Polar Kayaking

Aqua-Firma are passionate about kayaking, with many years experience, from the Amazon to the Arctic. We feel there is no better means of exploring the rocky shores, scattered icebergs and glaciers of the polar wilderness, than by gently moving through the icy waters in a kayak.

Such tranquil exploration, in tune with the surrounding nature invites a close approach to bird-laden headlands or a busy penguin colony. With only the noise of your own paddle lapping the water you can glide past sleeping seals on the ice flow and perhaps marvel at tail flukes on the horizon.

Aqua-Firma Director, Ralph Pannell kayaking in Spitsbergen

Experience needed for polar kayak programmes

We offer expeditions where you can enjoy a one-off paddling experience, others with a daily kayak programme and for the more experienced an arctic Kayak progression course. 

Kayaking in Antarctica or the Arctic is not for novices, but nor do you need to be a professional. A good basic kayak experience is required and physical fitness is important. Ability to handle a kayak in moderate weather and sea conditions is expected. We will assume you are familiar with getting in and out of the kayaks safely and that you are comfortable with making an emergency exit in the water. Ability to "Eskimo Roll" is not a requirement. Of course, the more experience you have, the more able and confident you will be ! 

Equipment and clothing

Safe, stable and comfortable one or two-person kayaks are provided on our expeditions. The equipment you are required to bring will differ according to your chosen departure, but the following link can be used as a general guide: Equipment and Clothing or speak to our in-house experts. 
All activities are under the leadership of qualified Kayak instructors who will accompany your group on the water, supported by a zodiac safety boat in constant communication.

Kayaking Conditions

Arctic kayaking generally takes place in protected fjords and along coastal areas where the waves and swell tend to be light.  In Antarctica we often kayak in bays and areas surrounded by sea ice, which provide shelter and relatively calm sea conditions, noting that sea, weather and ice conditions can change quickly. 

Kayaking in Antarctica - Troels Jacobsen

Trip Review:
"One big highlight was Paradise Harbour (Antarctica). We paddled again as the conditions were perfect. Our whole group were lost for words. There was silence as we paddled around the harbour. We heard parts of the glacier breaking and saw parts fall into the sea. Then we heard the unmistakable sound of a blow! It was incredible, there were two humpbacks really close to us. They were resting with their dorsal fins out of the water and then went for a little swim. On the paddle back to the boat we saw two more humpbacks. One of them was enormous and swam right under our kayak!!! It was a phenomenal experience. The scenery and the animals - just breathtaking!"

G & D Dubuis, Antarctic Peninsula & Weddell Sea

Please contact one of Aqua-Firma's team to share their first hand experience of polar kayaking and to help you incorporate sea kayaking into your polar voyage.

  • Kayaking in Baffin Island, Canadian High Arctic
  • Kayaking in Spitsbergen
  • Leopard Seal watching a kayaker in Antarctica
  • Aqua-Firma Director, Ralph Pannell kayaking in Spitsbergen
  • Walrus watching a kayaker in Spitsbergen - Ralph Pannell
  • Aqua-Firma Director, Ralph Pannell kayaking in Spitsbergen
  • Kayaking in Antarctica

Equipment & Clothing - Polar Kayaking

Frequently Asked Questions - Polar Kayaking

  • Kayaking in Antarctica
  • Kayaking with penguins in Antarctica - Daisy Gilardini
  • Kayaking in Spitsbergen
  • Kayaking & Photography in Spitsbergen
  • Kayaking with Guillemots in Spitsbergen - Ralph Pannell
  • Kayaking in Antarctica


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