Experience Polar Ice Diving with Our Antarctica Scuba Diving Tours and Expeditions

Entering the Lemaire channel, the view from the bridge of the MV Ortelius.

Having already made two spectacular expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia, the African and Oriental Travel Company is going back to our favourite ice formations again for more polar diving. You can choose to join our Antarctica scuba diving expedition, or we can place you on an existing Antarctic cruise that has scuba diving as an activity.  We are one of the few Antarctica scuba diving tour operators in the UK that actually have polar diving experience.

Our next Antarctic scuba dive tour is in December 2021. We have booked all of the diving spots on the MV Plancius of Oceanwide Expeditions. Participating on one of our Antarctica scuba diving expeditions, allows you to dive with ice formations, catch sight of penguins and seals, and mix your dive trips with whale watching and shore visits when not getting into your dry suits for a cold water dive. Just bear in mind, you will not see any polar bears on an Antarctica Scuba diving tour – polar bears only live in the Arctic.

Francisca Jah dives in a kelp field off Saunders Island, West Falkland.

The Best for Antarctica Scuba Diving Tours :  Oceanwide Expeditions:

We use Oceanwide Expeditions as our Antarctic tour operators for many reasons, the most important of which is safety and professionalism. Along with the ship’s crew, the Antarctic scuba diving team is first class.  TThe second reason is the small number of passengers on their vessels. Once you take into account the cold water kayakers, those going scuba diving you end up with less than 100 people wishing to land on the Antarctic Peninsula. This is the magic number, as IAATO guidelines  (Internal Association of Antarctic Tour Operators www.iaato.org) require landings of less than 100 passengers.  This means that on our Antarctica Scuba diving tours everyone who would like to do so, is able to get off the ship at every landing and activity planned.

Antarctica, a Diving Expedition Tour of a Lifetime.

The whales, birds, seals, penguins and iconic icebergs are each good enough reasons to visit Antarctica, but most impressive is that all this takes place in the most majestic landscape: 10,000ft mountains rise up out of the sea and tower over the secluded bays and islands. Whether in dry suits or on land, while diving in Antarctica you’ll see many species of penguins, leopard seals, Weddell seals, crab-eating seals, albatrosses, skuas, snow petrels, and various types of whales (orcas, minkes, and southern right whales are common). In addition to this greatest of wildlife shows, there is a palpable sense of history in the museum at Port Lockroy, which showcases British Antarctic exploration and even a WWII operation to find German U-Boats. 

Depending on your requested departure date, we can arrange scuba diving in Antarctica to be added for independent travelling divers. If you prefer to travel with like minded passengers and prefer to participate in our exclusive dive trips down to the worlds’ most remote dive sites in Antarctica – then apply to join our dedicated and escorted expeditions. 

All of our Antarctica Cruise itineraries offered are as active as you want them to be. Whether it has been your dream to quietly kayak the waters of Antarctica,  dive around an iceberg, float on a zodiac to view the ancient or just sit and watch the antics of the penguins on South Georgia: there is a vessel and itinerary that will allow you to do just so

On our Antarctica Dive Expeditions, All are welcome- Divers and Non Divers

Our exclusive and escorted your “scuba diving in Antarctica” is open to divers and non divers alike. This is the perfect journey to share for diving and non-diving friends. We land daily on the Antarctic Peninsula and islands under the guidance of the excellent Oceanwide guides. When the divers have finished their dry suit dives, on most occasions they will be able to land and take in the above water scenery. Polar diving is always optional so you can choose to stay dry and go ashore with your friends.

Both divers and non- divers alike will have much of the correct cold weather clothing for this voyage already. Specialized boots are provided by the tour operators. Everyone should be prepared as though you would be spending an entire day skiing or winter hill walking. We can guide you for the type and quantity of clothing if required, diving or not.

Experience Polar Wildlife While Scuba Ice Diving in Antarctica

For those trying the Antarctic scuba diving there are the wrecks of whaling vessels, steep walls, underwater rock formations and the marine life on these cold water dive sites. We should see seals and benthic fauna including nudibranchs, gigantic sea spiders and isopods, fish with antifreeze in their blood, anemones, brachiopods, crinoids, and many other animals unique to an Antarctic cold water dive. If lucky, you may even see penguins and seals underwater.  In addition, if possible we will try to include a number of ice diving sites for your lifetime chance to dive on ice formations.  Diver numbers are limited to 12 (two zodiacs) in order to keep this expedition safe and easy to manage. As the smallest group of divers accepted on any Antarctic expedition cruise vessel it means your Antarctica scuba diving tour with us is entirely exclusive.

