Camping with the Emperor Penguins

The Most Fascinating Bird on the Planet


November 9 days

Emperor-Penguins-Map-389x320The Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is considered the only ‘true’ Antarctic bird. Breeding during the Antarctic winter when night lasts for months and temperatures drop as low as 60°C below zero, the males incubate the single egg atop their feet for approximately 60 days while their mates are at sea.

The males huddle together in heat-conserving scrums, with the egg carefully balanced on their feet because they have no nest. Not only is the Emperor the largest and most vividly coloured of the penguin species – it also produces the most appealing chicks. Breeding in large colonies, Emperors are sheltered by icebergs and coastal ice cliffs.

Until 1990 the ability to observe this majestic creature was out of reach for private individuals. Then Adventure Network International, as a pioneering trip, took four photo journalists and Frank Todd, a world renowned ornithologist, to a remote colony on the southern coast of the Weddell Sea. The trip was an instant success and we have continued to take photographers and enthusiasts each year since.

Camp near an Emperor Penguin colony on the remote southern coast of the Weddell Sea.

Observe the largest of the 17 penguin species, standing 1-meter tall and weighing 40kg.

Learn habits of these fascinating birds from our staff expert ornithologist.
See thousands of majestic ‘emps’ and newly hatched chicks.

Emperor-penguin-parents-bow-over-chick_260_lo_resizedDay 1

Fly to Antarctica

Fly from Chile to Antarctica by private transport jet. Land on ice runway. Settle in at Union Glacier Camp.

Nine-Emperor-penguin-chicks_196_hi_resizedDay 2

Acclimatise to Antarctica

Today is an easy day to acclimatise to Antarctic conditions. We will have an orientation to camp and life in Antarctica, review expedition logistics with our guide, and enjoy a presentation by our staff naturalist about coastal wildlife and wildlife viewing procedures.

Adult-Emperors-huddle-for-warmth-in-a-snowstorm_193_hi_resizedDay 3

Fly to the rookery

After a leisurely breakfast we pack up and fly by ski aircraft to the remote south coast of the Weddell Sea.

We land on multi-year sea ice near the Emperor rookery and our guides set up a cozy field camp beside the aircraft.

The rest of the day is ours to explore and we have our first audience with the Emperors.


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Living with the Emperors

Experience the rhythms of the rookery at your own pace over the five days. Take guided walks with our ANI naturalist or do your own thing. Meal times are flexible so you can photograph and explore when the lighting and mood are just right. Meals are prepared by our guides and include hot meals and portable snacks.

Watch adults display and feed their young. Listen to trumpeting and whistling calls as parents and chicks search for one another. If lucky, we’ll photograph Weddell seals lazing by tide cracks. And at each step we’ll marvel at the magnificence of where we are. Each night, fall asleep to the mingled calls of thousands of Emperors.

At the end of our last day we pack-up the aircraft and fly back to Union Glacier Camp, where we will enjoy a celebration dinner and share stories with other adventurers.

im_54_hi_resizedDay 9

Return to Punta Arenas, Chile

The aircraft from Punta Arenas will arrive with a new collection of avid explorers and you depart for the final leg of your Antarctic experience. Our ANI staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel.

* Schedule
No two Antarctic experiences are exactly the same. This is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. The itinerary above highlights typical activities and experiences. Exact timeline and details will vary from trip to trip. Trip length may vary by departure

Please anticipate delays and do not plan anything for at least a week after your scheduled return. Allow yourself to enjoy this unique experience without the stress of pending commitments.

Union Glacier Camp

In the spectacular and remote southern Ellsworth Mountains

Our main Antarctic camp is located in the southern Ellsworth Mountains, on the broad expanse of Union Glacier. The setting is spectacular.

The accommodation spacious and comfortable. The meals fresh and delicious. The service and support unparalleled. Majestic peaks rise in all directions offering plenty of opportunities for scenic excursions, technical climbs and ski tours. At camp there is little wind, providing a comfortable environment to relax and take it all in.

We are 1,870 miles (3010 km) from the southern tip of Chile and a stone’s throw from Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica. Our nearest neighbours are at the South Pole, just over 600 miles (1000km) away. Our geographic location is 79°46′S 82°52′W. And our elevation 2, 297ft (700m) above sea level.

ANI_Patriot_Hills4501_resizedOnly Accessible by Air

Union Glacier Camp is only accessible by air and your journey begins with a 4 ¼ hour flight from Punta Arenas, Chile.

Our wheeled aircraft lands on a naturally-occurring ice runway on the Union Glacier, where you take your first steps in Antarctica. Climb aboard one of our specially adapted vans for the 5 mile (8km) ride to camp, where a warm welcome awaits you.

im_25_hi_resizedThe Only Facility of its Kind

Union Glacier is the only facility of its kind in Antarctica. Our full-service camp operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January).

We also maintain and operate the ice runway, a separate skiway and an efficient logistics hub to provide support to private expeditions and National Antarctic Programs.

9007491083_bd0a9d650c-319x320_resizedSleeping Accommodations

Our double-walled sleeping tents are roomy and comfortable. They are well suited to Antarctic conditions and are based on a design used by Shackleton’s Endurance expedition. Each tent houses two guests.

You sleep in your polar sleeping bag with a double mattress, pillow and linen provided by ANI. The tents are naturally heated by the 24-hour sunlight and interior temperatures range from 25°F – 68°F (4°C – 20°C).


