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Night 4 – Polar Camping In Antarctica

As I had booked my Antarctic cruise last-minute, by the time I booked, the camping and kayaking options were filled.  Only 12 passengers could go kayaking and Quark Expeditions can only get a permit for 30 people to camp one time per cruise.

camping in antarctica

I had talked to Crazy Dave, who was in charge of the camping in Antarctica expedition and he said that I should still show up to the camping briefing and if anyone backed out, names would be drawn out of a hat to back-fill their slots.  So I went to the briefing, thinking in order to have a chance I’d have to play Tanya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan on a few enlisted campers as well as the 15 of us vying for the non-existent slot.

Apparently Dave did a good job making the camping sound brutal and three people backed out by the end of the briefing… and then my name was luckily drawn from a hat, I paid the money, signed my life away via a waiver and prepped for 10 hour night out on the ice of Ronge Island.

Camping in antarctica
Camping Group on Ronge Island

We got to decide whether we wanted to sleep in two person tents or open-faced bivouac sacks.  I chose the Bivy with sleeping bag, fleece liner and foam pad….  After an early dinner, we were taken by zodiac to Ronge Island where our camp would be located and picked a spot.  I chose this beachfront property and called it my own…

There are no trees in Antarctica, and obviously the guides wouldn’t want you wandering off when mother nature called, so they also built us these beautiful toilet half-igloos, but we had hell of a view while on the throne…

If you can’t see in the above picture, those were Waddell seals that kept us company on the beach that night…

It wasn’t so bad except for two things.  It never gets fully dark in Antarctica and it started to snow.  I didn’t mind the snow so much, nor the lack of darkness as I can sleep through practically anything however it was a bit annoying as the snow around my bivvy opening melted, droplets fell onto my face.  I awoke once at 1am to use the facilities… and all was calm, frosty and beautiful..

Most people were pretty happy to see the ship come back in the morning and were on the first zodiac back to the Sea Spirit.

Camping in antarctica

Some said they didn’t sleep at all, that they were kept up by the snow flakes falling on the nylon of their tents and bivvys, the sounds of the penguins, Waddell Seals and for the fear of a calving glacier burying them in their sleep….  I thought some of these things were a bit silly, but one thing we all agreed on, it was a great Antarctic adventure and we were glad we got to take part in the camping in Antarctica program.

//The I.A.