One of the optional extras on our Antarctic adventure was to spend a night camping on the mainland of the Antarctic continent. We couldn’t pass this up, even if Sarah had reservations of how cold it might be.
We had a choice of whether to camp in bivvy bag or a tent and chose a tent for the night.
No food is allowed to be taken ashore, so after an early dinner the campers were ferried in zodiacs to a snow covered dome surrounded by water with glaciers all around, called Leith Cove. This didn’t technically feel like camping on the continent but, lo and behold, in the morning with the tide out we could see an outcrop of rock linking us to the mainland. In my mind that counts as camping on Antarctica !
Once we were dropped on site everyone spread out and set up their bivvys or tents for the night (camping is limited to 30 people and there were just under this). We were pleasantly surprised that we managed to get the tent up and our stuff inside within 10 minutes.
After everything was set we had around 2 hours or so before sunset to take in the views and enjoy the tranquility of the Antarctic. Just before we went to bed there was a huge calving event from the glacier in front of us, which caused a big wave to radiate outwards. We didn’t see it but as soon the calving happened apparently a penguin on the shore started sprinting for higher ground !
Over night we actually slept pretty well but were both drive out of the tent in the morning by the need to go to the toilet. There was a porta potti set up behind a snow wall to make sure we didn’t pollute Antarctica.
In the early morning we spent some time quietly watching a humpback whale which had swum into the lagoon. He eventually swam out through a channel only about 10m from shore giving us a great view.
The zodiacs arrived at 7am to take us back to the ship (which had retreated out of sight for the night) for a much needed hot shower and breakfast !
We didn’t get properly cold in the night but towards morning were beginning to feel a little bit chilly. We discovered talking to people back on the boat that most people didn’t find the bivvys very comfortable, primarily because it snowed for most of the night so some people got quite wet! We were glad that we chose a tent.