June 8, 2017
Camping In Antarctica

Did you know that you can camp in Antarctica? I didn’t until I researched my trip to Antarctica with Quark Expeditions. My trip to Antarctica was the fulfilment of a life-long dream: to visit all seven continents. I wanted to make it an official visit by spending the night on the ice. Could I really claim that I’ve visited all seven continents without spending the night on the physical ground of Antarctica? No.

Camping In Antarctica


It wasn’t an easy camping experience. We had to hike up and around the Gentoo penguin rookery, loaded with our heavy duty sleeping bag, liner and sleeping mat. I was sweating and out of breath before we reached our designated spot in Neko Harbor.

Camping In Antarctica

The difficult hike was the result of the steep hills that form the harbor. The penguins had created their rookery at the top of one hill for safety against predators. I watched them waddle up and down the grooves, known as penguin highways, as I struggled to hike up the human highway.

Camping In Antarctica

Our guides gave us the overview of camping. We had to stay in a certain area that was determined to be safe (i.e. stable ice). There would be a constant watch for weather changes and ice calving. We would be alerted in case of an emergency evacuation. Mother Nature reigns in Antarctica. A fun camping experience is more dangerous than you think. After all, we were camping on a glacier.

Camping In Antarctica

And they reminded us that the toilet was for emergencies only. And after looking at the bucket dug into the ice, it looked like an unpleasant experience anyway. I’m not afraid to admit this—my roommate had brought adult diapers for the occasion. We both wore them, but didn’t use them.

Camping In Antarctica

After the rules, we were told to start shoveling! The camping area was on an incline so we had to dig out a flat sleeping space to avoid rolling down into the freezing sea. Again, this was not your typical camping experience.

Camping In Antarctica

I picked a spot near the rookery so I could watch the penguins but also admire the harbor. It was a tough task to dig out and flatten the ice. I didn’t expect to have a tough climb followed by tough digging! The camping was more arduous than I had anticipated.

Camping In Antarctica


It was hard to tell when day became night. It’s rare to see the sun in Antarctica even in the summer. A grayness permeates the continent with low clouds blocking the sky. The only lights were that of our ship anchored a bit outside of the harbor. It seemed so small from high up on the hill.

Camping In Antarctica

My eyes tried to take it all in. I watched life unfold in the penguin rookery. There were two penguins that were fighting, squawking and chasing each other. Other penguins stood as tall as possible to call to their mates while flapping their flippers. Eventually, the penguins settled in and laid on their bellies to sleep.

Camping In Antarctica

I also watched the glacier at the round part of the harbor that sat on the top of the mountain. Without warning, we heard a cracking noise and all of sudden pieces of it tumbled into the dark sea below. The roar and splash of the fall hung in the icy air for what seemed like an eternity. It was another reminder that this wasn’t a typical camping experience. My mind tried desperately to remember each detail to savor forever. And my body, well, it tried to be as comfortable as possible to get some sleep at some point.

Camping In Antarctica


I had been camping in cold climates before and I knew the key trick was to not get any ice into my sleeping bag. That would make for a miserable, cold sleeping experience. I slept in all my clothes, tucked my cameras near my body to keep them warm and carefully took off my boots to cocoon myself into the sleeping bag.

Camping In Antarctica


We had to wake up early to rejoin the big ship. The faint sun cast a soft glow on the rookery and brought the blue in the glaciers. I watched as the penguins started their day, traversing the penguin highways and feeding the chicks.

Camping In Antarctica

I lingered as long as I could to soak in the beautiful morning in the most exotic destination in which I had camped. It wasn’t the best night sleep that I’ve had, but it was one of the most magical nights.

Have you been to the Antarctica? If you have any additional tips for our readers or questions please leave these in the comments below.

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Camping In Antarctica

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  • Reply Alice June 8, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    So great! I did it with G Adventures. Apparently Neko harbour was too dangerous and had been having too much ice caving, that could cause potential tsunami that we were on high alert even for our zodiac landing! We camped at Leith cove which was beautiful and sheltered. I luckily had a tent, just had to stamp out a flat spot and we had kinda normal camping toilets (although I think a number 2 was not encouraged). What a great experience it was. I don’t think I slept a wink! Emerged from our tents to a whale circling our little island that we called home for the night.

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls June 10, 2017 at 2:47 am

      Hey Alice – thanks for stopping by and reading and commenting! What an amazing experience, on my bucketlist for sure! Xo, Becky

    • Reply Michelle Grant June 10, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Wow! What an incredible experience. We were very fortunate that the weather conditions for Neko Harbour were good for camping. Safety was the number one priority. You have to respect Mother Nature in Antarctica. It was such a memorable experience!

  • Reply Lea Hecker June 9, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    Looks like you visited the water tribe of Avatar the last Airbender! 😀 Amazing post.

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls June 10, 2017 at 2:45 am

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting Lea, glad you enjoyed this post! XO, Becky

    • Reply Michelle Grant June 10, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks! Antarctica is out of this world. I can’t recommend it enough as a destination.

  • Reply Camping in Antarctica - Intrepidviajera June 10, 2017 at 3:44 pm

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  • Reply Crystal June 13, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Wow! This was stunning and awesome to read about- what an opportunity for you to do this. 🙂

    • Reply We Are Travel Girls June 13, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting Crystal, glad you enjoyed this post! This is definitely a bucketlist travel destination! XO, Becky

    • Reply Michelle Grant June 15, 2017 at 1:16 am

      Thanks, Crystal! It was an amazing opportunity that I won’t forget.

  • Reply Allison June 13, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    I can’t believe you got to do this. That is so awesome! You’re officially one of the few people to say you’ve been to Antarctica. So cool!

    • Reply Michelle Grant June 15, 2017 at 1:17 am

      Yep, I’m one of very few who have been to Antarctica and to sleep on the continent. It’s super thrilling!

  • Reply Olivia June 15, 2017 at 8:45 am

    This is so insanely cool! I’m definitely not hardcore enough because I can’t stand the cold! The penguins are probably worth it though!!

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  • Reply Julia October 2, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Hi Michelle! I love this! Totally give you props for camping outside, that morning shot looks totally worth it. Do you have any recommendations after your research? I started looking into this a few months ago, and the information is a little overwhelming… How do you choose the best ship/voyage/time of year? Any recommendations or travel tips you’ve gathered? 🙂

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