Polar Diving in  Antarctica :  Scuba Skills, Requirements and Gear

Divers will need to show that they have completed at least 30 drysuit dives. As a diver you should be very familiar with your own cold water dive equipment and your equipment must be in good working order. Only cylinders and weights are included; all other diving equipment must be provided by you (details upon request). For any items you do not have, we can put you in touch with first class suppliers such as Mike’s Dive Store or Al Boom Diving

Experience shows that it is essential that you are very comfortable with your equipment when Antarctica diving. You should be familiar and practiced your dry suit dives and be able to get in and out of your dry suit with minimal help. You will get on the zodiac with your drysuit on and will don all other equipment while in the zodiac and at the dive site. Buddies help buddies to kit up while maintaining a seated and stable position. Water entry is by backward roll. When resurfacing after the dive, weights and BCD/cylinder are removed and passed into the boat before finding out in a “seal exit”.

Dives will be made in buddy pairs for safety. You do not join a dive guide:  your Antarctica scuba diving is not guided once below water. Each buddy pair explores the dive site taking care of each other.  A maximum of 2 dives are on offer where dive sites are available. Some sites have been dived before, but note that most have not.

You will need basic lightweight scuba equipment such as a strong BCD, 2 cold water regulators (2 first stages/2 second stages/1 gauge/1 drysuit hose/1 BCD hose), weight belt, 7mm mittens and a good hood. You will need a good under-suit like a Weezle and thick socks. Antarctica scuba diving will be conducted from zodiacs: inflatable boats which sit low in the water and are a very stable diving platform.

Specialist technical diving equipment is not required for this type of cold water dive attempts. Quick release basic BCD’s are best as they are easy to get in and out of. We are happy to offer guidance on diving equipment requirements.

Antarctica scuba diving tours truly are expedition diving at its finest. A team spirit and expedition dive style is expected of all and is vital for successful Antarctica Scuba Diving Expeditions. Even the most hardy scuba divers will be daunted by the prospect of diving Antarctica and will have many questions. To help you decide, we are delighted to now offer you a free online consultation to discuss the specific requirements for you to join an Antarctica scuba diving expedition with us. Call or email us now to book one of these on:

A Unique Antarctica Diving Tour for All: Dive Expedition Details & Itinerary.

SCUBA DIVING TRIPS ANTARCTICA: EXPEDITION SUMMARY

DECEMBER 2021: MV PLANCIUS

December    9th Leave Europe
December   10th Arrive Buenos Aires , connect to Ushuaia overnight accommodation hotel.
December   11th Ushuaia    Accommodation hotel Ushuaia.
December 12th Embark in Ushuaia on the MV Plancius. Set sail for Antarctica.
December  13-21 At sea under way, diving, landing, kayaking, exploring
December 22nd Steam into Ushuaia, Disembark the MV Plancius in Ushuaia & transfer to Airport & fly to Buenos Aires.
December 23rd Depart Buenos Aires to Europe.

FAQs

What experience do I need for an Antarctic dive expedition?

To dive on an Antarctica Dive expedition you need to have 30 dives in a dry suit. More importantly you need to be completely comfortable in your dry suit and BCD. You also need to do a couple of training dives where you simulate the turning on and off your cylinder valve. You’ll need to be able to turn off your buddy’s valve if his second stage free flows. When we dive in Antarctica, we use H valves, with two regulators for this very reason. Any intermediate cold water sport diver would be able to Scuba Dive in Antarctica.

Can you scuba dive in Antarctica?

Yes. You can scuba dive in Antarctica, the Antarctica islands, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. You will need to bring all your own equipment including a dry suit, two cold water regulators and a bcd. You will not need any specialised technical diving equipment.

What is under the ice in Antarctica?

On our Antarctica Diving expeditions, we do not dive under the ice. Ice diving is a technical form of scuba diving. All of our Antarctic Scuba diving is recreational scuba diving which is easy to do. In Antarctica we dive around icebergs and on underwater reefs and walls. We dive in kelp and with seals.

How deep is the water under Antarctica?

The deepest water in the Southern Ocean is 7,236 m (23,740 ft) at the southern end of the South Sandwich Trench. The Antarctic continental shelf is about 800 m (2,600 ft). We dive at depths between 6metres and 20 metres deep. We find shallow but fascinating spots to dive on.

What creatures live in Antarctica?

Antarctica is full of wildlife. You will see chinstrap penguins, Adele and Emperor penguins. We nearly always see southern right whales, Orcas, Blue whales and Minke Whales. In addition we should see Giant Petrels, Wandering Albatross’ and Cape Petrels. Underwater we see isopods, squid, fur seals and bonefish.

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