In case you’re looking for a less-than-conventional way to see the Antarctic Peninsula, one that is packed with adventure activities and one-of-a-kind experiences, Basecamp Antarctica might be the right choice for you. From spending a night camping on the ice surrounded by penguins to putting on crampons and scaling a snowy peak to kayaking next to a group of sleeping humpback whales, these expeditions provide you with an opportunity to connect with Antarctica in all of its splendor and majesty.
BaseCamp, as the name implies, is a voyage on which the ship establishes a BaseCamp each day by dropping anchor in different bays and fjords to engage in a variety of land- and water-based activities. All of the activities listed above are included in the price of most BaseCamp voyages, as well as camping, mountaineering, snowshoeing, and photography courses, among other things.
On most other Antarctica trips, each of these activities would incur an additional fee ranging from $100 to $1,000 USD per option, depending on the itinerary. During BaseCamp, all passengers have the opportunity to participate in each activity at least once during the course of the trip, provided that the weather permits. There is no requirement for previous experience, but you must be in good physical and mental health to participate in these activities. Kayaks, dry suits, crampons, sleeping bags, and tents are all provided onboard, as is all of the equipment you will require to participate. All but mountaineering boots are required if you wish to participate in the advanced mountaineering excursion, which is the only exception to this rule.
The operator conducts a sort of “lottery” during the first few days of the voyage, when the ship is crossing the Drake Passage, in order to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in each activity. Each passenger registers for the activities they wish to participate in and selects the day on which they wish to participate. Thus, each passenger is already aware of their “game plan” for the five or six days they will spend in Antarctica.
The fact that activities may have to be cancelled or postponed due to inclement weather should be kept in mind at all times. The operator makes every effort to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to go out, but in some cases, bad weather prevents a night on the ice or a day of kayaking.
Mountaineering is the only activity that is divided into groups based on prior experience, with two or three different groups for each level of experience. Prior experience with an ice ax and hiking with crampons is required in order to participate in the advanced group. A technical piece of clothing, such as a gore-tex jacket, is also advantageous. Regardless of your level of experience or equipment, you can still participate in one of the other groups, which will be less intense but just as spectacular as the main event.
A Couple of Pointers…
The operator provides a sleeping bag, a waterproof cover, and a sleeping pad for each person staying at the facility. In order to keep your body temperature stable during the night, it is important to dress in layers of clothing that are both warm and insulating. If you intend to photograph during the night, you will need a headlamp as well as extra camera batteries.
When kayaking, a small dry bag can be extremely useful for protecting your camera equipment. Because they are completely hands-free, GoPros are an excellent choice for this activity. Gloves that are resistant to water are also a good idea.
If you intend to join the advanced group, you will need to bring rigid mountaineering boots that are compatible with crampons from home, which you can purchase locally. A gore-tex jacket and a medium-sized backpack can also be useful additions to your travel luggage.