Our Gould Bay Camp is located in the southern Weddell Sea. The camp is on frozen sea ice, just in front of the Ronne Ice Shelf, roughly 420 miles (676 km) from ALE’s main base at Union Glacier, making it one of the most remote camps in the world and the only Antarctic tourist camp on sea ice!
Gould Bay Camp provides a simple, yet comfortable ‘nest’ from which to explore the nearby emperor penguin colony. Gould Bay Camp is run each year just for the emperor penguin viewing season. The site is very carefully chosen to avoid disturbing the penguins in any way. Tents are set up at least 1 mile (1.6 km) away from the colony and, where possible, screened from the penguins’ view by an iceberg or other natural feature. A flagged route marks the path between the colony and our camp. At the end of the viewing season, the camp is taken down and everything, including human waste, removed.
Gould Bay was discovered by the Ronne Antarctic Research Expedition (RARE) (1947-1948) which researched the area surrounding the head of the Weddell Sea. It was named for Laurence M. Gould, geologist, geographer, and second in command of the Byrd Antarctic Expedition (1928-1930).
Gould Bay guests have the option of staying in either single occupancy 4-season mountain tents or dual occupancy tents like those used by ski expedition teams. The sleeping tents are low to the ground and unheated, but you will stay nice and warm with your insulated sleeping mat and polar-rated sleeping bag.
Be prepared for all kinds of weather, from cold clear days, to warmer sunny conditions, overcast skies, or even snowstorms. Temperatures typically range from 5°F to 23°F (-15°C to -5°C), but may dip as low as -25°F (-31°C).
Meals are prepared by one of our highly skilled chefs and can include breakfasts of pancakes, bacon, and oatmeal, lunches of warm soups and cold meats and cheeses, afternoon snacks, and fantastic evening meals. Beverages include hot drinks, juice, beer, and wine. Meal times are flexible so you can photograph and explore when the lighting and mood are just right.
Showers & Toilets
Our skillful staff construct field toilets which are surprisingly comfortable and private. We clean them regularly and provide hand sanitizer in each. All waste is returned to Union Glacier Camp for proper disposal. When at the colony, you will need to use pee bottles and toilet bags to collect your waste as nothing can be left behind.
There are no showers at our Gould Bay Camp. We recommend bringing Wet Wipes or one of our staff can show you how to take a “Snow Shower,” if you are feeling brave.
Guests usually prefer to spend the majority of their time observing, photographing, and filming the penguins at the colony. Adélie penguins, Weddell seals, leopard seals, South Polar skua, snow petrels, and Antarctic petrels may also be spotted. Experienced field guides will accompany you to the colony each day and share their knowledge of this majestic wildlife.
Gould Bay Camp maintains daily communication with Union Glacier Camp using satellite phone and email communications. Guests can make outgoing satellite phone calls using our Iridium handsets. Pre-paid phone cards can be purchased at Union Glacier. Satellite internet access is for ALE operations only.
Limited charging facilities are available in the main tent and can support USB, US 110 V 3-pin electrical plugs, or 12 V DC-DC chargers capable of plugging into a “female” cigarette lighter socket. Ensure your batteries are fully charged prior to leaving Union Glacier, you have back-up batteries on hand, and you leave any unnecessary electronics behind. Please be courteous of your fellow photographers and do not leave electronics plugged in overnight.
Even though we will have 24-hour daylight throughout our stay at Gould Bay, our camp time is the same as Punta Arenas, Chile and Union Glacier, where our flights originate. Our other camps at Mount Vinson and South Pole also operate on this same time.
Gould Bay Camp Time
= GMT (UK time) -3 hours
= Eastern Standard Time (NYC time) +2 hours
= Pacific Standard Time (LA time) +5 hours.
We may adapt our schedule to the best weather and lighting for photography. Often the light for photography is best in the middle of the ‘night’ and it is not uncommon to visit the colony at 2 or 3 am to take pictures in the soft, golden sunlight. Please discuss your preferred routine with the guides in advance so they can tailor the camp schedule to include meals and sleep for everyone.
Wildlife Viewing Guidelines
Sea Ice Safety
Our camp is situated on multi-year sea ice. For your safety, always follow your guide’s instructions. Do not stray from camp or wander away from flagged routes.