Emperors & Explorers
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.
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.
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.
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 Code||To Antarctica||From Antarctica||Duration||Price (US$) *||Availability|
|Emps/Explr1||Nov 9 2014||Nov 17 2014||9 days||$68,500||Waiting List|
|Emps/Explr2||Nov 21 2014||Nov 29 2014||9 days||$68,500||Available|
|Emps/Explr3||Nov 29 2014||Dec 7 2014||9 days||$68,500||Available|
|Emps/Explr2||Nov 21 2015||Nov 29 2015||9 days||$69,850||Available|
|Emps/Explr3||Nov 29 2015||Dec 7 2015||9 days||$69,850||Available|
Dates & Rates Notes
This Experience has a minimum number requirement
* We reserve the right to revise our prices in the event of significant changes in the price of aviation kerosene and aircraft charter rates.
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
Fly from Chile to Antarctica by private transport jet. Land on ice runway. Settle in at Union Glacier Camp.
Day 2 Acclimatize to Antarctica
Today is an easy day to acclimatize to Antarctic conditions. We will have an orientation to camp and life in Antarctica, review expedition logistics with our guide, and enjoy a presentation by our staff naturalist about coastal wildlife and wildlife viewing procedures.
Days 3-5 Living with the Emperors
After a leisurely breakfast we pack up and fly by ski aircraft to the remote south coast of the Weddell Sea. We land on multi-year sea ice near the Emperor rookery and our guides set up a cozy field camp beside the aircraft. The rest of the day is ours to explore and we have our first audience with the Emperors.
Experience the rhythms of the rookery at your own pace over the next three days. Take guided walks with our ANI naturalist or do your own thing. Meal times are flexible so you can photograph and explore when the lighting and mood are just right. Meals are prepared by our guides and include hot meals and portable snacks.
Watch adults display and feed their young. Listen to trumpeting and whistling calls as parents and chicks search for one another. If lucky, we'll photograph Weddell seals lazing by tide cracks. And at each step we'll marvel at the magnificence of where we are. Each night, fall asleep to the mingled calls of thousands of Emperors.
At the end of our third day we pack-up the aircraft and fly back to Union Glacier Camp.
Day 6 Union Glacier
We take a day to enjoy the comforts of Union Glacier Camp and prepare for the next leg of our journey.
Day 7 In the footsteps of the Explorers
Today we fly to the South Pole, the holy grail of polar explorers. A 4-5 hr flight brings us to our destination and as we step off the aircraft, we are immediately struck by the significance of this place and our journey. We have arrived at the heart of the 7th continent and at the axis of the earth. Here all 360 lines of longitude meet and the ice is nearly 10,000 ft (3,000m) thick. This last great geographical prize captured the imagination of a generation of explorers, who suffered extreme hardship and even gave their lives to claim it as their own.
We will take plenty of time for photographs and reflection at the Geographic South Pole and at the colorful Ceremonial Pole which commemorates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. Inside Amundsen-Scott station we will learn what makes the South Pole a unique scientific laboratory and visit the store to buy souvenirs. After our visit we re-board the ski aircraft and return to Union Glacier Camp, where we will toast our achievement and enjoy a celebration meal prepared by our chefs.
The South Pole has been designated an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA #5) to conserve the environmental, scientific and historical values of the area. We ask for your cooperation in respecting visitor guidelines during any time we may spend at the South Pole.
Day 8 Union Glacier
On our final day we have a chance to explore scenic Union Glacier. This day also provide a second opportunity for our South Pole flight, in case of poor weather on Day 7.
Day 9* 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.
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.
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.
Can I fly my drone/UAV in Antarctica?
A number of requirements apply to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)/drones in Antarctica, due to concerns about privacy, interference with scientific work, use in controlled airspace, and potential impacts if lost. ANI has developed UAV Guidelines to help our guests comply. Tell us if you plan to bring a UAV and be sure to review our UAV Guidelines.
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.
Emperor Penuins Experience
Can I touch the penguins?
No. Penguins, seals and other Antarctic wildlife need to conserve energy in order to survive and raise their young. It is essential that you keep your distance and avoid causing them stress. All Antarctic wildlife are protected under the Antarctic Treaty and visitors may not touch, feed or disturb them in any way. Please see IAATO's Emperor Penguin Viewing Guidelines.Your guide will also explain the wildlife watching procedures and will help you to follow them in the field.
Where is the Emperor Rookery?
ANI has visited several Emperor penguin rookeries along the Weddell Sea coast and currently runs trips to the Gould Bay rookery.
|Gould Bay||S77° 43||W047° 43|
|Luitpold Coast||S77° 16||W033° 42|
|Dawon-Lambton Glacier||S76° 00||W026° 36|
What is the Emperor life-cycle?
March-December, later start further south
Arrival and Laying
Early May (northern colonies) to c.20 June (southern colonies)
Female for a few hours
Pt Géologie: 5 July
Brooded by male for up to 10d
|Starts early November, complete by mid to late December
Chick weight at fledging 10-15kg (c.40% of adult wt)
Reference: Marchant, S. and P.J. Higgings (co-ordinators). 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Melbourne, OUP Vol: 1 Part A & B. ISBN 0 19 553068 3.
Skills and Experience
No previous experience or skills are required.
No special training required, just normal health and fitness. You should be comfortable walking for up to several kilometers on uneven, sometimes slippery snow and ice surfaces. We also recommend you have reasonable mobility, to get in and out of mountaineering-style field tents; move about when wearing bulky clothing; and climb aircraft steps. Guests with high blood pressure should consult their physician.
- Remote field camp (at Emperor rookery) with basic facilities; possible severe storms; temperatures may drop to -25F (–30C)
- Our Emperor penguin field camp will be situated approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from the rookery. Expect to walk up to several kilometers each day on uneven snow and ice
- South Pole elevation 9300 ft (2835m). Physiological altitude approximately 11,000 ft (3350m)
- South Pole flight day – 14 hour day; several hours, including walking and stair climbing, at altitude
- Extreme temperatures and temperature changes at South Pole. -40F (-40C) outside. 70F (22C) inside Amundsen-Scott station
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.
- Guidelines for Visitors to the Antarctic
- Don't Pack a Pest
- Emperor Penguin Viewing Guidelines
- More information about Visitor Guidelines (including Guidelines in other languages)