Discover the Gould Bay Emperor Penguin Colony on the shore of the Weddell Sea. On the sea ice where you camp, tens of thousands of birds arrive to raise and feed their young. Photograph regal monarchs with their young against a breathtaking background of ice cliffs, pressure ridges, and icebergs. Look for petrels and seals among the boundless white expanse. Awaken to the sound of penguins trumpeting outside your tent.
This remote field camp gives you unmatched access to emperor penguins, so you can observe their Antarctic adaptations with expert guides.
Explore Union Glacier with activity tailored to the weather & your interest
Camp near the Gould Bay Emperor Penguin Colony, where thousands of birds raise their chicks
Explore remote areas of Antarctica with activities of your choice
Photograph penguins, seals, and seabirds in the untouched wilderness
You will receive a call at your hotel in the morning to advise you of the current conditions in Antarctica. If the weather is suitable for the flight, you will be picked you up at your hotel within the hour. Please meet in the lobby with hotel bills paid, ready to board the bus. At the Punta Arenas airport, board your chartered jet for the 4¼ hour flight to Antarctica. The route crosses the Drake Passage, then follows the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the spine of the Ellsworth Mountains. Land on a naturally occurring blue-ice runway on Union Glacier where you will take your first steps in Antarctica. Climb aboard one of the specially-adapted vans for the 5 mi (8 km) shuttle to the main camp. The friendly staff will provide a welcome tour of the camp and show you to your tent.
* Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile at least two full days prior to your schedule for briefings/orientation in order to fully prepare you for your upcoming experience.
Guests usually enjoy a few days at Union Glacier as part of their experience. A typical day at Union Glacier starts with a briefing after breakfast where you’ll meet with your guide to discuss the day’s options and choose an activity tailored to the weather and the group’s interests. Union Glacier excursions can include any of the following destinations:
Ride in one of the wheeled vehicles to this dramatic marble buttress overlooking the blue-ice runway. Geology lovers will be delighted to find this is a hotspot for ichnofossils. Your experienced guides can help you navigate by GPS to known trace fossils or accompany you on a mission to discover new ones. For photographers, beautiful ice pools and moraines offer endless opportunities to capture close-up frozen formations or wide angle glacial landscapes. Hikers can trek up to the base of Elephant’s Head or all the way to the top of Rhodes Bluff for panoramic views of Union Glacier and the Heritage Range.
Board the one-of-a-kind Tucker Bus, a custom designed tracked vehicle, for the scenic drive to the remote Buchanan Hills. You’ll arrive at a high pass that offers expansive views of Union Glacier as it flows into Constellation Inlet. Higgins Nunatak pokes through the ice, like an atoll in a frozen ocean. For the fit and adventurous, there are two easy hiking routes that require no prior experience and grant you the rare opportunity to summit a peak in the heart of Antarctica.
Named in the 1960s after geologist Benjamin Drake IV, this impressive icefall tumbles off the polar plateau into Union Glacier. Winds from the South Pole carve huge waves into the blue-ice and polish the surface into a high shine.
Charles Peak Windscoop
Discover the power of wind on ice as you wander through a sparkling turquoise corridor. If you’re truly adventurous, this is a prime place to try ice climbing with one of the experienced guides. For the less vertically inclined, you can rock hunt to your heart’s content. Just remember to leave them in place, as nothing may be removed from Antarctica.
The Beach at Rossman Cove
Another spectacular setting for photography and panoramic views! Take cross-country skis with you or a picnic lunch and enjoy Antarctica’s version of a glacial beach getaway.
If you’d prefer to stay closer to camp, there are a variety of activities for all abilities. You can check out a pair of cross-country skis or a fat-tire bike and take a spin around the groomed 10k loop or you can enjoy a cup of tea, an Antarctic book, or fun game in the camp library. In the evenings, lectures and films tailored to your experience are regularly offered. Before you depart for the colony, review the Emperor Penguin Colony Visitor Guidelines.
As soon as weather conditions permit, fly to the colony. The flight takes about 4 hours, traveling north-eastward over the Ronne Ice Shelf and Berkner Island where the plane may stop to refuel if necessary. Land on the sea ice where the staff has prepared a field camp 1-2 mi (2-3 km) from the colony. The Emperor Field Camp Manager will give you a tour of the camp and review safety procedures for travel to and from the colony. In this unfamiliar environment and remote location, it is vital that you follow the instructions given by experienced staff. Your safety and the protection of wildlife are the top priorities.
Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and rhythms of the colony. Walk to the colony with your experienced field guides to photograph penguins, seals, and seabirds. Small sleds and walking poles will be provided to help transport your camera equipment between camp and the colony. The sea ice generally provides a hard surface to walk on.
Every effort is made so as to not disturb wildlife and the Emperor Penguin Colony Visitor Guidelines are strictly adhered to. These guidelines include maintaining a precautionary distance of 17 ft (5m) away from all wildlife. The guides are on hand to answer any questions you may have about the wildlife and their unique adaptations to the Antarctic environment.
24-hour daylight allows for adaptations of the schedule to the best weather and lighting for photography. While your guides are happy to accommodate individual requests, keep in mind this is a group activity and 1 to 1 guiding may not always be an option. Please discuss your wishes with the guides in advance so they can tailor the camp schedule to include meals and sleep for everyone.
Depending on flights, you may have a few days at the end of your experience to explore more of Union Glacier. You will also enjoy a celebration dinner and receive a certificate to commemorate your Emperors and Explorers Experience in Antarctica.
Day 9: Return to Chile | Fly Home
When weather and runway conditions permit, the intercontinental aircraft will arrive at Union Glacier to transport you back to Chile. Staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you back to your hotel.
Due to the potential for weather delays, it is strongly suggested to book your flight home one week after your planned return from Antarctica. If you purchase a full-fare ticket, most airlines will allow you to move your departure date. When it is time for your flight home, you will be provided transportation from your hotel to the Punta Arenas airport.
For full cancellation policy details, please contact us for a quote.
8 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 8 Dinners
8 Nights Accommodations
Accommodations as listed
Ground transportation as listed
Activities as listed
Meals as listed
Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
Gear Rental - Use of XC Skis, Fat Tire Bikes, and Ice Cleats
Sleeping bag for South Pole Camp (if needed)
Internal Flights - Round trip flight to Antarctica from Punta Arenas
Round trip flight to Gould Bay Emperor Penguin colony from Union Glacier, Antarctica
Round trip flight to South Pole from Union Glacier, Antarctica
Flight costs (please request a quote)
Additional excursions during free time
Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
In accordance with the Antarctic Treaty requirements, all visitors to Antarctica must have adequate insurance or other arrangements in place to cover any costs associated with medical care and evacuation. All guests must hold Medical Evacuation Insurance for the duration of their experience and at least 7 DAYS BEYOND their return Antarctic flights.
$150,000 (USD) is required for Mount Vinson, Antarctic Odyssey, Skydive Antarctica, Ski Antarctica, Climb Antarctica, and Ice Marathon.
$300,000 (USD) is required for all other experiences and expeditions that travel outside the Ellsworth Mountains.
Meals and accommodation in Punta Arenas
When to Go
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Typically not offered during this period because of weather conditions.
This was our first trip to South America and we were a little nervous. But Adventure Life made things so easy! All our questions were answered before we left, and our guide, Vidal, was amazing! He gave us enough space to explore without rushing us along. He also knew where the best picture taking opportunities were, which was great.