The world's most isolated, southernmost, and deserted continent, Antarctica is known for its superlative degree traits, be it coldest, driest, iciest, or windiest land. About 98℅ of this land is covered in snow and lured everyone due to its formidable weather conditions and enchanting beauty standing solitary. Being a subantarctic island of South Georgia, this place spells adventure.
After a visit to this extraordinary place, searching for lodging can be a task. Therefore, we have rolled down a few options from luxury to limited lodging. Depending on one's budget and interests, one can choose amidst the options of luxury lodges, luxury cruises, expedition cruises, and camps for outdoor adventure.
Whichaway Camp - Luxury Lodge
The only luxurious lodge on the continent of Antarctica featuring all the mind-boggling amenities in the lodge as well as till one reaches it. The pioneer of this camp is White Desert which also has a private jet service with access to the interior of Antarctica. Deemed to be a 5 hour Gulfstream flight, it connects Cape Town to Whichaway camp directly. Located at the base of a 200-foot wall of ice, the Whichaway camp is nestled near a frozen lake.
It has six private and three communal domes which serve as reception, lounge, and dining room. It has been stacked with luxury, especially with its dining element. Chef Janna Viney's prominence for serving English Breakfast, Seafood, Steak, and alfresco champagne lunches, the dining also has premium beverages. Apart from this, the lodge has an onsite sauna. With their "Eco Sleeping Pod Cabins", their rooms are furnished with warm textiles, fur throws, efficient heating, a writing desk, natural wood floors, and a well-equipped washroom.
It also includes a Whichaway "Ice & Mountains Adventure Program". The program starts with a charter jet ride to the Wolf's Fang Blue Ice in the Drygalski Mountains. After spending the day amidst the peaks, a 25-minute evening flight retreats you back to the lodge. One can choose between adrenaline rush activities such as mountaineering, kite skiing, abseiling or trek to electric blue ice tunnels, glacier trips, or visit to scientific research bases. One of the unique sights is exploring a penguin colony of 6000 penguins in Atka Bay and also polar exploring skills.
Cost Involved & Hours of Operation
The current cost per person for seven days is around $96000 dollars per person. It operates only from November to January due to Antarctica.
Gould Bay Camp - Affordable Accommodation
The Gould Bay Camp in the Weddell Sea is a more affordable alternative. It is a tented camp over a luxury lodge, which provides a good base camp for visiting the penguin colony nearby as well. The location of this camp is its USP which is 420 miles from the Union Glacier, making it a remote camp.
The amenities are not lavish but simple and utilitarian. It has the option of staying in either single occupancy 4 season mountain tents or dual occupancy tents used by ski expedition teams. An insulated sleeping mat & polar rated sleeping bag are provided to warm the ambiance. Breakfast includes pancakes, bacon, oatmeal, warm soups, cold meats with cheeses. Beverages such as wine, juice, beer are also available.
The field toilets are regularly sanitized and the waste is disposed of at Union Glacier Camp meanwhile at the penguin's colony, one needs to use toilet bags and pee bottles. Also, there are no showers at this camp. Wet wipes are given as an alternative.
Apart from visiting the penguin colony, one can see leopard seals, snow petrels, south polar skua and the guides are available to share the knowledge of the majestic wildlife.
Gould bay trips last for around 9 days and prices start around USD $48,950 per person.
How Communication Is Maintained?
Using satellite phone and email communication, Gould Bay Camp keeps in touch with Union Glacier Camp. The outgoing satellite phone calls can be made using the Iridium handsets albeit satellite internet access is solely for the camp. Prepaid phone cards can be purchased at Union Glacier. Caveat: Limited charging facilities are a factor in the main tent. Thus, one must ensure to have backup batteries before leaving Union Glacier.
Union Glacier Tented Camp
A camp at Union Glacier in the Ellsworth mountains is a full-service camp that operates during Antarctica Summer (November to January). Accessible only by air, this camp is situated around 1859 miles from the southern tip of Chile. The camp in total has 35 double-walled, dual occupancy clam tents which have wooden flooring, natural solar heating, equipped with cot, mattress, pillow, and washbasin. Although, washrooms are communal. Delectable meals are served in the central dining tent having vegetables, fresh fruits, meats, and cheeses.
An array of activities such as Group Excursions, Cross Country Skiing, Walking Tours, Fat Tire Biking are available. Also at campsites, guest lecturers speak about a variety of subjects ranging from glaciology to polar history.
Overnight Antarctica Stays
This option is feasible for travelers with limited time and a limited budget. These itineraries focus on visiting King George Island in the South Shetland Islands off the coast of the Antarctica Peninsula. The departure takes place from Punta Arenas (Chile) and returns to the same. The overnight programs cost 6500$ per person and a full-day program with no overnight stay costs around 5500$ per person. Temporary ice camps offer accommodation on a private basis for up to 16 people. The facilities are quite utilitarian and not luxurious.
Watching wildlife of Antarctica, Ardley Island to visit the Gentoo penguin colony as well as Chinstrap Penguins, skuas, and terns, visit the Russian Orthodox Church at Collins Harbour and depart from Frei Station to Punta Arenas, Chile back again. The total time spent on King George Island is around 5 hours.
If an overnight stay is included, one can also consider activities such as kayaking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
Additional Option: Expedition Cruises
One can also choose expedition cruises to visit Antarctica and dock the ship as per the destinations. Hurtigruten Group is a world leader in exploration travel. Their various expeditions are tailored accordingly. Days are split between landing and cruising amidst the itinerary. The total cost can start from 10016 euros onwards.
Two viewing decks, a library, a game room, Jacuzzi, and a pool are the amenities on the cruise apart from the basic amenities. Also remember, Travel Insurance is imperative for trips in Antarctica.