Live with Emperor penguins!

Emperors and Explorers: Union Glacier Camp


Fly to an Emperor penguin rookery on the remote Antarctic coast and spend several days immersed in the wildlife activity. Photograph the majestic Emperors against a spectacular backdrop of ice bergs. Fall asleep to a chorus of trumpeting calls, and wake to find curious visitors outside your tent. Then fly to the Geographic South Pole, the most remote destination on Earth. Contemplate the heroic explorers who crossed this frozen continent more than 100 years ago. Feel the significance of this place and of your journey. Walk around the world and savour the moment

  • Fly to Antarctica and spend time an unique and beautifully located base camp
  • Fly by ski aircraft to an Emperor penguin rookery on the remote, south coast of the Weddell Sea.
  • Camping on-site near an emperor penguin colony
  • Astonishing photographic opportunities
  • Experienced Antarctic guides and staff naturalist
  • Fly to the geographic South Pole by ski aircraft
  • Feel the spirit of discovery that has inspired Antarctic exploration and scientific research.

Stewart's Take

This authentic safari offers more than just wildlife viewing. You will literally live with the Emperors and witness first-hand their amazing adaptation to the Antarctic environment.


Fly to an Emperor penguin rookery on the remote Antarctic coast and spend several days immersed in the wildlife activity. Photograph the majestic Emperors against a spectacular backdrop of ice bergs. Fall asleep to a chorus of trumpeting calls, and wake to find curious visitors outside your tent. Then fly to the Geographic South Pole, the most remote destination on Earth. Contemplate the heroic explorers who crossed this frozen continent more than 100 years ago. Feel the significance of this place and of your journey. Walk around the world and savour the moment.
Day 1 – Fly to Antarctica Fly from Chile to Antarctica by private transport jet. Land on ice runway. Settle in at Union Glacier Camp. Day 2 Acclimatize to Antarctica Today is an easy day to acclimatize to Antarctic conditions. We will have an orientation to camp and life in Antarctica, review expedition logistics with our guide, and enjoy a presentation by our staff naturalist about coastal wildlife and wildlife viewing procedures. Days 3-5 Living with the Emperor penguins After a leisurely breakfast we pack up and fly by ski aircraft to the remote south coast of the Weddell Sea. We land on multi-year sea ice near the Emperor rookery and our guides set up a cozy field camp beside the aircraft. The rest of the day is ours to explore and we have our first audience with the Emperors. Experience the rhythms of the rookery at your own pace over the next three days. Take guided walks with our ANI naturalist or do your own thing. Meal times are flexible so you can photograph and explore when the lighting and mood are just right. Meals are prepared by our guides and include hot meals and portable snacks. Watch adults display and feed their young. Listen to trumpeting and whistling calls as parents and chicks search for one another. If lucky, we'll photograph Weddell seals lazing by tide cracks. And at each step we'll marvel at the magnificence of where we are. Each night, fall asleep to the mingled calls of thousands of Emperors. At the end of our third day we pack-up the aircraft and fly back to Union Glacier Camp. Day 6 Union Glacier We take a day to enjoy the comforts of Union Glacier Camp and prepare for the next leg of our journey. Day 7 In the footsteps of the Explorers Today we fly to the South Pole, the holy grail of polar explorers. A 4-5 hr flight brings us to our destination and as we step off the aircraft, we are immediately struck by the significance of this place and our journey. We have arrived at the heart of the 7th continent and at the axis of the earth. Here all 360 lines of longitude meet and the ice is nearly 10,000 ft (3,000m) thick. This last great geographical prize captured the imagination of a generation of explorers, who suffered extreme hardship and even gave their lives to claim it as their own. We will take plenty of time for photographs and reflection at the Geographic South Pole and at the colorful Ceremonial Pole which commemorates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. Inside Amundsen-Scott station we will see what it is like to live at the South Pole and learn what makes the South Pole a unique scientific laboratory. After our visit we re-board the ski aircraft and return to Union Glacier Camp, where we will toast our achievement and enjoy a celebration meal prepared by our chefs. The South Pole has been designated an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA #5) to conserve the environmental, scientific and historical values of the area. We ask for your cooperation in respecting visitor guidelines during any time we may spend at the South Pole. Day 8 Union Glacier On our final day we have a chance to explore scenic Union Glacier. This day also provide a second opportunity for our South Pole flight, in case of poor weather on Day 7. Day 9* Return to Punta Arenas, Chile The aircraft from Punta Arenas will arrive with a new collection of avid explorers and you depart for the final leg of your Antarctic experience. The staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel. * Schedule No two Antarctic experiences are exactly the same. This is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. The itinerary above highlights typical activities and experiences. Exact timeline and details will vary from trip to trip. Trip length may vary by departure Please anticipate delays and do not plan anything for at least a week after your scheduled return. Allow yourself to enjoy this unique experience without the stress of pending commitments.

