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Antarctic Odyssey

Experience a world of stunning beauty and magnificent proportions from the comfort of our camp

Antarctic Odyssey

Get a bird’s eye view of the continent

Embark on an Odyssey into the heart of Antarctica - a magnificent world of snow and huge skies, pristine views, untouched spaces and profound silence. Immerse yourself in the ultimate wilderness, a place where the sun never sets and footsteps echo in the crystalline air. Live and breathe this huge continent and gain an appreciation of why it has drawn explorers and adventurers to uncover its secrets over the years.

Whether you are looking for pure adventure or gentle exploration, our guides will help you discover the magic and mystery of Antarctica.  Each day you will enjoy a variety of active pursuits: hike over waves of blue ice; ski across frozen sastrugi; explore fantastic ice features; search for fossils; and picnic beside frozen ponds.  Get a bird's eye perspective on a breathtaking sightseeing flight; tour the scenic valley by vehicle; or simply relax and take it all in.

Looking for greater challenges? Just let us know. You can try ice climbing, scramble up a peak, or camp out in the polar wilderness – it’s entirely up to you! At the end of each day, share stories with other adventurers over a glass of Chilean wine and a delicious fresh-cooked dinner prepared by our chefs.

No cold weather or camping experience is required. You stay in our cozy main Antarctic camp on the Union Glacier allowing you the flexibility to participate at your own pace.

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.

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Activity Level

Easy to Moderate
Easy

Easy trips offer comfortable adventure under normal polar conditions. They include gentle activities like scenic tours, short treks, talks and skills sessions. If you want more adventure, we can offer that too! You can participate at your own pace and to be as active or relaxed as you wish.

Moderate

Moderate trips offer adventure with a bit more challenge. They may include walking up to several miles/kilometres on uneven snow and ice; staying in remote field camps; extreme temperatures (–40°F / –40°C); or light activity at altitude (11,000ft / 3350m).

Trip CodeTo AntarcticaFrom AntarcticaDurationPrice (US$) *Availability
Season: 2014/2015
AO1Dec 7 2014Dec 13 20147 days$23,250Waiting List

Dates & Rates Notes

* We reserve the right to revise our prices in the event of significant changes in the price of aviation kerosene and aircraft charter rates.

What's Included

ALL ANI Experiences include:

  • Transfers to and from Punta Arenas airport, Chile
  • Briefing with refreshments in Punta Arenas one day prior to departure
  • Round trip flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica
  • All flights within Antarctica as shown in your itinerary
  • Meals and accommodation while in Antarctica
  • Expedition Guide(s) (and naturalist or lecturer on some Experiences)
  • Use of recreational equipment at Union Glacier Camp
  • Official and personalised ANI Certificate of Achievement
  • A Baggage allowance of up to 55lbs (25kg) on Punta Arenas-Union Glacier flight
  • (Baggage allowance of up to 66lb (30kg) for Ski South Pole Hercules Inlet, Messner and Footsteps of Amundsen Expeditions)

SOME Experiences include:

  • Group camping equipment (when travelling beyond Union Glacier Camp)
  • Group climbing equipment (climbing expeditions)
  • Sled, harness, ski pole pogies (all ski expeditions)
  • Skis, ski skins, ski poles (Ski Last Degree)

Experiences DO NOT include:

  • Commercial flights to and from Punta Arenas
  • Flights within Antarctica, other than those shown in itinerary
  • Meals and accommodation in Punta Arenas
  • Airport transfers other than in Punta Arenas
  • Personal equipment and clothing (polar clothing is available for rent from ANI for some Experiences)
  • Expenses incurred in Punta Arenas due to delays
  • Any excess baggage costs over confirmed baggage allowance
  • Cost for the use of satellite phone whilst in Antarctica
  • Insurance coverage – personal, medical, evacuation or otherwise

Day 1 Fly to Antarctica

Depart Punta Arenas Chile. Fly 4 ¼ hrs to Antarctica by private transport jet. Land on our ice runway and settle in at Union Glacier Camp.

Day 2 Acclimatize to Antarctica

Today is an easy day. We’ll have an orientation to base camp and life in Antarctica. In the afternoon there are optional, light activities to acclimatize to Antarctic conditions.

Days 3-6 Exploring Antarctica

Experience the heart of Antarctica from the comfort of camp. Each day our guides will suggest excursions and activities suited to the weather, local conditions and your interests.

There are gentle walks across waves of blue-ice as well as excursions in our specially-adapted 4x4 vans. You can wander through the Elephant Head valley with its frozen ice pools and unusual rock formations. Explore ancient rock terraces. Picnic in hidden canyons. Gaze out from mountain summits over the broad expanse of Union Glacier. Or climb serpentine ridges with views of the Ronne Ice Shelf. If you’re looking for excitement, choose from a range of adrenaline-charged activities from ice climbing in ancient crevasses and cross country skiing to more technical climbs or even a mini-overnight expedition.

In camp there are Antarctic skills sessions and talks. Learn about polar navigation and communications or challenge yourself on a GPS course. Our experienced guides have a wealth of knowledge and visiting scientists often give talks on their Antarctic research. Or, simply relax in our heated multi-purpose tent with a book or DVD from our library.

The highlight of this experience is a spectacular sightseeing flight along the spine of the Ellsworth Mountains, giving you a birds-eye view over the mountains and nunataks that peek out from the ice sheet below.

All the while you stay in our comfortable Union Glacier Camp where you enjoy delicious hearty meals, fresh-baked pastries and delectable desserts, prepared by our international chefs.

