We've thought of everything
The hallmark of these expeditions is our ability to go where others simply can't take you. We make more landings to reach the sites and wildlife you want to see, as well as incredible places you may never have heard of. Our Expedition Leaders have the flexibility to create new plans as conditions change or unexpected opportunities arise.
Breaking the Ice
State-of-the-art icebreakers are renowned not only in the realm of adventure travel, but in polar navigation generally. They're among a select group of vessels with the capability - and the mandate - to take you through the pack ice to the remotest High Arctic. The ships' double-thickness armor-plated hulls have high-tech polymer coatings and underwater air-bubbling systems designed to reduce friction to a minimum. They break through the ice not by plowing into it, but by riding up onto the surface and crushing it with their massive weight. With their multiple propellers and advanced propulsion systems, these ships have a unique combination of maneuverability and power that is amazing to see in action.
Helicopters and Zodiacs
Some icebreakers carry helicopters as well as a fleet of Zodiac landing craft to ensure you get ashore efficiently, safely and as often as conditions allow. The helicopters, when not being used for ice reconnaissance, are at our disposal for unforgettable sightseeing tours above the Arctic expanses or to whisk you to otherwise inaccessible sites for guided tours on foot. Similarly, your Expedition Team uses the nimble Zodiacs to make frequent small-group landings on isolated shores, and for excursions along the coast to view natural wonders - calving glaciers, pods of feeding whales, seabird colonies along the cliffs - from the closest vantage point.
Average polar temperature is approximately 0°C (32°F), although sometimes it may get lower because of the chill factor caused by the wind. For this reason, it is best to wear several layers of light, warm clothing, with a windproof and waterproof jacket and pants as outside layer. The suggested clothing for polar regions is very similar to skiing equipment.
- Thermal socks
- Thermal underwear including sweatshirts and turtlenecks.
- Fleece jacket and trousers
- Waterproof hooded parka or jacket
- Insulated or waterproof trousers
- Thermal gloves or mittens.
- Polar cap, hat, or balaclava hood
- Swimsuit (for possible hot spring dips)
- Comfortable clothes to wear on board
(Onboard temperature 20°-22°C or 68-72F)
- Comfortable rubber-soled shoes to wear onboard.
As some polar landings are “wet landings”, the best footwear is knee-high waterproof boots.
Check with us to see if these are supplied on your voyage or if you will need to bring them with you.
Good quality UV filtering sunglasses are essential. Due to the high reflectance of UV radiation, you will alsoneed good sun block lotion for your face (protection factor 30 and above) and lip balm.
Do not forget to take with you:
- Personal medications
- Backpack to carry your belongings during shore excursions.
Photographic tips for Polar travel
Whilst in Antarctica and the Arctic there will be many opportunities for photographing the stunning scenery and the incredible abundance of wildlife. To help you get the best out of your photographs, we suggest the following:
• Check that your camera is working well, before you leave home.
• If you are using a digital camera bring plenty of memory cards.
• If using a film based camera we recommend using 50 ASA or 100 ASA for slides and 100 ASA or 200 ASA for prints in Antarctica (100 for very bright days when the sun reflects off the snow harshly, and 200/400 for overcast days)
• Bring twice the amount of film you think you will be using.
• If your camera uses batteries, don’t forget to take spares with you, since cold temperatures reduce their life span considerably.
• It is best to have two cameras and lenses from 28 mm to 200 mm telephoto, or, if you have one, a 500 mm lens for close ups.
• Good lenses are: 20-35 mm, 35-70 mm, and 80-200 mm.
• Don’t forget a wide-angle lens to capture the real expanse of this unique continent.
• The use of a polarising filter is not recommended. It takes the sparkle away from the ice and snow, which is what brings it to life. Also a polariser tends to make the skies too dark.
· If you are serious about getting excellent shots, a tripod gives you more potential but it certainly is not mandatory.
Always respect the MINIMUM DISTANCE of 5 METERS, and get close only via a zoom lens. Telephoto is the best way to capture wildlife.
· When photographing, do not approach wildlife to the point where it becomes frightened, or in ways that causes them to alter their behaviour.
• Be aware that polar conditions can be very harsh on camera equipment. Carry plenty of protection for your camera against salt spray, snow, or rain. Please bring sealable cases, waterproof day packs or ‘dry bags’ but DO NOT bring lightweight plastic or rubbish bags as these can be easily blown away and are contrary to our environmental obligation.
• Please be aware of other passengers who may wish to capture the same shot as you.
And most importantly…
… forget your camera from time to time and just enjoy the spectacular scenery and wildlife!