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Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica

This unique Antarctic campsite is located in the remote, southern Ellsworth Mountains, on the broad expanse of Union Glacier. This is the only facility of its kind in Antarctica. The full-service camp operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January). The camp maintains and operates an ice runway, a separate skiway and an efficient logistics hub to provide support to private expeditions and National Antarctic Programs. Union Glacier Camp is only accessible by air and your journey begins with a 4 ¼ hour flight from Punta Arenas, Chile. The wheeled aircraft lands on a naturally-occurring ice runway on the Union Glacier, where you take your first steps in Antarctica. Climb aboard one of the specially adapted vans for the 5 mile (8km) ride to camp, where a warm welcome awaits you.

The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming at the Antarctic camp at Union Glacier. You’ll find roomy, double occupancy sleeping tents; a spacious dining hall; fresh delicious meals; and a spectacular setting. You’ll be surprised how comfortable Antarctica can be! This full-service camp is designed for Antarctic conditions and with best environmental practices in mind. It operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January) and is dismantled at the end of each season.

The setting is spectacular. The accommodation spacious and comfortable. The meals fresh and delicious. The service and support unparalleled. Majestic peaks rise in all directions offering plenty of opportunities for scenic excursions, technical climbs and ski tours. At camp there is little wind, providing a comfortable environment to relax and take it all in.

At each turn a new experience awaits. Take in wide open vistas from the top of Charles Peak. Explore ice pools in the Elephant Head Valley. Ramble along multi-colored Spectrum Ridge. Cross country ski over frozen fields of sastrugi. Photograph wind sculpted clouds, unusual snow features and a thousand shades of white. Navigate using GPS. Carve snow sculptures. Or simply relax and take it all in. For the more adventurous, try ice climbing on the massive windscoop surrounding Charles Peak, scramble up the serpentine Ridge of Mount Rossman or camp out on the polar plateau.

Two twin-engine, ski aircraft transport passengers, cargo and fuel beyond Union Glacier Camp. The ski aircraft park to one side of camp and use a separate skiway.

Field Camps

The Gould Bay (Emperor Penguin), ski expedition, climbing and other field camps are more basic. Equipment must be lightweight and portable, yet still strong enough to withstand Antarctic conditions. You sleep in mountaineering-style tents and eat a combination of fresh-frozen meals, prepared by the chefs at Union Glacier; and de-hydrated meals.

For full information about Union Glacier Camp click here:

  • All transfers between the airport and your hotel in Punta Arenas, Chile upon arrival and departure
  • Round trip flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier, Antarctica
  • All scheduled, group flights within Antarctica as specified in the experience itinerary
  • All meals and tented accommodations while in Antarctica
  • Support of camp staff, field guides, lecturers, and medics while in Antarctica
  • Celebration dinner and certificate of achievement upon completion of your experience
  • Daily excursions and activities around Union Glacier
  • Use of recreational equipment around Union Glacier including fat-tire bikes and cross-country skis
  • Insurance coverage – personal, medical, evacuation, or otherwise
  • Commercial flights to and from Punta Arenas, Chile
  • Airport transfers outside of Punta Arenas
  • Meals and accommodations in Punta Arenas, Chile
  • Additional expenses incurred in Punta Arenas due to delays
  • Additional flights within Antarctica other than those specified in the experience itinerary
  • Personal clothing and equipment
  • Excess luggage over the specified limit for your experience
  • Satellite phone charges
Deposits Reservations require a deposit of US$5000 per person at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card. Bookings within 90 days of departure require full payment. A number of mandatory forms will also need to be completed and will be sent to you following deposit. Final Payments Balances are due 90 days prior to departure and may be paid by bank transfer. Cancellations All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 90 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less a fee of $1000 per person. If cancellation occurs less than 90 days prior to departure, all payments are forfeited. If full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and any unpaid balance is due immediately. We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance. Booking Terms Please read carefully the Terms and Conditions for Expeditions Online (link at the bottom of this page). This expedition is operated by Adventure Network International and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking.
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