Camping in Antarctica…Awkward or Amazing?
The thought of camping always makes me feel like crumpled, slightly damp clothing in a suitcase after a long-haul flight. My friends know not to invite me to camping trips. I don’t camp. Period. Unless it is on the white continent, buried in snow, without a tent.
Last year, I did the Base Camp tour to Antarctica
We boarded the mv Ortelius in Ushuaia and crossed the notorious Drake passage, facing 10 meter waves. Luckily, we reached the Antarctica in one piece. Our first landing spot was Paradise Bay which looks like this.
The Best Spot for Camping in Antarctica is Leith Cove
Leith Cove is about 2 miles away from where our ship was anchored in Paradise Bay. Before dinner we packed our multiple layered bivy bags. I’m not familiar with the technical terms (seeing as I don’t camp. period.), but it basically consisted of the following:
- A silver mattress to protect against hypothermia
- A normal camping mattress
- An inner sleeping bag
- A slightly thicker outer sleeping bag
- A very sturdy every-thing proof outer sleeping bag
- A sleeping bag stuff sack
Try getting all of that into a bag is like trying to stuff a circus tent into a bag.
After dinner we headed out to Leith Cove
Hearts full of anticipation, we took a zodiac ride to the cove. On our way we saw a stray Adelie penguin trying to hitch a ride.
When we reached Leith Cove we had to dig a shallow grave to nest in for the night. Our team decided to build a fortress instead which involved building a snow wall to protect us against the prevailing wind. After wandering around the island for a bit we prepared our bivy bags. We took of our outer layers and hid it in the outer shell and our mid-layers were tucked in our sleeping bags to remain warm during the night. It was actually quite cozy in the sleeping bag.
For me it was an amazing experience. I’ve never seen so much snow and as we lay in our bags snow started falling onto our faces. I relished the experience, but after a while I zipped up the bag to protect my face, leaving just enough space for fresh air to enter my mummy cocoon.
Early the next morning we had to leave our warm nests
Getting back into your cold outer layers was not fun, but we knew we had another day of penguin watching, birding and seal spotting ahead of us in Paradise Bay. Which also looks like this:
Later that afternoon, I got to kayak in this gorgeous bit of the world… a perfect ending to an amazing Base Camp tour to Antarctica.
Life List Entry: Camped in Antarctica
By the way, if you do like camping, I have friends with a wonderful blog that’s full of camping, trekking and budget travel information