A continent encircled by pack ice and massive tabular icebergs, a beautifully mysterious place enticing explorers, adventurers and dreamers over the decades, Antarctica remains the last vast wilderness on earth. It is the coldest, windiest, and driest continent and is capped by an ice sheet that can be over 4 km thick. In winter, it is surrounded by vast swathes of sea ice even more extensive in area than the continent itself.
Antarctica is known for its thriving, unique wildlife, including seals, whales, and penguins. Penguin populations in some rookeries are counted in the tens of thousands. One of the characteristics of the south polar region is that all of its wild inhabitants are reliant on the sea.
Humans have never inhabited Antarctica, and recreational expeditions to the continent are relatively new. Antarctica is devoid of power lines, billboards, and highways. When the engines of your expedition vessel are turned off, the only sounds you hear are natural - wildlife, water, and the occasional boom of icebergs calving.
Antarctica's key role in global processes is now recognised. The ice sheet holds 90% of the world's fresh water, which, if melted, would raise sea level by 65 m. The ice sheet drives the Southern Hemisphere weather patterns and modulates world climate.
'Most expeditions depart from Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego in Argentina.
Ushuaia is the Southern-most city in the world and is located in the shadow of the Andes, right on the shore of Beagle Channel, one of world’s most stunning locations. Flights to Ushuaia commonly depart from Santiago, Chile or Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Arriving at least 1 day prior to departure will help you acclimatise to the time difference and relax after your long flight from either Buenos Aires or Santiago. Expect wonderful views of the Beagle Channel, and the peaks of the "Five Brothers" from the airplane on its descent.
Be sure to choose an expedition where your preferred adventure activity is offered to avoid disappointment. Please enquire for more details on the activity of your choice.
One of the most popular adventure activities! Paddle along side snoozing leopard seals and iridescent blue icebergs, accompanied by expert guides.
Polar diving & snorkelling
Experienced divers, be ready to enter a world of sculpted icebergs and super-sized marine life! Not an experienced diver? Try polar snorkelling!
Stretch your legs and reach some of Antarctica’s most spectacular vantage points. No experience needed.
Experienced skiers have the chance to traverse remote, snowcapped peaks few, if any, have skied before.
South Georgia alpine crossing
Considered one of the world’s most challenging adventures, the historic alpine crossing of South Georgia promises intricate glacier travel, spectacular mountain scenery and your chance to say ‘I followed in the footsteps of Shackleton!’ Experience is necessary.
Right after dinner, lay out your sleeping bag to a penguin serenade or whale-blow, and camp out like a true explorer!
Whether a beginner or experienced photographer, join our highly-experienced guides on selected departures and capture the perfect moment on your adventure!
Antarctic wildlife is at its most active during the southern summer, November - March. The beauty and solitude of Antarctic seas and mountains conceals the frantic activity of the shoreline colonies of birds and mammals.
Summer arrives first in the South Shetland Islands and spreads south along the Antarctic Peninsula. As the Antarctic year progresses, from spring to autumn, the Antarctic Peninsula and Islands change in appearance and character, each season offering a different range of spectacular sights and possibilities to the visitor.
In Antarctica’s warmest months wildlife activities are in full swing. Most penguin chicks hatch in January, earliest in the South Shetland Islands and later more to the south at the Peninsula. The frantic activity continues in the colonies in February as the young get older and bolder and are gathering in crèches.
Nightly Darkness returns as the sun sinks farther below the southern horizon, but temperatures are still above zero, though we may experience a touch of Antarctic winter with night frosts, creating beautiful patterns of thin sea ice on the surface. The snow cover is at its minimum allowing for easy and extensive walks in the South Shetland Islands.
Scuba diving in Antarctica takes you into a relatively unexplored underwater world and invites you to absorb yourself in an icy world of immense biological diversity. You will encounter breathtaking ice structures framed by shafts of light from above and scores of marine wildlife, including unique varieties of kelp, sea snails, jellyfish, sea urchins, sea butterflies, starfish, isopods, crabs, anemones and soft coral. You might even get the opportunity to see fur seals, penguins, and also the formidable predator of Antarctica - the Leopard seal! If you’re a seasoned cold-water diver, then this is one for the bucket list. Experience an underwater wonderland that few are brave enough to dive into.
Scuba diving in Antarctica is not for beginners. Due to the extreme conditions of this unique dive destination, it is required that you are a confident cold-water diver, with at least 20 dry suit dives.
2 to -2 °C average water temperature. Dry suit only plus adequate undergarments.
Captivating visibility, unique marine mammals and ice structures
Dive season - Summer only
Participants must demonstrate capability in the primary skills required by cold water diving:
Cleaning the mask out of water; Changing the main regulator to the reserve one and vice versa; Tapping into the buddy reserve regulator; Conducting an emergency rising to the surface breathing by means of the buddy reserve regulator; Controlling one's buoyancy;
Communicating with the buddy and with the tender; Only for Ice Diving: Overturning upside down under ice and getting back to the standard position.
It will be necessary to demonstrate these abilities to the Dive Staff in the course of the check dive. Divers without the necessary experience are kindly asked to abort diving and join the land programme for non-divers.
We plan at least two dives per day (except for days at sea), but an exact number of dives cannot be given. It all depends on ice and weather conditions.
You must be in good physical and mental health. Any physical condition requiring special attention, diet, or treatment must be reported in writing when the reservation is made. Waterproof Expeditions reserves the right to decline acceptance of any person as a member of a program.
Ice diving requires an extensive amount of additional equipment because of the cold weather and water, and the remote location involved. Diving is no fun if you are cold.
Divers in cold water may have a higher air consumption rate, expend more energy, and can become more fatigued. Cold water also decreases a diver’s ability to perform complex tasks that require manual dexterity.
Staying warm is an important element in your polar diving adventure.
The dive operation on board provides tanks, a compressor and weights. Each diver needs to bring his own equipment. Before you come on board you must have tested your equipment to make sure you are comfortable with it and it is not damaged.
Normal regulators will not function in sub-freezing water as both the first and second stage will freeze. You are required to bring two sets of regulators (1st & 2nd stage), suitable for cold-water/ice diving. Some regulators can be fitted with an environmental seal kit, others come environmentally sealed from the manufacturer.
To avoid regulator malfunction, regulators must be cared for properly before, during and after diving. Regulators should be kept dry and warm before the dive; store them in your cabin. Avoid breathing from the regulator before submersion, except to briefly ensure it is functioning, but when doing so, exhale after removing the regulator from your mouth so as to avoid freezing the second stage with moisture from the exhaled breath.
If during the dive your primary regulator freezes up and causes a free flow, you should switch to you back-up regulator, and turn off the valve to the primary regulator to stop the free flow. The dive must be aborted in any case.
You need two sets of regulators;
1st set includes:
Freeze protected First stage, Second stage (incl. hose), Hose for BC, Pressure gage / computer
2nd set includes: Freeze protected First stage , Second stage (incl. hose), Hose for Dry suit
Diving is an equipment intensive activity. Ice diving requires an extensive amount of additional equipment because of the cold weather and water, and the remote location involved. Diving is no fun if you are cold. Divers in cold water may have a higher air consumption rate, expend more energy, and can become more fatigued. Cold water also decreases a diver’s ability to perform complex tasks that require manual dexterity. Staying warm is an important element in your polar diving adventure.