Are your trips strenuous? Do I need any special skills?

Our fly-in adventures are very do-able for anyone with average fitness and good health. You do not require any special skills, previous cold weather or camping experience. However, you should expect to walk on uneven, sometimes slippery snow and ice surfaces. Reasonable mobility helps you step up and over tent doorways, climb steps into ski aircraft and move about when wearing bulky clothing layers.

What is the average age on your trips? Where do people come from?

Our guests typically range in age from early 30’s to late 70’s, with the majority from 40 to 70 years old. They come from around the world, are well traveled and adventurous and have a strong interest in remote regions.

Do you accept minors?

We do not generally accept guests under 16 years old because of the harsh and remote Antarctic environment in which we operate.

Where does my trip start? How Do We Get To Antarctica?

All of our trips start in Punta Arenas, Chile at the southern tip of mainland South America.

We fly by private transport jet from Punta Arenas, Chile to the main camp on Union Glacier, Antarctica. The distance is 1870 miles (3010 km) and the flight takes about 4 ¼ hours. We maintain a glacier ice runway for landing wheeled aircraft at Union Glacier. Travel beyond our main camp is by twin engine, ski equipped aircraft.

Will it be cold?

All of our journeys take place in the Antarctic summer (November through January) when the weather is at its best. We advise on suitable clothing so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

The interior of Antarctica has a cold, dry, windy climate. Average mid-season temperatures at our base camp range from 10F to 25F (-12C to -4C ). On a sunny windless day it can feel quite warm but, when the wind blows, you will be glad of warm layers and a wind jacket. Temperatures can drop as low as -22F (-30C) in early November.

  • At the South Pole temperatures rarely climb above -13F (-25C) with light winds and wind chill of -40F (-40C).
  • Weather at the Emperor rookery is highly variable and influenced by coastal systems. Temperatures range from -22F (-30C) to near 32F (0C) with sunny and overcast skies and the possibility of heavy snowstorms.

Will we be living at altitude?

Our main Antarctic camp on Union Glacier is at 2,297 ft (700m) above sea level. Local peaks are around 6,500 ft (2000m), not high enough to experience any altitude-related issues. Altitude is a consideration on higher peaks, on the polar plateau and at the South Pole, especially if arriving by aircraft with no acclimatization. Also, because of reduced atmospheric pressure at the Pole, the physiological altitude (how it feels) will be higher.

South Pole elevation is 9,300 ft (2835m). Physiological altitude is approximately 11,000 ft (3350m)

The summit of Mount Vinson is 16,050 ft (4892m). Physiological altitude is approximately 18,000 ft (5486m). You will spend several days above 10,000 ft (3048m) while climbing the mountain.

Is it hard to sleep with 24-hour daylight?

Most people find they are not bothered by the 24-hour daylight and have no difficulty sleeping. However, you may wish to bring an eyeshade such as those provided on airlines.

How is the food? Can You Cater to Special Dietary Requests?

In a word, delicious. Our guests always compliment us on the meals prepared by our experienced international chefs at Union Glacier Camp. We regularly fly in fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and fish from Chile and maintain an ample stock of pastas, grains and other staples in our ice cave. Dinners are accompanied by wine and beer.

Please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions. At Union Glacier Camp we offer a variety of foods at each meal including a non-meat option. Due to our remote location and the limitations of our kitchen and dining facilities, we regret we are unable to cater to people who have severe food allergies or require strict separation of foods for other reasons.

How warm is my tent?

Sleeping tents are passively warmed by the sun. Temperatures will vary depending on the time of day, weather and the type of the tent.

Larger “clam” tents can warm to between 60F and 68F (15C and 20C) during the daytime, a comfortable temperature when wearing thermal and fleece layers. Temperatures are cooler on cloudy, stormy days and and may drop to near freezing at 'night', when the sun is less intense. You will sleep snugly in your polar-rated sleeping bag whatever the temperature.

Small, mountain tents used in field camps can be 80F (25C) on a sunny, windless day - almost too warm to be inside! Again, inside temperatures are cooler on cloudy, stormy days, when the ambient air temperature is very low, or when the sun drops behind a mountain ridge (e.g. at Mount Vinson).

What about toilet facilities?

All human waste is removed from Antarctica for disposal in Chile. Our systems are designed to facilitate waste handling and proper waste disposal. Union Glacier Camp has men's and women's toilets housed in solid structures. They are basic but clean. Field toilets are more basic and may include a 'loo with a view' (an outdoor toilet with privacy wall) or a toilet tent.

Can I shower or bathe?

We try to minimize the amount of residue (grey) water we generate in Antarctica, in keeping with our mission to set the highest possible environmental standards, and we believe our guests, like our staff, are willing to work with us to achieve this goal.

  • Anti-bacterial hand-gel is available for hand cleaning
  • Many guests bring pre-moistened towellettes for a quick freshen-up
  • There is a shower for Guests’ use. Availability of showers is limited to conserve water, fuel for snow melt and to reduce grey water
  • Sponge bathing with a small quantity of water is also possible

Are there risks?

Travel to remote and undeveloped regions poses inherent risks and Antarctica is no exception. We have a long-term track record of responsible operations and effective emergency response that is looked upon favorably by National Antarctic Operators. Our careful and considered approach, based on years of experience, ensures that risks are minimized.

Do I need travel insurance?

All guests are required to provide cover for medical evacuation, due to the high cost of evacuation from Antarctica.

We also strongly recommend that you consider Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance, to protect you in case you need to cancel for any reason. The Experiences are non-refundable within 90 days of departure.

I'm not sure I have the correct equipment?

We provide detailed clothing and equipment lists for all of our Experiences. If you still have questions after reading our equipment lists and overview just drop us a line and we will be more than happy to help.

Can I rent clothing from you?

Guests on non-technical Experiences have the option to rent custom-designed Antarctic parka and windpants, boots and polar sleeping bag from us. This may be the most practical option if you think you will not use these specialized items again. Please let us know well in advance if you would like to rent any items, as we have limited stocks and items are available on a first-come first-served basis. Our rental clothing is not suitable for technical climbing and ski expeditions.