Union Glacier Camp

Union Glacier Camp is the only facility of its kind in Antarctica. Our full-service private camp operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January) and is dismantled at the end of each season. Our camp not only provides accommodations to guests on guided experiences but also serves as a logistics hub, supporting private expeditions and National Antarctic Programs.

The camp is located in the spectacular and remote southern Ellsworth Mountains, on the broad expanse of Union Glacier. It is only accessible by air and all of our guests take their first steps in Antarctica here, on a naturally occurring blue-ice runway.

We are 1,870 miles (3010 km) from the southern tip of Chile and a short flight from Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica. Our neighbors at the South Pole are just over 600 miles (1000 km) away.

Accommodations

We can house up to 70 guests in our dual occupancy Clam Tents. These double-walled sleeping tents are designed to withstand Antarctic conditions with a high-tech nylon covering and durable aluminum frame that opens up like a clam shell. They are also incredibly comfortable to live in with large doors and a tall interior that allows you to stand upright and move around easily (16 ft x 8 ft or 5 m x 2.4 m). Tents are naturally heated by the 24-hour sunlight up to 60°-70°F (15°-21°C) but also have a wooden floor underneath to provide insulation from the snow and solid footing. Each guest is provided with a cot, mattress, pillow, linens, towels, and wash basin.

If you have a preference of whom you would like to share a tent with, please let us know. Otherwise we will pair you with a compatible roommate of the same gender.

Weather

The Antarctic climate is generally cold, dry, and windy. Even though it is summer, the temperatures remain below freezing at all times. Camp is typically less windy than other areas, such as the blue-ice runway, and temperatures range between 0° to 30°F (-17° to -1°C). Please keep in mind conditions can change rapidly and wind chill can make temperatures feel colder. You must bring everything on our required clothing & equipment lists so you are prepared for all conditions.

Meals

The dining tent is the heart of our camp and serves as a gathering place for all of our guests. You’ll have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world embarking on everything from a Mount Vinson summit attempt to a Ski South Pole expedition. You’ll get to mingle with our staff, who speak 15 different languages, and may have the chance to talk to scientists working on a variety of research projects.

Our talented chefs utilize a fully equipped kitchen to create fresh-cooked meals, baked goods, and fantastic desserts. You’ll be surprised at the range of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and cheese we’re able to fly in regularly from Chile. We offer a variety of hot beverages, soft drinks, juices, and water. Chilean beer and wine are served in limited quantities with dinner.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at set times. In between meals, self-serve snacks and beverages are always available. All meals are served buffet style and vegetarian options are available upon request. If you have made special dietary requests, please introduce yourself to the kitchen staff when you arrive in camp. Due to the remote location of our camp and distance from advanced medical care, we are unable to cater to those with severe food allergies.

Showers & Toilets

While at Union Glacier Camp, you’ll have access to communal showers and toilet facilities. In keeping with our mission to set the highest possible environmental standards, we try to minimize the amount of residue (grey) water we generate as well as the fuel we use to melt snow in Antarctica. We provide disinfectant hand gel in the dining tent and in all toilets and ask that guests limit shower use to every 2-3 days to conserve water. Towels are provided in your tent and body wash is available in all shower stalls but you should bring any other toiletries with you. We also provide wash basins if you don’t want to take a full shower. Many guests bring pre-moistened towelettes such as Wet Wipes to use in between showers. We do not offer laundry service in Antarctica.

All human waste is removed from Union Glacier Camp which requires us to keep urine separate from feces for ease of transport. For men, a stand-up urinal is provided in addition to a sit down toilet for feces and toilet paper. For women, two sit-down toilets are provided, one for urine and one for feces and toilet paper. During the night, most guests prefer to use a “pee bottle” in their tent. Our staff will show you the container where you empty your pee bottles behind the toilet facility. Keep in mind there are no toilets accessible during excursions outside of camp and you may want to bring your pee bottle with you in case you need it!

Activities

You can be as active or relaxed as you like while at Union Glacier. Each morning after breakfast we will meet with you to discuss the options and organize activities tailored to the weather and your interests. There are a variety of group excursions we regularly offer, described in our detailed itineraries, and plenty of activities you can do on your own around camp.

Take a walk, cross-country ski, or try out one of our fat tire bikes on the groomed 6 mi (10 km) loop. If you’re looking for something more low-key, check out a book, movie, or game in our polar library. In the evenings, we regularly offer Antarctic lectures and films. Please respect camp quiet hours between 10pm and 7am.

Communication

Satellite phone cards are available for purchase with US cash ($35 USD for 30 minutes). Please note that you are charged per attempted transmission, not per connection. You can ask for a satellite phone in our Communications Office during specified hours and can make calls from our phone booths or your own tent. Please do not use satellite phones in communal areas like the Dining Tent.

There is no mobile coverage in Antarctica. Satellite internet access is for ALE operations only. Please enjoy this digital detox!

In an emergency, your family may contact our offices in Salt Lake City (link to contact us page) and we can forward a message to you while you are on the ice. However, we will only give out information about you to those individuals listed on your Personal Information Form.

Power

Limited charging facilities are available in the Dining 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 Punta Arenas, you have back-up batteries on hand, and you leave any unnecessary electronics behind. Please be courteous of your fellow guests and do not leave electronics plugged in overnight.

Transportation

We maintain a fleet of specially adapted vehicles for ground transportation, snow clearing, and runway maintenance. These include two 4×4 and two 6×6 passenger vans, several tractors, SnoCat, industrial snow-blowers, skiway groomer, and a number of snowmobiles and sleds.

Time

Even though we operate in 24-hour daylight, Union Glacier Camp time is the same as Punta Arenas, Chile, where our flights originate. Our other camps at Mount Vinson, South Pole, and the Emperor Penguin Colony also operate on this same time.

Union Glacier Time

= GMT (UK time) -3 hours

= Eastern Standard Time (NYC time) +2 hours

= Pacific Standard Time (LA time) +5 hours.

Amundsen-Scott Station, located at the South Pole uses New Zealand Standard Time (GMT +13 hours).

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