Patriot Hills Camp
Nestled within the heartland of Antarctica, Patriot Hills is the home of Adventure Network International’s base camp, the only private camp in Antarctica. Patriot Hills houses up to 50 guests in expedition style accommodations. These have been specially designed for our needs and tested for their security and comfort in polar regions.
The camp is is strategically situated about 1/2 mile (1 km) from a naturally occurring, “blue-ice” runway where the heavy cargo/passenger aircraft used by us can land. Most people like to walk this distance after the flight but transportation is readily available. The tent camp is situated on firm snow. The surface may become a bit hard and icy at times, or may become uneven with soft drifts during storms. You should have reasonable mobility and feel comfortable walking on uneven surfaces.
Guests on our “Polar Dreams” programs sleep in two-person, double lined tents constructed of a high-tech nylon covering, stretched over a durable aluminium frame. Maximum heat is maintained with zippered doors and plywood floors. Guests sleep in their own sleeping bags, on mattresses, with bed linen and pillows provided by us. Those participating in “Polar Expeditions” and “Polar Adventures” programs, will practice setting up and sleeping in the mountaineering style tents that they will use in the field. Staff occupy similar, mountaineering style tents around camp.
The Dining Tent is truly the heart of our camp in Antarctica. It has a complete kitchen and dining area and serves as a regular gathering place for our guests to meet staff and other travellers and enjoy tea and coffee while discussing the day’s adventures. Our cooks prepare wonderful delicacies from their diverse menus. Three meals a day are served and snacks and beverages are available on an ongoing basis. Food is flown in from Punta Arenas, Chile – including fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meats, a variety of beers and Chilean wines. Included in the dining tent is a library of books and games for guests to enjoy. It is a place to relax, write diaries or postcards, play cards or games, or just read.
Wash Facilities and Laundry
There is no reason why your standard of personal hygiene should change at Patriot Hills; you may just have to approach it differently. We estimate, from government tables, that if all our guests plus staff had the opportunity of using our shower facilities once a week we would generate approximately 10,000 gallons (37,500 litres) of water in the course of our Antarctic season. That is equivalent to a small swimming pool. We cannot justify producing this amount of "grey water" and pouring it back into the Antarctic ice.
In tune with our environmental policy and concerns to keep our impact to a minimum, we offer instead facilities for “sponge bathing” using a bowl of hot water and a wash cloth. Your body will be just as clean as with a shower and you will feel more energized and invigorated. Some guests also choose to bring pre-moistened towelettes such as “Wet Wipes” with them. For the brave the other option is a "snow bath". We’ll show you how!
Toilet facilities are located in the main camp. Our toilets are designed to facilitate waste handling and proper waste disposal. They are basic but clean. All human waste is removed from Antarctica for disposal in Chile.
We do not offer laundry services at Patriot Hills. All camp laundry is returned to Punta Arenas for cleaning. As an expedition camp we are trying to minimize the amount of residue water generated by us in the Antarctic and believe that our guests, like the staff, are willing to work with us to achieve this goal.
As there is 24 hour daylight in Antarctica during the summer and weather conditions rather than clocks dictate our activities and schedule, “time” takes on a different meaning. Clocks are primarily used to coordinate activities with other stations. For convenience more than anything else, we have elected to keep Patriot Hills camp on the same time as Punta Arenas, Chile, where our flights originate. Patriot Hills time is 3 hours behind GMT (UK time), 2 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (NYC time), and 5 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (LA time). Vinson and the Emperor Penguin Colony also operate on the same time. Amundsen-Scott station, located at the South Pole functions on the same time as New Zealand, which is GMT plus 13 hours.
All guests must fill out a medical form that is reviewed by our medic. Providing honest information early-on gives us time to work with you and your doctor should there be any concerns, so that you can participate in your chosen program safely and with the best chance of success.
Our philosophy is to work with our guests to help them safely achieve their Antarctic dreams. We have helped a blind climber summit Mt. Vinson; a wheelchair-athlete complete the Ice Marathon; a cancer survivor, and diabetic adventurer ski to the South Pole, and many others. If you are physically challenged or have special needs, please contact us to discuss your situation.
We employ the services of a medical doctor and stocks a selection of medications and fundamental equipment for the care and stabilization of visitors at Patriot Hills if they become ill. This service is provided free of charge to our guests. Please bear in mind while preparing for your journey and throughout your expedition that you will be nearly 2,000 miles (3200 km) from “full-serve” medical attention or a pharmacy. If you take regular, essential medication, bring enough with you for your anticipated stay in Antarctica, PLUS a minimum of 4 week’s extra supply. Even in Punta Arenas compatible prescription medications can be difficult to source so please be sure to bring ample supply from home.
We recommend a careful and considered approach to any activities that you undertake while on expedition. Should you have an accident or become seriously ill, we will make every effort to repatriate you as soon as possible to more advanced medical facilities in Punta Arenas; this however will be at your expense. You should carry medical evacuation insurance to cover you for this eventuality. Please refer to our “Terms and Conditions” for further information about insurance and evacuation costs.
Our communications tent is the centre of our on-ice operations. For quiet and to minimize our environmental impact our systems are supplied entirely by solar power. We maintain daily contact with our office in Punta Arenas and with all field parties using HF radio, Iridium telephone, and satellite beacons. We also maintain contact with other bases, and with our aircraft whenever they are flying, taking regular position reports.
If you would like to make a phone call from Patriot Hills, we sell pre-paid Iridium phone cards for US$70 for 35 minutes. Limited solar power/charging facilities are available at Patriot Hills. Please ensure your batteries are fully charged prior to leaving Punta Arenas. You will need a 12V DC-DC charger capable of plugging in to a “female” cigarette lighter socket to use the system. No charging facilities are available at Vinson base or other field locations. Please coordinate with our client services staff if you would like to make use of either of these services.
Several other tents and structures, including vehicle workshop, equipment and food stores round out our camp facilities.
We maintain a fleet of specialized vehicles for snow clearing and ground transportation in Antarctica. These include an industrial snow-blower, snowcat, tractor, and a number of snowmobiles and sleds.
We use ski-equipped aircraft for the transport of passengers, cargo, and fuel within the interior of Antarctica. Our ski equipped aircraft park to one side of camp and use a separate ski runway to the north.
When you arrive at Patriot Hills, our staff will be happy to give you a tour to introduce you to our home on the ice.