Day 7* Return to Punta Arenas, Chile 

The aircraft from Punta Arenas will arrive with a new collection of avid explorers and you depart for the final leg of your Antarctic experience. Our ANI staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel.

* Schedule
No two Antarctic experiences are exactly the same. This is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. The itinerary above highlights typical activities and experiences. Exact timeline and details will vary from trip to trip. Trip length may vary by departure

Please anticipate delays and do not plan anything for at least a week after your scheduled return. Allow yourself to enjoy this unique experience without the stress of pending commitments.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this Experience. More FAQ's can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Weather and Environment

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.
  • Mount Vinson climbers and skiers heading to the South Pole should prepare for extreme temperatures -40F (-40C) and severe storms.

Do I need to ski?

The snow around Union Glacier Camp is generally firm and fine for walking. The same is true at the South Pole, Emperor penguin rookery and other fly-in destinations. We have skis for recreational use, but you do not have to ski.

We do not usually use skis to ascend Mount Vinson. The snow is generally quite firm and well-suited to cramponing. Experienced skier mountaineers may contact us to discuss the option of a ski ascent. (See Can I ski Mount Vinson)

Other climbing Experiences may involve skiing to speed up travel on the glaciers. We normally use Alpine Touring (AT) ski equipment. You don’t have to be a good skier, as skiing on flat terrain with AT gear is akin to walking, but those who have some Nordic or downhill experience will obviously find it easier. Guidelines are provided for each Experience.

Safety, Medical and Insurance

Do I need travel insurance?

All ANI 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. ANI Experiences are non-refundable within 90 days of departure.

Find more information and links to purchase travel insurance on our Travel Insurance pages.

Schedule and Itinerary

Will the itinerary be exactly the same as shown on the website?

Our itineraries are meant as a guide, to give you an idea of the kinds of activities and the flow of each Experience. However no two trips are exactly the same - and that is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. Your unique itinerary will be tailored to your interests and abilities, weather conditions and coordination with other groups on the ice. Flight schedules are flexible and you should expect delays due to the unpredictable nature of Antarctic weather, runway conditions and other logistics.

What do we do when the weather is bad?

Poor weather days at Union Glacier Camp provide opportunities for talks and skills sessions on Antarctic themes such as navigation, crevasse rescue, cold weather injury, communications and meteorology. Ad hoc talks by visiting scientists, expedition teams and other guest-experts are always popular. Games, jigsaw puzzles and DVD's provide diversion. Or you can delve into our library of Antarctic books and light novels.

When should I arrive?

For most Experiences we ask that you arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile at least two full days (48 hours) before your scheduled departure. This allows time for clothing and equipment checks and provides a buffer in case you should miss a flight connection or have lost luggage. An environmental and logistics briefing will be held in the morning, on the day prior to departure. We will collect your luggage and load the aircraft that afternoon, ready for an early flight the following day.

Guests on longer ski traverses should arrive at least four full days prior to departure. We will spend the additional two days getting to know the team, reviewing expedition plans, making any last minute adjustments to equipment and finally packing our sleds ready for departure.

Please note that we cannot hold Antarctic flights for guests who are delayed arriving or who have lost luggage. We recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your trip, without the stress of tight timelines.

Clothing and Equipment

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.

The clothing rental form appears on the Requirements & Forms tab for each Experience where clothing rental is an option.

Booking and Payment Information

I'm ready to book. What do I do?

Please email or call our office to confirm availablity on your chosen Experience and departure. We will ask you to fill out a medical form (and resume of experience for climbing and ski expeditions). Please fill these forms out completely and honestly. If we have any questions or concerns, we will work with you to resolve them. Once these have been approved, we will ask you send a deposit of $US 5000 to confirm your reservation.

More Frequently Asked Questions.

Skills and Experience

No special skills or cold weather experience are required. Just bring your enthusiasm and a generous sense of adventure.

Training

No special training is required, just normal health and fitness. Our small group size allows you to participate at your own pace. 

We recommend that you are comfortable walking on uneven, sometimes slippery snow and ice surfaces. We also recommend you have reasonable mobility as it makes it easier to step up and over tent doorways, buckle up boots while wearing bulky clothing and climb aircraft steps.

Visitor Guidelines

Our guests play a crucial role in helping us care for the Antarctic environment. Please review the guidelines below as part of your pre-trip preparation.

Forms

Map Image Overview: 
Map Image Detail: 

More map resources can be found on our Maps page

Our Commitment to Safety

Your safety is very important to us and we work closely with you to make sure you are well prepared for your Antarctic Experience.

All our activities are subject to detailed risk management and contingency planning that allow for the remote and harsh Antarctic environment. Our preparations include detailed emergency planning and equipment to deal with all eventualities.

Our team are known for their experience and expertise and we encourage a culture of safety by providing training and support. Our Union Glacier camp has a basic medical clinic staffed by a doctor and medic who specialize in emergency and remote medicine. We keep a 24-hour watch during our operating season and are ready to respond - day or night - in case of emergency.

We maintain other camp facilities and pre-placed fuel caches in the interior of Antarctica to support our flights. Established procedures and communication protocols and continued investment in equipment and technology all contribute to safe and enjoyable Experiences.

Environmental Ethic

IAATO logoANI’s mission is to set the highest possible environmental standards and to use best practices. We believe in responsible and sustainable tourism where our guests leave Antarctica with a greater appreciation of its remarkable natural values.

We encourage a culture of environmental stewardship through training and our activities are planned to have the minimum effect on the environment.