Working In An Uninhabitable Wilderness

For most people, Antarctica is a frozen landscape which is deemed uninhabitable. For others, it is an exciting cruise destination that involves the chance to really walk on the wild side and see the true beauty of nature. And for a small minority, it is home. Well, for four or five months of the year at least. There are around 4,000 people who live on the icy continent throughout the southern hemisphere’s summer (from November to March), hailing from a range of different countries including the UK, America, Norway and China.

For them, the surrounding frozen terrain is an everyday delight; something they have almost become used to. Just as we get accustomed to our desks and other working environments; they become familiar with the icebergs, snowstorms, and penguins that feature in their office of choice.

But what do these people do for a living? Granted there aren’t many accountants, I.T consultants, or lorry drivers on Antarctica, but what professions are there?


Postbox In Snow

When thinking of a postman working in Antarctica it is hard not to imagine a tortured soul trudging through the snow from one isolated research hut to the next, only finishing his round just in time to start again the next day. However, that isn’t quite what life is like for postman working here. Their job is primarily to ensure that tourists visiting the gift shop at Port Lockroy can send postcards to their loved ones back home.

This involves the help of navy vessels and expedition ships and means that anyone travelling to the end of the earth can share their experience with friends and family. Other tasks include maintaining the museum that is also found on site and monitoring the nearby penguin colony.


Chefs Hat

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, people have got to eat. But cooking for researchers at the McMurdo station in Antarctica has to be a lot more eventful than any culinary based job in the UK. Attributes needed by someone in this job include helping to come up with new ways to re-enliven yesterday’s leftovers. As it costs money to ship discarded food off the continent, the rule of ‘waste not, want not’ has never been so important.

There’s also the need to be dedicated and hardworking as the scientists at these stations don’t have anywhere else to dine, so it can get quite busy. Lastly, the ability to work with whatever you have available is paramount. Deliveries of fresh food can be few and far between and so chefs often have to make do until the next drop.



Of all the ‘ologists’ that find themselves in this part of the world, glaciologists perhaps have one of the most interesting jobs. The study of ice in Antarctica is an important worldwide issue at the moment, as scientists try to understand the effects that global warming is having on our ecosystems.

Glaciers themselves are breath-taking natural occurrences; managing to be both static and mobile at the same time. In real-time, they seem to be frozen masses of water, but when viewed during a longer time frame they are actually travelling with the help of gravity. By studying the changes in ice density and the way that glaciers behave, glaciologists hope to discover the full effects of human activity and learn how to preserve these delicate landscapes.

Ship Captain

Captain With Binoculars

There are many different types of vessel that arrive on Antarctica; from large expedition ships like the ones seen on our website to smaller research boats which help scientists with their sea-based studies. Although not strictly working on the continent, the captains of these ships play an important role in life in this part of the world.

Having to navigate stretches of water such as the Drake Passage, whilst also sailing in some testing weather conditions, is never going to be an easy job. There is a lighter side to the job as well though as the captains of these vessels get to enjoy a range of stunning natural landscapes and have a front row seat to spot the diverse wildlife the Antarctic region has to offer.

If you would like to enjoy a similar experience to the people working on Antarctica, albeit for a shorter period of time, we have a wide range of exciting Antarctic cruises. Call our passionate team today or submit your request online.

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