Camps & Hotels in Antarctica: 8 Best Places to Stay

Camps & Hotels in Antarctica: 8 Best Places to Stay

If you’re wondering how to visit Antarctica, one of the first things you’ll be thinking about is where to stay. Luckily, there are a few different options which we’ll share in this ultimate guide to accommodation in Antarctica.

Accommodation in Antarctica: How Does it Work?

The majority of people who visit Antarctica will take an Antarctic expedition cruise. This is the most economical and most popular way to visit the southernmost continent.

These expeditions include accommodation on board the ship for the entire journey, so you don’t need to worry about booking accommodation in Antarctica.

However, if you would prefer to stay at a hotel or campsite in Antarctica, you will need to book one of the below packages from White Desert or ALE. 

These are more expensive as they involve flying to Antarctica rather than traveling on a ship, but they typically involve a much deeper exploration of the continent and more activities that a cruise expedition won’t be able to offer.


Are There Hotels in Antarctica?

No, there are no hotels in Antarctica. However, it’s possible to stay overnight on the continent as there are 8 different camps that are currently open to tourists.

These camps are operated by 2 different companies:

  • White Desert
  • Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE)

It’s not possible to book the campsites on their own, for both operators, you will need to book a full package which includes flights, overnight stays, activities, and everything else you’ll need for a great trip to Antarctica.

Keep in mind that staying at a campsite is a much more expensive way to visit Antarctica than visiting by expedition ship.

White Desert vs ALE

So, which operator is best? Well, White Desert and ALE offer very different experiences. 

White Desert camps are more luxurious with elaborate dining rooms, cozy decor, and actual beds to sleep in, think next-level glamping. (View all White Desert tours and the latest pricing)

On the other hand, ALE camps have more basic facilities but are generally cheaper to book. They also have more camps including one near a penguin colony, one at the south pole, and one at the foot of a mountain, so you can have a really diverse trip full of activities. (View all ALE tours and the latest pricing)

Keep in mind that White Desert packages include flights to Antarctica from Cape Town, South Africa, whereas ALE packages include flights from Punta Arenas, Chile. This may also affect your decision.

If we had to choose one to recommend to tourists, it would be White Desert. But you’ll have an unforgettable experience no matter which one you choose.


Map of Hotels and Camps in Antarctica

For some reference, White Desert camps are all located close to one another in East Antarctica whereas ALE camps are spread across West Antarctica. Here is a map of the main camps in Antarctica:


Where to Stay in Antarctica

The 8 places to stay in Antarctica are:

Below is a guide to each of these camps, what they offer, and how to book them.

Best Overall: Whichaway (by White Desert)

Fly from Cape Town, South Africa

Whichaway is the flagship camp from White Desert and offers the best all-around experience for visitors to Antarctica.

It is made up of several polar pods including 6 sleeping pods, a dining pod, a lounge, a kitchen, a library, and a bathroom.

When visiting Whichaway, you can spend time at the camp enjoying a sauna with a view or cocktails by the fire, or you can take part in nearby activities such as ice tunnels, rock climbing, abseiling, a rope walk, and a zipline.

As with all Whichaway camps, there is a sense of luxury with proper beds to sleep in, a fully functional bathroom, and an on-site gourmet chef who will make sure you eat well.

From this camp, you can also take a 2.5hr flight to see nearby Emperor Penguins, however, if you want to stay near the colony and spend more time viewing them, check out Gould Bay Camp at the end which is much closer.

Packages for Whichaway camp:


Boutique Sky Pods: Echo (by White Desert)

Fly from Cape Town, South Africa

Echo is the newest accommodation from White Desert which only opened in 2022. Although it is still a campsite, this is as close as you’ll get to a hotel in Antarctica. 

You can expect to live in pods, however, these ones are far more futuristic and luxurious. The pods have been inspired by space travel and are made entirely from fiberglass, with full-length windows that allow you to look out across the Antarctic landscape.

It is about 120km (75 miles) from their original Whichaway camp, a journey that takes around 20 minutes by flight, and is available as an optional upgrade on the same two packages. 

The activities you can take part in are generally similar but you’re paying around 4-6% more for the luxuries of futuristic decor and an en-suite bathroom. With the original campsite being in such high demand, this may also be a good way to secure a closer trip date.

Packages for Echo camp:


For the Holtedahl Mountains: Wolf’s Fang (by White Desert)

Fly from Cape Town, South Africa

The final option from White Desert is their Wolf’s Fang camp. true to their other two camps, this one also has an ere of luxury although it is made from heated tents rather than pods. You can still expect heated bedrooms with real beds, en-suite bathrooms.

Wolf’s Fang is just 1.5km (1 mile) from the Echo camp but is currently only available for booking as part of the Antarctic Summit package which includes a hike up the Holtedahl Mountains and several nights at field camps along the way.

