The Penguin Post Office

Port Lockroy's Post Office (Credit:

Would you believe there is a post office in Antarctica? It's located at Port Lockroy - a popular stop on some cruises in Antarctica. With penguins, ice caps, snowy mountain ranges, and a cool museum, the location is full of fun surprises.

Port Lockroy's Post Office is situated on the northwestern shore of Wiencke Island, one of the islands of the Palmer archipelago. Adrien de Gerlache discovered the archipelago in 1898, and since then it has hosted research stations for both Argentina and the United Kingdom.1

Location of Port Lockroy (Credit:

The British military set up a base in Port Lockroy in 1944, which remained operational until 1962. In 1996, the base was renovated into a museum. Visitors can explore the building and read posters explaining the exhibits, which seek to replicate the original science base as it was in the 1950s.1

Here is a 2 min overview of the history and post office as it operates today:

The site is run by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), a British charity, with Princess Anne as its patron. One of its primary goals is to conserve certain British scientific bases on the Antarctic Peninsula to educate and, of course, entertain visitors. Under the Antarctic Treaty, the UKAHT operates Port Lockroy as a Historic Site and Monument.1

The charming little post office and gift shop is Antarctica’s most-visited tourist spot. Buy a souvenir or even better a post card which will be manually franked and sent on its way. Although it may take weeks to travel back to the UK and then on to its final destination, I’m sure friends and family around the world will be thrilled to receive a postcard from the Bottom of the World. Each year, roughly 70,000 postcards are posted to more than 100 countries, and the revenue helps fund the UKAHT.1

Penguins are of course a major drawcard and seem to be equally entertained by the human visitors.

There is an ongoing study of the gentoo penguin population. There were no gentoo penguins in the area when the base was founded. The existing colony is believed to have popped up around 1985, establishing a bigger colony on Port Lockroy. The UKAHT has monitored the population’s breeding habits since 1996, including the effects of tourism; as part of the study, half of the island is off-limits to visitors.1

This year the site will re-open after Covid, from November to the end of February by 4 women. It seems women are usually favoured for this assignment.

Between 2013 and 2015 Sarah Auffret spent 2 seasons working at the Penguin Post Office. You may enjoy reading of her experiences and gain an understanding as to why 6000 applications were received, despite no running water or flushing toilet!

Postcard from the Penguin Post Office | Ends Of The Earth
As you approach the Penguin Post Office at Port Lockroy, located on a tiny island off the Antarctic Peninsula, three days of navigation from Ushuaia, you are greeted by the “roo roo roo” sound of 600 pairs of nesting gentoo penguins. Early in the season, you may have to climb up a snow staircase or …

Think you might like to apply? Here’s a 4 min promotional video - it dates back to 2011, but not much changes in Antarctica!

The cruise I enjoyed with Hurtigruten didn't stop at the Penguin Post Office, but I hope to make it there one day.