Ortelius & Plancius basecamp

Explore the Antarctic coastlines in a kayak

Imagine the swish of water is it passes your hull, or the clack of brash ice against your paddle blade. Sea kayaking in Antarctica and the Arctic allows you to experience another side of this magnificent destination.
Even the smallest piece of brash ice requires a navigation decision that you as skipper of your own little boat will be required to make. Bumping through the ice, gliding across a glassy bay with the mountains and glaciers reflected in the water, or close encounters with wildlife are experiences shared by sea kayakers.
Our highly experienced guides spend more time paddling in cold water then they do in warm waters. With a combined role of safety and interpretation, they will guide and introduce you to a slower paced, quieter environment.
Our kayak excursions will be offered in conjunction with the Zodiac excursions whenever weather conditions permit. Our Kayak Guides and Adventure Concierges will help to explain the choices of activities at each landing site and provide some suggestions on what to participate in, based on your own interests.

Who can do it?

Our sea kayaking program is directed at any passenger with an adventurous spirit and a basic paddling ability. Our guides are experienced instructors and will help you with any additional skills that you might require. In addition, they will tailor sea kayak excursions to your skill level and recommend when you should and shouldn't be paddling. The sea kayaking option should be added at the time of booking and, due to its great popularity, is generally not available for booking onboard the vessel.

General kayak information for passengers

  • Basic kayak experience required, physical fitness is essential
  • Maximum number limited to 14 kayakers per voyage
  • Between 3 to 4 kayak outings (morning or afternoon) possible!
  • Kayaking is subject to weather and prevailing ice conditions
  • Oceanwide kayak guides are experts in their field, qualified and experienced
  • Essential kayak equipment available for free on board (from head to toe)
  • Kayakers only bring their personal weather protective gear

Basic kayak experience required

The sea kayak program is directed at any adventure minded passengers who bring basic paddling experience. To take part in the kayak excursions passengers are required to have sufficient physical fitness and prior basic sea kayak experience would be helpful. It must be clear that kayaking in polar areas involves some potential risks, especially hypothermia because of the very cold water. These trips are not suitable for beginners. Basic skills should include normal handling of a kayak in moderate weather and sea conditions. Kayak participants with a clear lack of these abilities can be disqualified for further kayaking on our kayak excursions because of safety reasons. If you have any questions about the required skills please contact our office.


Safety during activities is important to us. Kayak guides are experienced and qualified instructors who will support you. The excursions will be tailored to the skill level of the group and the sea conditions encountered. A support zodiac will be in the vicinity of the kayak group, just a radio call away in case someone feels tired and wishes to return to the ship.

Kayak Equipment and clothing for the Antarctica

As conditions can change rapidly, make sure you have clothing and equipment suitable for the worst weather. Since the water in the Polar Regions is around freezing point (between -2 and +3°C), good kayak clothing is essential.

Important personal kayak clothing and gear to bring (these items are not on the ship)

  • Thermal underwear top to bottom (for under the wetsuit for hygienic purposes)
  • Fleece vest or jacket to wear over the thermals
  • Breathable , windproof and waterproof (e.g. Gore-Tex®) jacket or paddle anorak/jacket and trousers
  • Warm fleece hat
  • Turtle neck (neck gaiter)
  • Gloves (GoreTex® outside and Thinsulate inside, preferably ski/snowboard/mountain gloves with some grip)
  • Thick socks
  • Good sunglasses
  • Sunscreen / sun block
  • Waterproof bag (for camera equipment)