Before and after your hike, you can enjoy ultimate relaxation time at Wolf’s Fang which has a superb lounge tent.

Packages for Wolf’s Fang camp:


Best for Activities: Union Glacier (by ALE)

Fly from Punta Arenas, Chile

If you opt to take a package with Antarctica Logistics & Expeditions (ALE), you’ll get to experience their flagship campsite called Union Glacier.

Unlike White Desert camps which are year-round constructions, most of ALE’s camps including Union Glacier are seasonal camps that are taken down at the end of the tourist season.

Union Glacier is made up of 2-person tents and can hold up to 70 people at a time, making it far larger than White Desert camps which usually max out at around 12 guests.

The tents are not heated, but they have a wooden floor to provide insulation and you’ll sleep on a single mattress.

The camp is located in West Antarctica where there are lots of activities in the surrounding areas, including cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, and skydiving. if you prefer to spend some time at the camp, there is a large dining tent which is the hub of the site or you can check out the polar library which has plenty of books, movies, and games.

Every ALE package includes a stay at Union Glacier as this is their main camp and you’ll need to transfer from here to the other camps. However, here are the packages where Union Glacier is the main camp you’ll stay at:


For Antarctic Luxury: Three Glaciers Retreat (by ALE)

Fly from Punta Arenas, Chile

If you prefer a touch of luxury but don’t want to splash out for the more expensive White Desert packages, then you’re in luck because ALE also has the Three Glaciers Retreat upgrade which can be added on to any of their packages.

Unlike the small clam tents at their main camp, these tents are much more spacious with full beds (options for twin-room or king size), satin sheets, and duvets. The tents are all heated and equipped with charging points for your electronics. There’s also a private patio for each tent as well as common spaces including a dining room and a lounge.

Three Glaciers Retreat is not far from the main camp so the activities available are generally the same, you’re just paying that little bit extra for a more comfortable stay.

Packages for Three Glaciers Retreat:


For Visiting the South Pole: South Pole Camp (by ALE)

Fly from Punta Arenas, Chile

The most southerly tourist accommodation in Antarctica sits just 1km (0.6 miles) from the Geographic South Pole, this is ALE’s South pole Camp. In fact, there’s a flagged route between the camp and the Pole.

Again, this is a seasonal camp made from double-walled, heated tents. There are no beds or mattresses here so you’ll be sleeping on padded sleeping mats with sleeping bags and pillows.

There is a large tent at the center of the camp where most activity takes place. There’s also a large heated dining camp with meals prepared by talented chefs.

Most people visit this camp for the activities it offers and packages usually combine the South pole Camp with other ALE camps. Some of the popular activities include skiing, visiting the South Pole Visitor Center, and visiting the Amundsen-Scott research base.

Keep in mind that this camp is at a high altitude so you may experience some symptoms of altitude sickness, however, a doctor accompanies all tour groups so you’ll be in safe hands.

Packages for South Pole Camp:


For Climbing Mount Vinson: Vinson Base Camp (by ALE)

Fly from Punta Arenas, Chile

As its name suggests, Vinson Base Camp is the main camp for those visiting Mount Vinson. The base camp is located just 95 miles (151 km) away from Union Glacier.

The main reason to visit this camp is if you plan to climb Mount Vinson. The heated base camp tent provides a dining & relaxation area pre and post-climb.

When climbing the mountain, you’ll stay at two field camps along the route known as low camp and high camp. Vinson Base Camp is the point of contact for these field camps, providing meals, coordinating with visiting guides, and there to assist in case of an emergency on the mountain.

Packages for Vinson Base Camp:


For Emperor Penguins: Gould Bay Camp (by ALE)

Fly from Punta Arenas, Chile

If seeing Emperor Penguins is a high priority on your visit to Antarctica, then you’ll want to try and stay at Gould Bay Camp. This is the only tourist camp on sea ice in Antarctica and one of the most remote camps.

The tents at this camp are set up for the penguin viewing season. They are generally about 1km from the penguin colony with flagged paths to mark the route between the camp and the colony.

As for accommodation, this is one of the most basic setups of all the camps in Antarctica. You’ll stay in 1 or 2-person mountain tents with a sleeping mat and sleeping bag, however, there is no heating in these tents like many of the other camps and hotels and no shower facilities either.

In most cases, you’ll only spend a few days of your tour here to immerse yourself with the penguins, then return to Union Glacier camp where there are better facilities and other activities.

Packages for Gould Bay Camp:

Kieren

Kieren is the founder of Polar Guidebook. After visiting both of the polar regions and meeting the scientists and tour guides that work there, he developed a keen interest in the animals, climate, and geography of the Arctic and Antarctica.