Emperors & Explorers

Land Based Trips
South Pole and Emperor Penguins

Two extraordinary experiences in one action-packed adventure

Fly by ski aircraft to an Emperor penguin rookery on the remote, south coast of the Weddell Sea.  Here we set up camp for our small group and spend several days totally immersed in the activity of the rookery. Photograph majestic Emperors against a spectacular backdrop of ice cliffs, pressure ridges and icebergs. Fall asleep to a chorus of trumpeting calls and wake to find curious penguins outside your tent.

Camping on-site offers the freedom to enjoy the wildlife spectacle at your own pace with the support of our experienced Antarctic guides and staff naturalist, who will make sure we do not disturb the rookery. 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.

Next we fly to the South Pole by ski aircraft, covering in several hours the distance that took the early explorers years of planning and months of hardship to achieve. History comes alive as we stand at 90 South and imagine how they felt heading out across the frozen continent and into the unknown 100 years ago. We feel the spirit of determination and discovery that has inspired a century of Antarctic exploration and scientific research. And we sense that a journey to the South Pole is as significant today as it was so many years ago.

Accommodations

Union Glacier Camp
The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming at our main 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! Our 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.

Field Camps
Our 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. We sleep in mountaineering-style tents and eat a combination of fresh-frozen meals, prepared by our chefs at Union Glacier; and de-hydrated meals.

Day 1 – Fly to Antarctica

We board our chartered jet for the 4¼ hour flight to Antarctica. Our route crosses the Drake Passage, then follows the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the spine of the Ellsworth Mountains. We land on a naturally occurring blue-ice runway on Union Glacier where you will take your first steps on Antarctica.

Climb aboard one of our specially-adapted vans for the 5 mi (8 km) shuttle to our main camp. Our friendly staff will provide a welcome tour of camp and show you to your tent.

Day 2 – Explore Union Glacier

During your week stay in Antarctica, you’ll have multiple days to explore Union Glacier. Our meteorologists will carefully monitor the weather conditions and find the best day for your South Pole Flight.

A typical day at Union Glacier starts with a briefing after breakfast where you’ll meet with your guide to discuss the day’s options and choose an activity tailored to the weather and the group’s interests. Union Glacier excursions can include any of the following destinations:

Elephant’s Head
Ride in one of our vehicles to this dramatic marble buttress overlooking the blue-ice runway. Beautiful ice pools and moraines offer endless opportunities for photography. If you’re looking for something more active, you’ll have the opportunity to hike up to the base of Elephant’s Head or all the way to the top of Rhodes Bluff for panoramic views of Union Glacier and the Heritage Range.

Drake Icefall
Named in the 1960s after geologist Benjamin Drake IV, this impressive icefall tumbles off the polar plateau into Union Glacier. Winds from the South Pole carve huge waves into the blue-ice and polish the surface into a high shine.

Charles Peak Windscoop
Discover the power of wind on ice as you wander through a sparkling turquoise corridor. If you’re truly adventurous, this is a prime place to try ice climbing with one of our experienced guides. For the less vertically inclined, you can rock hunt to your heart’s content. Just remember to leave them in place, as nothing may be removed from Antarctica.

The Beach at Rossman Cove
Another spectacular setting for blue-ice photography and panoramic views! Take cross-country skis with you or a picnic lunch and enjoy Antarctica’s version of a glacial beach getaway.

Hidden Valley
Our staff’s favorite getaway—this secret canyon opens up to a beautiful valley prime for hiking, climbing, and backcountry skiing.

If you’d prefer to stay closer to camp, we have a variety of activities for all abilities. You can check out a pair of cross-country skis or a fat-tire bike and take a spin around our groomed 10k loop or you can enjoy a cup of tea, an Antarctic book, or fun game in our camp library.

In the evenings, we regularly offer lectures and films tailored to your experience. Before you depart for the colony, we will review the Emperor Penguin Colony Visitor Guidelines.

Day 3 – Fly to the Colony

As soon as weather conditions permit, we will fly to the colony. The flight takes about 4 hours, traveling north-eastward over the Ronne Ice Shelf and Berkner Island where we may stop to refuel if necessary.

We land on sea ice where our staff has prepared a field camp 1-2 mi (2-3 km) from the colony. Our Emperor Field Camp Manager will give you a tour of the camp and review safety procedures for travel to and from the colony.

Day 4 – Live with the Emperors

Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and rhythms of the colony. Walk to the colony with our experienced field guides to photograph penguins, seals, and seabirds. We provide small sleds and walking poles to help transport your camera equipment between camp and the colony. The sea ice generally provides a hard surface to walk on.

24-hour daylight allows us to adapt our schedule to the best weather and lighting for photography.

Day 5 – Return to Union Glacier

Our field staff will stay in close contact with Union Glacier Camp to identify the best ‘weather window’ for your return flight.

Days 6 to 8 – Explore Union Glacier

Depending on flights, you may have a few days at the end of your experience to explore more of Union Glacier. You will also enjoy a celebration dinner and receive a certificate to commemorate your Emperor Penguins Experience in Antarctica.

Fly to the South Pole
Once weather conditions permit, you will board our ski aircraft and head for the southernmost point on Earth! Your flight is planned to return the same day but we will bring food and camping equipment in the event weather conditions change and an overnight stay is necessary. Our guest services team will assist you in packing your sleeping bag.

The flight to the Pole will take between 4-6 hours depending on the aircraft. You’ll fly over the high, polar plateau, viewing wind affected snow called sastrugi, crevasse fields, and an endless expanse of white.

You’ll pass the Thiel Mountains approximately halfway to the Pole and continue to fly over the plateau. As you near 90° South, you will catch sight of the South Pole station, a cluster of buildings surrounded by snow and sky.

Our aircraft lands on a groomed ski-way and you’ll deplane near the South Pole marker. Here all 360 lines of longitude meet and beneath your feet the ice is almost 10,000 ft (3000 m) thick! You have joined an exclusive group of people who have journeyed this far south on our planet. Congratulations!

Day 9 – Return to Punta Arenas, Chile

When weather and runway conditions permit, our intercontinental aircraft will arrive at Union Glacier to transport you back to Chile. Our staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you back to your hotel.

NOTE:

Every effort will be made to keep to the scheduled flight date and we will depart as soon as weather and runway conditions permit. Please understand that delays are common in Antarctic travel. All flights are dependent on weather, aircraft serviceability, and local conditions. Our staff will stay in close contact with you and will provide you with regular flight updates.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Per Person USD
Rates 2016-2017
Price (US$)
Camp
$42,750Full
Camp
$71,250Limited
Camp
$48,150Full
Camp
$24,650Full
Camp
$48,150Limited
Camp
$48,150Full
Camp
$52,350Full
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Only show rates under
$ X
Please note that availability is updated about once a week.
Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.