such as wildlife viewing, historic sites, visits to scientific bases, scenic areas, glaciers and of course the aim of a continental landing. So long as the weather permits and it’s safe to disembark the ship, you can zip ashore to explore this vast glacial wilderness in all its glory. Traditionally, most people have been (and still are) content with the guided Zodiac boat excursions, followed by walks ashore. However, increasingly many vessels are offering more and more optional activities, for adventure seekers and especially-keen photographers.

Optional activities you can enjoy in Antarctica include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, snow-shoeing, hiking and climbing, cross-country skiing, snorkeling and diving, field photography and camping. Even cold-water swimming is making an appearance on one itinerary! All of the above is on top of the regular Zodiac cruises and landings, with time ashore to admire Antarctic wildlife and scenery. There’s something for everyone, so there’s no need to spend the entire duration of your polar expedition on board! 

Antarctic Wildlife viewing

From the ship and on very many landings, you will have the opportunity to see animals in Antarctica such as, whales, seals, penguins, sea birds, and many other species of wildlife from a completely unique vantage point. It’s an incredible experience and honour to watch them in their natural habitat. The diverse sea life of the Southern Ocean draws researchers, explorers, nature lovers, and photographers from all around the world. 

Kayaking in Antarctica 

One of the most popular onshore activities is kayaking. There’s nothing quite like paddling out in the peaceful Antarctic waters. The rugged snow-capped mountains, pristine stark-white shorelines, sublime glaciers, and formidable icebergs, varying hues of brilliant blue waters… Polar Kayaking is an amazing way to slip into the white and blue beauty of the quiet oceans around you and discover things from a unique perspective. Paddling in small groups with expert guides, glide between ice floes, brash ice, and icebergs dotted with wildlife. All equipment is supplied and you do not need to be an expert paddler, however, some prior paddling experience is recommended. 


Hiking and Snow-shoeing in Antarctica 

Available on many cruises, hiking onshore in Antarctica is the ideal activity for those looking for a good workout, though shorter gentle hikes are always offered too. Early in the season, snow-shoes assist in accessing deeper snow-covered terrain. Your efforts will be rewarded with ultimate views over the vibrant waters, glaciers, and icebergs below. It certainly beats your everyday hike in the countryside!  


Cross-country skiing in Antarctica 

If you’re looking to push the limits of your outdoor adventure experience, cross-country skiing in the unique Antarctic wilderness is the way to go. With pristine slopes, long daylight hours, unspoiled landscapes beyond your imagination, and no sound other than your skis gliding through the snow (and perhaps some penguin chatter from down along the shore), this is an unforgettable activity in which to partake in Antarctica. 


Camping on ice in Antarctica

A commonly-offered onshore activity in Antarctica, camping on ice is the best way to channel your inner explorer and soak in some solitude in this remote part of the world. An experience that truly breaks the mold of traditional cruise line activities – camping out under the Antarctic skies. Spend the evening under the soft glow of the clear Antarctic sky, snuggled in a sleeping bag as you drift off to the soothing sounds of the ocean, the splintering icebergs, and the pods of whales feeding in the bay—these are the very sounds from which relaxation soundtracks are made! The best part is waking up really early in the morning to the most remarkably sunrise imaginable, which many people miss when sleeping on the ship. 


How easy is it to get on and off of the ship? 

All of our small expedition ships are equipped with professional guides and Zodiac landing craft (a specially fabricated rubber inflatable boat). These allow for several landings each day in the most remote wilderness areas of Antarctica. Help to get in and out of the Zodiac landing craft will be given by the expedition staff. There are possible wet landings where you will be required to disembark the Zodiac into ankle-deep water, making rubber boots a necessary item!

Are there restrictions on onshore activities ashore?

An overriding concern on expedition cruises to Antarctica is safety - as well as the protection of the wildlife, environment, and cultures in any of the areas we visit. The expedition team will address conservation issues during the onboard briefings and they will also assist you onshore. The most important rules are: do not leave anything but footprints and do not take anything but memories. All group activities are conducted by expert guides to ensure safety for all participants. 

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