Union Glacier Camp
Elevation: 2,297ft (700m)
Our main 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 1,859 miles (2991 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses 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. We also provide wash basins if you don’t want to take a full shower and many guests bring pre-moistened towelettes such as Wet Wipes to use in between showers. 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 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!
Limited charging facilities are available in the Dining Tent. Two types of outlets are available: USB and 120V A/C (North American Type A or B plugs). 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.
Renting equipment in Antarctica saves you the cost and hassle of international shipping. Snowmobiles, generators, and small pulks are the most frequently requested items, but we can also provide camping equipment, skis, and more. All items must be requested well in advance.
Our fully-equipped workshop can tackle almost any maintenance, repair or fabrication task. Equipment includes welders (mig/tig/arc), lathe, plasma cutter, and crimper for hydraulic hose manufacturing.
Our team of mechanics and operators have extensive experience working in Antarctica and other cold, snowy environments. They are true MacGyver’s and can get almost any engine running again.
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 Daylight Time (GMT +13 hours).
ALE has everything you need to set-up, stock, and staff a deep-field camp, leaving you more time to focus on your project. We can supply individual items and services, such as feeder flights, cargo delivery, equipment rental, and guides. Or we can provide a fully staffed field camp and guides to support your project. Our team includes guides with specific experience in science and film support.
Four season mountaineering tents are used as field tents when staying outside of Union Glacier Camp. All of our field tents are modified for polar use, including the addition of snow valences (to help anchor the tent and prevent snow blowing between the tent body and tent fly). These small, lightweight tents are effectively heated by solar radiation and can reach temperatures up to 80F (25C) on a sunny, warm day! Each make and model has a slightly different design that makes it suitable for specific conditions.