Antarctica Inside Scoop: Kayaking!
It may seem like a crazy idea to go kayaking on the wild Antarctic Coast, but trust us – it is amazing! The kayak groups on our Antarctic trips this past season all agreed that this is a paddler’s paradise. Kayaking in Antarctica is humbling and inspiring: truly an otherworldly experience.
You move quietly through the water, past towering icebergs
and through crackling sea ice.
You come eye to eye with leopard seals.
You witness whales surfacing.
There is so much to see, sometimes you might miss some penguins swimming by!
You don’t have to be a hotshot kayaker to do this. Some previous experience is required, and if you are fairly new to kayaking we highly recommend you take a skills course before the trip. Once you are in the Antarctic our kayak guides lead you through all the steps to ensure you have a safe and incredible time on the water.
Aboard ship, and before the first kayak excursion Ashley reviews all the gear (and see our last post for a video on how to don your dry suit).
A zodiac drops you off on a beach where your kayaks are waiting – we have a selection of double and single boats, in excellent condition. (Spot the penguins!)
Daniel checks that you have your PFDs and spray suits secured correctly and your dry bags properly closed. He gives a thorough safety briefing and instructions on how to get in and out of the kayaks.
Then you are off!
And Daniel will give more instruction once you are all on the water.
Your group is always accompanied by two certified kayak guides and a zodiac support boat (from where Pablo flies his drone and captures astonishing footage).
There is no need to rush when paddling in the Antarctic. This is all about taking in the vast landscapes and allowing for wildlife encounters to happen. Our guides know how to read the behaviour of whales, and often they will call the group together to watch from a respectful distance.
Sometimes of course, the whales come to you! Like this Minke whale, that was full of curiosity for the kayaks.
At the end of each excursion, usually you go for a quick visit ashore, then return to the ship in a zodiac. The kayaks get towed back later.
Typically there are two opportunities a day for kayak excursions. This all depends on weather conditions, but on average paddlers get out between 4 and 8 times every voyage.
Kayaking is limited to 15 paddlers on each expedition and are in high demand. So if you are considering a trip to the White Continent and want to kayak there – don’t wait too long!
And for now: sit back and enjoy this video…..
- The dry suit lives up to its name – it keeps you super dry, even if you are in the water. But you’ll need to wear some warm layers underneath it. Check out the weather forecast and temperatures before donning your ‘underneath’ clothes for each excursion. Your guides will advise on what to wear, but basically it is the same gear as for shore visits, minus the waterproof pants and outer coat.
- Only use a waterproof camera when you are in the kayak. This removes a whole layer of stress and worry about keeping your photographic equipment dry.
- Don’t lean back against your seat when you’re paddling. This is one of the most common mistakes of beginner paddlers, and it can become a bad habit. If you lean forward you put way less stress on your shoulders and your paddle strokes are far more effective.