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Penguins gathering on the shore

Early Emperors at Echo Camp

Example 6 Day Tour
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Discover the Emperor Penguin Colony on the shore of Atka Bay and explore the spectacular backdrop of ice cliffs, pressure ridges, and icebergs of the Antarctic. Join this 6-day Early Emperor's Antarctic Expedition and experience this breathtaking place in luxury. With the help of an experienced guide and wildlife watchers sharing their knowledge of the local wildlife and environment, take a ski plane and see the vast icy expanse contrasting the Emperor penguin colony. While staying in a luxurious camp inspired by astronauts, join multiple activities at the Camp, like discovering nearby ice tunnels, ice waves, a blue river, and a crystal cave network. This expedition offers an unforgettable journey to the frozen continent's awe-inspiring landscapes and remarkable wildlife adventures.
Emperor's Penguin Colony in Atka BayTravelers looking for Emperor PenguinsCrystal Cave ActivitiesAbseilingIce ClimbingChampagne PicnicsFat BikingEmperor penguins in AntarcticaEmperor penguins and chicksPenguins gathering on the shore
  • Cross the Polar Circle and explore remote areas of Antarctica.
  • Stay at Echo, a unique and luxurious camp inspired by astronauts
  • Flights by ski plane to a massive Emperor penguin colony in Atka Bay
  • Photograph penguins, seals, and seabirds in the untouched wilderness
Places Visited
Activity Level: Moderate
Activities that provide a reasonable level of physical challenge and elevate the heart rate. Focused on more active pursuits including multisport tours. Travelers may be active 5-7 hours total each day. Recommended for travelers with active lifestyles.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Cape Town | Fly to Antarctica

Today, kick off your adventure by flying over thousands of icebergs on a 5-hour flight across the Southern Ocean from Cape Town to Antarctica. During the flight, you will enter the Polar Circle and the continuous daylight of the Antarctic summer.

After landing on the ancient blue ice of the runway, you will transfer to the camp at Echo and take in the view as you stretch your legs on a quick pedal around your new home via fat bike.

* It is a mandatory requirement that all participants arrive in Cape Town, South Africa, at least two to three days before your scheduled flight to Antarctica. This is to allow flexibility should your flight be brought forward due to weather conditions – something that can, and does, happen! White Desert will host a mandatory safety briefing in Cape Town one day prior to "Day 1" of your itinerary to ensure your readiness for your upcoming adventure. The experienced team will personally inspect your equipment and polar clothing and hold briefings and orientations to ensure all participants are adequately equipped and prepared. 

Day 2: Explore Echo Camp

Settle into Echo and do as much or as little as you like each day. Activities range from gentle treks to the incredible ice waves, summiting a nunatak, ice climbing, and even abseiling!

After the day’s activities, you will hear a talk about the incredible life cycle of the Emperor Penguins in preparation for your visit the following day. 

Echo Camp offers a variety of group excursions and plenty of activities you can do on your own around the camp. While at the Camp, you are free to join an active or relaxed lifestyle.

Ice Tunnels - The seasonal meltwater carves a path through the ice waves, forming deep tunnels of iridescent blue ice at the base of the Oasis. Exploring the tunnels is truly a magical experience.

Crystal Caves - The meltwater flows through tunnels and caves that will defy our guests’ imagination. The ancient ice, created over millennia, has so little air trapped within it that it turns blue – and is a perfect accompaniment to a cocktail!

Nunatak Climb - With the help of an expert guides, scale a blue-ice glacier and reach the easy summit of "Nunatak" Mountain for spectacular views

Rope Walk - On a hike that is as safe as it is spectacular, guides lead the guests on an easy traverse across a 200-foot cliff with an incredible view of the ice waves below.

Day 3: Fly to Atka Bay | Emperor Penguin Colony

This morning,  fly 2.5 hours across Antarctica on a BT-67 aircraft, enjoying immense views of the High Polar Plateau before landing at the Emperor Penguin colony at Atka Bay. At the colony’s height in November/ December, you’ll see over 14,000 breeding pairs and their newly hatched chicks - a spectacle full of noise and energy that is a favorite with wildlife watchers and photographers.

Wrapped up in the sights and sounds of thousands of penguins, you will be among the very few who have ever witnessed such a spectacle, observing the real-life stars of March of the Penguins.

There are so few visitors to this colony that the chicks are unafraid of humans and often waddle close by. Mindful of our responsibility to the wildlife and of IAATO guidelines, we keep at least 5m (16.4ft) from the Penguins. Looking in every direction, all you’ll see is a vast icy expanse contrasting the penguins’ shimmering feathers.


Day 4: Explore Echo Camp

While at Echo Camp, spend the day exploring the the nearby the mountains and enjoy a gentle hike overlooking the endless ice sheet, followed by a champagne picnic.

In the afternoon, head off with your guide, winding your way through the snow and ice to an incredible vantage point where you can take in the panoramic view over the mountains that you have just explored.

Day 5: Explore Echo Camp

An adventurous hike along a winding cliff face affords guests stunning views over the last pristine wilderness on Earth.. A team of world-class mountain guides will lead you on this challenging hike, ensuring your safety at all times on this unforgettable day. Be sure not to forget your camera!

Day 6: Fly to Cape Town | Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
The flight out of Antarctica will be the last of your enduring Antarctic memories before you delve back into the vibrant energy of Africa. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel, where you will have a chance to relax and reflect on your Antarctic adventure!

It is a mandatory requirement that all participants plan at least  two to three days minimum in Cape Town, South Africa at the end of your scheduled flight back from Antarctica in order to be prepared for any unforeseen flight changes or delays. 

Please Note: This itinerary is entirely subject to weather conditions in Antarctica and is meant purely as a guide to what guests may expect day by day. The exact sequence of activities and the types of aircraft mentioned may vary. Antarctica is a bucket list trip for a reason - Mother Nature reigns supreme here, that’s what makes it a true adventure.


Echo Camp by White Desert

Echo Camp by White Desert
Echo Camp by White Desert
Echo Camp Domed Sky Pod

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  • 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners
  • 5 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • All private airport transfer and ground transportation as per the program
  • A mandatory safety briefing and lectures by expedition team held the day before your scheduled flight into Antarctica
  • Return flight to Antarctica with a 23kg for hold luggage and 7kg for hand luggage
  • The use of certain items of polar clothing, as denoted on the equipment list.
  • Payment by White Desert Ltd of a ‘Carbon Tax’ for offsetting. emissions created by all logistics associated with Antarctic travel
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Commercial flights to and from Cape Town, South Africa
  • Accommodation and meals whilst in Cape Town
  • Polar Clothing (you will be sent a tailored kit list in advance of your trip to help you purchase the necessary items)
  • Additional expenses incurred in Cape Town due to any delay and baggage costs over the agreed amount
  • Use of a satellite phone while in Antarctica
  • Coverage for all members of the party, in respect of medical care and emergency repatriation costs, for a minimum of $500,000 (USD) per person and for a minimum of 5 days beyond the expected return date.


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.


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