Guide to Antarctic accommodation, from limited to luxurious


The world’s most isolated, southern and deserted continent, Antarctica is known for its outstanding qualities, be it the coldest, driest, iciest or windiest country. About 98℅ of this country is covered with snow, attracting everyone due to its impressive weather conditions and enchanting lonely beauty. As a sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, this place is synonymous with adventure.

After a visit to this extraordinary place, finding accommodation can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve rounded up a few options ranging from luxury to limited accommodation. Depending on your budget and interests, you can choose from luxury lodges, luxury cruises, expedition cruises and camps for outdoor adventures.

Whichaway Camp – Luxury Lodge

The only luxury lodge on the Antarctic continent that offers all the dazzling amenities both inside and out of the lodge. The pioneer of this camp is White Desert, which also has a private jet service with access to the interior of Antarctica. It is considered a 5 hour Gulfstream flight and connects Cape Town directly to whichaway Camp. Nestled at the base of a 200 foot wall of ice, whichaway camp nestles near a frozen lake.

amenities included

It has six private and three communal domes that serve as a reception, lounge and dining room. It was stacked with luxury, especially with its dining element. Chef Janna Viney is known for serving alfresco full English breakfasts, seafood, steaks and champagne lunches. The restaurant also offers premium drinks. Apart from that, the lodge has its own sauna. With their “Eco Sleeping Pod Cabins”, their rooms are equipped with warm textiles, fur blankets, efficient heating, a desk, natural wood floors and a well-equipped washroom.

activities provided

It also includes an “Ice & Mountains Adventure Program” by whichaway. The program begins with a charter jet ride to Wolf’s Fang Blue Ice in the Drygalski Mountains. After spending the day amidst the peaks, a 25-minute evening flight brings you back to the lodge. One can choose between adrenaline pumping activities such as mountaineering, kite skiing, abseiling or trekking to electric blue ice tunnels, glacier trips or visiting scientific research facilities. One of the unique attractions is exploring a penguin colony with 6000 penguins in Atka Bay and also polar research.

Incidental costs & operating hours

The current cost per person for seven days is about $96000 per person. Due to the Antarctic, it only operates from November to January.

Related: 9 Things Argentina Is Known For (And Why You’ll Want to Visit It)

Gould Bay Camp – Affordable accommodation

Gould Bay Camp in the Weddell Sea is a cheaper alternative. It is a tented camp above a luxury lodge which makes a good base camp for visiting the penguin colony nearby. This camp’s location is its unique selling point being 420 miles from Union Glacier making it a remote camp.

amenities included

Amenities aren’t lavish, but simple and functional. There is an option to stay in either single occupancy 4-season mountain tents or double occupancy tents used by ski expedition teams. An insulated sleeping pad and polar sleeping bag are provided to warm the ambiance. Breakfast includes pancakes, bacon, oatmeal, hot soups, cold meats with cheese. Beverages such as wine, juice, beer are also available.

Field toilets are regularly disinfected and waste disposed of at Union Glacier Camp, while toilet bags and urine bottles are required to be used at the penguin colony. Also, there are no showers in this camp. Alternatively, wet wipes are provided.

activities provided

Besides visiting the penguin colony, Leopard seals, snow petrels, arctic skuas can be seen and guides are available to share knowledge of the majestic wildlife.

Gould Bay trips last approximately 9 days and prices start at around $48,950 per person.

How is communication maintained?

Gould Bay Camp maintains contact with Union Glacier Camp via satellite phone and email communications. Outgoing satellite phone calls can be made using the Iridium handsets, although satellite internet access is camp-only. Prepaid phone cards can be purchased from Union Glacier. Caveat: Limited loading facilities are a factor in the main tent. Therefore, one must ensure one has backup batteries before exiting Union Glacier.

Union Glacier Tented Camp

A camp at Union Glacier in the Ellsworth Mountains is a full service camp that operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January). Accessible only by air, this camp is approximately 1859 miles from the southern tip of Chile. The camp has a total of 35 double-walled shell tents for two people with wooden floors, natural solar heating, equipped with a cot, mattress, pillow and sink. Although washrooms are shared. Delicious meals featuring vegetables, fresh fruit, meats and cheeses are served in the central dining tent.

Activities included

A range of activities such as group excursions, cross-country skiing, hiking tours and fat tire biking are available. Guest lecturers also speak at campsites on a variety of topics ranging from glaciology to polar history.

See also: A Guide to Visiting the Famous Cape Town Penguins

Overnight stays in Antarctica

This option is feasible for travelers with limited time and a limited budget. These itineraries focus on visiting King George Island in the South Shetland Islands off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The departure is from Punta Arenas (Chile) and returns there. The overnight programs cost $6500 per person and a full day program without an overnight stay costs approximately $5500 per person. Temporary ice camps offer accommodation on a private basis for up to 16 people. The facilities are quite functional and not luxurious.

Activities included

View the wildlife of Antarctica, Ardley Island, visit the gentoo penguin colony as well as chinstrap penguins, skuas and terns, visit the Russian Orthodox Church in Collins Harbor and return from Frei station to Punta Arenas, Chile. Total time on King George Island is approximately 5 hours.

If an overnight stay is included, activities like kayaking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling can also be considered.

Additional option: expedition cruises

One can also choose expedition cruises to visit Antarctica and dock the ship according to the destinations. The Hurtigruten Group is a global leader in exploration voyages. Their various expeditions are tailored to that. Days are split between landing and cruising midway through the itinerary. The total costs can start from 10016 euros.

amenities included

Two observation decks, library, game room, hot tub and pool are among the basic amenities on the cruise. Also remember that travel insurance is mandatory for trips to Antarctica.

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