Snowshoe hiking – Questions and answers

Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about snowshoe hiking on Antartic cruises.

It is free to take part in a snowshoe hike.

Between ten and 20 people can take part in a hike.

Snowshoe hikes are only offered on Antarctic cruises and are subject to the weather conditions. Our expedition team on board will try to provide hikes several times on each cruise, however, unpredictable weather means that this cannot be guaranteed. Our expedition team on board will provide information on when snowshoe hikes are planned in the programme of the day.

Good physical fitness is required; the expedition leader will check this in advance. You should be able to walk uphill and downhill for several hours. However, the pace will be leisurely and plenty of stops will be planned. Please speak to the expedition leader or guide on board so that you can assess together whether snowshoe hiking is the right adventure for you.

Each participant is provided with equipment specially designed for snowshoe hiking in the polar regions: snowshoes, poles (provided in your cabin), a warm expedition parka and warm, waterproof rubber boots.

For the hike you should wear warm, waterproof clothes, preferably in multiple layers:

- Thermal underwear
- Thick socks
- Fleece jacket
- Warm hat
- Gloves and neck warmers are recommended
- Gaiters
- Winter/waterproof boots (on-board rubber boots), which should protect your ankles
- Warm and waterproof trousers, which must be at least wind- and water-resistant (e.g. softshell/hardshell trousers or ski trousers)
- Sun cream, sunglasses
- Large rucksack (provided in your cabin) with a hot drink, energy bars, chocolate is available on board, potentially a change of clothes and additional warm clothing

On the evening before the tour, our tour guide will give a short briefing about the upcoming hike. The guide will tell you about the area, the duration, the weather forecast, etc. After the landing, the snowshoe hiking adventure begins. We will walk for around two to three hours in an Antarctic region that can only be reached with this equipment. As we walk, we will experience this polar region that only great polar explorers have seen before us.

In principle, snowshoe hiking does not require any particular complicated technique. Just like normal hiking, with snowshoe hiking, you put one foot in front of the other. The difference on a snowshoe tour is that your feet cover a larger area as the snowshoes are wider and longer than normal shoes. This is the advantage of snowshoes: when the snow reaches a depth of half a metre (around a foot and a half) or more, you would sink into it without snowshoes. The large surface area of snowshoes means that they only sink a few centimetres into the snow. Walking in snowshoes is a little strange at first but you will get the hang of it after a couple of minutes.

The hike is led by an experienced expedition leader/guide. They know the area and the local conditions best. The group will stay together at all times.

Each hike has what we call a point of no return. At the start of the walk, you can easily leave the hike within the first five to ten minutes if you find that snowshoe hiking is not for you. After this point, the group will stay together. This means that if after the point of no return one of the group cannot continue, we will first try to accompany the guest safely back to the ship. This may mean, however, that the entire group must return together then.