Tag Archives: seal

Five hot tips to maximise your Antarctic camping experience

While travelling to the Antarctic peninsula on the Antarctic Explorer trip with Quark Expeditions I was one of 30 passengers to spend a night camping on the ice.

Tip 1: Make sure you pick a trip where camping is offered 

Some companies do not offer camping on the ice as an option and, if the company you are travelling with does do camping options, those options may not be offered on every trip.  So make sure you do your research before selecting the trip you go on.

Tip 2: If you want to camp on the ice book ahead

We had 110 passengers on the Sea Spirit and a maximum of 30 were allowed to camp for a night.  On the departure I was on there were a few more passengers who wanted to camp but were unable to do so.

Tip 3: Know what you want to get out of the experience

We were given a choice of sleeping in a tent or in a bivvy sac. For me, sleeping in a bivvy sac felt like I would be getting the maximum out of the experience. The majority used bivvy sacs on our trip with one tent being used amongst the passengers and another tent was used by the three expedition staff. The two options are seen in the photo below with the bivvy sac in front. Antarctica14742 - print   One reason I was keen to camp on the ice was to experience some different photographic opportunities from those available during the day time excursions. Camping on the ice was the one time my tripod came out in Antarctica.  Unfortunately things didn’t quite go as planned as the sky was overcast on the appointed evening. Antarctica14738 - printAntarctica14748 - print

Tip 4: The bivvy sac was easy to lay out

We received all the gear during the afternoon before camping. This included a bivvy sac,  sleeping bag, sleeping bag sheet and two sleeping mats (one went inside the bivvy sac and one lay between the ice and the bivvy sac). I put my yellow jacket Quark provides to all passengers on top of the bivvy sac and the boots Quark loans for the trip provided the structural basis for my pillow. Before leaving the Sea Spirit the whole bundle was rolled up so it was just a matter of rolling out the bundle and bed was ready once hitting the ice.

Tip 5:  Camping  experiences are different from day excursions When we walked into the area mapped out for camping we noticed a seal and a number of penguins. This was something to ponder given the stories we had heard about seals being found at the feet of passengers in the morning.  However, nothing of this nature was experienced in our group. Antarctica14693 - print After walking around for a while and taking photos we all settled into bed. Before I fell asleep, one of the things I noticed was the sounds from ice movement  and animal life (especially birds). The absence of other human background noise undoubtedly enhanced this experience.

For the record

The 30 intrepid passengers (yellow jackets) and 3 expedition staff (red jackets) who camped on the ice on the night of 11/12 February 2014 are shown in the photo below. Antarctica14740 - print


The diversity of Antarctic animal life: 39 species seen on my trip

You will see a lot of penguins when visiting Antarctica (see my previous blog post here) but don’t make the mistake of thinking that penguins are the only animal life you will see.  After my trip with Quark Expeditions we were given a full list of wildlife sightings while on the trip.  This list is too long to reproduce here but suffice to say along with the penguins I have previously described we saw:

  • four species of albatross
  • twelve species of petrel/shearwater
  • two species of cormorant
  • one species of sheathbill
  • three species of skua
  • four species of gull/tern
  • three species of whale
  • one species of dolphin
  • four species of seal/fur seal.

If you have been reading my blog posts you will know that all this was experienced on a trip exclusively to the Antarctic peninsula.

Following are a few of my favourite photos  showing animal life (excluding the penguins) in Antarctica.


Antarctica14267 - print Antarctica14670 - print


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Seals and fur seals

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For me, the penguins were fascinating and there was also a wide variety of other animal life to keep this natural history  enthusiast very excited with this Antarctic trip. I suspect the great majority of visitors to Antarctica have a love for all forms of natural history and for that person, Antarctica is a fantastic place to visit.  If you are thinking about visiting the southern continent I hope this series of posts on Antarctica continues to whet your appetite and encourages you to book your trip.  Feel free to leave your comments on your dreams/plans for an Antarctic trip or your experiences if you have already visited.