Getting There
Getting to Antarctica is neither easy nor cheap, but there are several ways to accomplish it:

Get Paid To Go

Sign on with the support contractor.
This is the company whose job it is to provide logistic support to the U.S. Antarctic Program. Currently the position is held by Raytheon Polar Services Company (RPSC), in Centennial, Colorado. Supporting the Antarctic Program means everything from loading helicopters to counting beakers to serving meals to guiding scientists in the field. For employment information and a complete list of job openings, contact:

Raytheon Polar Services Company
7400 South Tucson Way
Centennial, CO 80112
(800) 688-8606

Advantages: You get paid for being there.

Drawbacks: It's hard work and long hours, and it's cold. And unless you have the right job, most of your time is spent on station, indoors, looking at Antarctica but not much experiencing it.

Get a job with a science team.
Scientists in all disciplines, from universities and colleges all across the U.S., get grants funded by the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs (NSF/OPP) to do research in Antarctica. If you're in college, there's a reasonable chance that a professor from your campus heads south each year. If you can hook up as a student, technician, or post-doc with one of these people, you may be on your way. Most of the time these researchers take their own students, but sometimes they need people with particular skills, such as graphic design, electronic engineering, or specific laboratory techniques.

To find out which scientists are going, check the RPSC web site mentioned above, or contact the NSF/OPP at:


Advantages: You get to actually get out into the wilds of Antarctica and experience the magic.

Drawbacks: It's really cold out there, the work is harder, the hours longer, and you generally don't get paid much.

Get a job with the National Science Foundation.
This is not particularly easy to do, but it's possible. Generally, only people who have previously worked in Antarctica, either as scientists or for the support contractor, or who are career government bureaucrats can get a job here. If you're new to the idea of going south, pass on this option.

Advantages: While you're in Antarctica, you get to be the big cheese.

Drawbacks: It's a lot of responsibility.

Work for Adventure Network International (ANI).
This is a private company that sponsors tours and expeditions to Antarctica. ANI charters airplanes to fly rock climbers and other adventurers to ANI's base of operations in the Patriot Hills, and sometimes on to the South Pole. They must need people to operate their camp (i.e., keep the generators running, cook the meals, etc.). If you're a world class mountain climber and cold weather survival expert, you might pull together your own set of clients and contract with ANI to get you and your group to Antarctica. To look into either of these options, contact ANI at:

Adventure Network International
4800 N. Federal Highway
Suite 307 D
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Tel: 561-237-2359
Toll Free: 866-395-6664
Fax: 561-347-7523


Advantages: You get to see the real, unspoiled vastness of Antarctica.

Drawbacks: Some of your clients are bound to be rich, pampered wannabes, and you're going to be busy taking care of them.




Pay To Go

Go on a cruise.
Yes, there are (at last count) 40 cruise ships from several countries that sail to Antarctica. They run the spectrum from spartan to luxurious, and they sail a variety of itineraries. Most go only to the Antarctic Peninsula (that finger that juts up toward South America) and the islands of the Sub-Antarctic, but some of the larger, ice-strengthened ones venture occasionally into the southern Ross Sea. For more information, contact the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO):

International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators
IAATO Office
Executive Director, Denise Landau
PO Box 2178 Basalt, CO 81621 USA
Phone: 970-704-1047
Fax: 970-704-9660

Advantages: You see the land in relative comfort, and you are able to get off the ship and visit historic sites and penguin colonies.

Drawbacks: It generally isn't cheap, and if you and your tour operator aren't environmentally conscious, you may be doing your part to disrupt a very sensitive ecosystem. (Fortunately, IAATO members abide by guidelines meant to protect the environment . Given that you have a choice of tour companies, you're better off going with an IAATO member.)

Sail your own boat to Antarctica.
Several people do it every year, but mostly just to the northern reaches of the Peninsula. Hey, if you've got the boat, the sailing experience, and a large helping of courage, go for it.

Advantages: You get to experience the Great Southern Ocean just like the early explorers. There'll be times when it's just you and a pod of humpback whales lolling around. Magic.

Drawbacks: You get to experience the Great Southern Ocean just like the early explorers. It killed a lot of them.

Pay Adventure Network International.
They'll take you, if you've got the dough and are in reasonably decent physical condition. See contact information above.

Advantages: You get to see the real, unspoiled vastness of Antarctica.

Drawbacks: It'll cost you.

Mount your own private expedition.
Your own planes, your own boat, your own field camp. Don't even contemplate this unless you have several million dollars in disposable income. On the other hand, if you DO have several million dollars, contact me at

Advantages: You get to go where you want and you're the boss.

Drawbacks: It'll cost you several million dollars.



Antarctica Online, Copyright © 1998-2006 MastroMedia.
All rights reserved.
Menu Bar