You Could Run a ‘Penguin Post Office’ in Antarctica

Three new hires will spend five months living among gentoo penguins and sorting postcards at the world’s southernmost post office

Penguins and the post office
Penguins surround the post office at Port Lockroy, a British outpost on Goudier Island. Rob Oo via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY 2.0

Help wanted: Charity seeks hard-working, self-motivated individuals for temporary positions. Must be willing to relocate—and stomach the smell of penguin poop.

That’s the gist of the latest job descriptions posted by the U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust, the organization that runs a famed “penguin post office” in Antarctica. The group is hiring three coveted positions for the upcoming Antarctic season, which runs from November 2024 to March 2025.

The post office is part of Port Lockroy, a historic British base on Goudier Island, near the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s the southernmost post office in the world, but despite its remote location, it processes up to 80,000 letters and postcards each season. These missives, in turn, are sent by the roughly 18,000 cruise ship passengers who stop by during summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The trust oversees the site, which celebrated its 80th birthday last month. But the organization needs on-the-ground employees to sort mail, sell postage stamps, care for the aging buildings and run the small onsite gift shop. These staffers also have another important duty: counting the roughly 1,500 gentoo penguins that live in a colony at Port Lockroy.

The organization is looking for a base leader, a general assistant and a shop manager. Applicants must be residents of the United Kingdom.

Whoever lands the positions will be in for the adventure of a lifetime. After undergoing extensive training in the U.K. in August and September, they’ll deploy to Port Lockroy in late October or early November. Once they arrive, they’ll be mostly cut off from the outside world, as there’s very little phone and internet access on the island. They’ll also be sharing a bunk room with up to five other people throughout the season.

End-of-season review 2022-23

Port Lockroy has no running water, so staffers will have to be comfortable using a bucket instead of a toilet. They won’t be able to take baths or showers, except when passing cruise ships invite them onboard (and send them back to the base with a resupply of fresh food). Since the island is so small, they’ll have to make do without much alone time.

“Due to the terrain, it is not possible to go for a run or take a long walk if you need time on your own,” the application states. “Could you cope with being confined to a small island with four teammates for five months?”

The trust has staffed Port Lockroy since 2006. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the group shut down the site for two years, but eventually reopened it in 2022. For that first post-Covid season, around 6,000 people applied for the jobs—more than twice the number of applicants than in years past. Ultimately, the trust chose an all-woman roster.

During World War II, the British government sent a top-secret expedition team to Antarctica to set up strategic bases on Goudier Island, Deception Island and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Their mission? To “deny safe anchorages to enemy raiding vessels” and gather meteorological data that might serve as useful intel for Allied shipping vessels sailing through the South Atlantic, according to the British Antarctic Survey.

Today, the charity that runs Port Lockroy has friendlier aims. The trust wants to preserve historic buildings and artifacts in Antarctica, with an overarching goal of helping future generations “discover, understand, value and protect this precious wilderness,” according to its website. In addition to Port Lockroy, the trust maintains five other historic sites on the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Port Lockroy jobs aren’t for everyone. But for individuals with the right skills and experience, the positions are a “unique opportunity to live in a landscape that makes you feel pure awe and wonder, where pioneering generations have gone before us, making groundbreaking discoveries about our planet,” Camilla Nichol, the trust’s CEO, tells Time Out’s Liv Kelly.

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