The dining tent is the heart of our camp. It has a full kitchen and dining area and serves as a gathering place for meals, activities and conversation. You will enjoy hearty, fresh-cooked meals, baked goods and tantalizing desserts prepared by our chefs.

Self-serve snacks and beverages are available anytime. We regularly fly in fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meats and a variety of beers and Chilean wines from Punta Arenas, Chile. Wine and beer are served with dinner.


At each turn a new experience awaits. Take in wide open vistas from the top of Charles Peak. Explore ice pools in the Elephant Head Valley. Ramble along multi-colored Spectrum Ridge. Cross country ski over frozen fields of sastrugi. Photograph wind sculpted clouds, unusual snow features and a thousand shades of white. Navigate using GPS. Carve snow sculptures.  Or simply relax and take it all in. For the more adventurous, try ice climbing on the massive windscoop surrounding Charles Peak, scramble up the serpentine Ridge of Mount Rossman or camp out on the polar plateau.

Poor weather days provide opportunities for talks and skills sessions on diverse Antarctic themes. You can escape with a puzzle, game or DVD in our heated multipurpose tent. Sketch or paint. Meet other explorers and adventurers from around the world. Or relax with a book from our library. Whatever you choose to do, take time to experience the immense space and solitude that is Antarctica.


Union Glacier has a small clinic staffed by a doctor and medic. They are available to treat minor injuries and illness or in case of a medical emergency. We stock a selection of medications and fundamental equipment for the care and stabilization of patients. More about safety and medical support

5388077585_99b5d7fa43-319x320_resizedCommunications and Meteorology

Good communication and weather information are crucial for safe operations. Not surprising then that our Comms facility is the center of our “on ice” operations.

We use satellite phone, VHF and HF radio to maintain regular contact with our Punta Arenas office, field parties, aircraft and other bases. You can make outgoing Iridium phone calls from Union Glacier and Vinson Base Camps. Pre-paid phone cards may be purchased at Union Glacier or Vinson Base Camps.

Our meteorologist uses local observations, information from our automatic weather stations and satellite imagery to provide wind and weather information to flight crews, climbers and expeditions.

Power and Charging

Our systems are solar-powered to minimize our environmental impact. We are able to offer limited solar/charging facilities to our guests.

You will need a 12V DC-DC charger capable of plugging in to a “female” cigarette lighter socket, or a 110V charger with North American plug,  to use the system.


Specially adapted 4×4 passenger vans are used for excursions around Union Glacier and to shuttle guests to and from the runway. We also own a fleet of specialized vehicles for snow clearing, runway maintenance and ground transportation in Antarctica.

These include an industrial snow-blower, several tractors, snowcat, skiway groomer and a number of snowmobiles and sleds. A team of mechanics operate and maintain these machines.

Two twin-engine, ski aircraft transport passengers, cargo and fuel beyond Union Glacier Camp. Our ski aircraft park to one side of camp and use a separate skiway.

Dates & Cost

Dates & Cost

10-18 Nov, 21-29 Nov 9 days
Camping with Emperor Penguins

*We reserve the right to revise our prices in the event of significant changes in the price of aviation kerosene and aircraft charter rates.

What’s included

What’s included

  • Transfers to and from airport for Antarctic flights.
  • Round trip flight from Punta Arenas, Chile to Antarctica including 25kg luggage allowance.
  • All programmed flights within Antarctica.
  • Meals and accommodation during your stay in the Antarctic.
  • Celebration dinner after returning from the Emperor Penguin colony.
  • Support of Field Guides and staff Physician throughout your journey.
  • Use of recreational equipment while in Union Glacier, Antarctica.
  • Guided trekking, light climbing tours and activities around Union Glacier area.
  • Official Emperor Penguin customised certificate.

What’s not included

What’s not included

  • Commercial flights to and from Punta Arenas Chile.
  • Meals and accommodation other than while in Antarctica.
  • Airport transfers other than those for Antarctic flights.
  • Personal equipment and clothing (polar clothing is available for rent).
  • Any additional expenses while in Punta Arenas due to delays.
  • Any baggage costs over the confirmed program allowance.
  • Insurance Coverage – Personal, Medical, Evacuation, or otherwise.

How to book

How to book

To initiate your reservation, please contact us as soon as possible to place an option on the voyage and cabin grade of your choice. The Booking Form is to be signed, completed and returned to Adventure Associates along with your deposit. Reservations are established only when you receive written confirmation and acceptance of the deposit payment and Booking Form.

All balances must be made in USA Dollars (US$) by bank draft made payable to ‘Adventure Associates’. Please contact us for our account details should you wish to pay by telegraphic transfer. Deposits may be made by credit card for direct bookings only.Cancellations and RefundsWritten instructions only will be accepted by Adventure Associates to cancel a reservation. Cancellation charges are subject to regulations or airlines, cruise companies, coach and tour operators, hotels and any other Principals involved.

If it is necessary to cancel your arrangements, the following non-refundable provisions will apply.If cancellation occurs within the 89 day period and full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty will still apply and unpaid monies are due immediately.

Deposit required: US$5,000 per person
Balance due: 90 days prior to departure.
If booking within89 days of departure: full payment must be made
More than 90 days prior to departure US$2,000 per person cancellation fee
On or within 89 days prior to departure Loss of 100% of total booking cost.