Antarctica, the world’s wildest and least explored place.
You spend a few days crossing the roughest ocean of all, fighting seasickness to reach an uninhabited continent. Afterwards, you recross the world’s toughest waters. just to start your journey home. Yep, Antarctica is a long way away.
Most people are seasick for a week and still say Antarctica is their greatest ever experience. But what if you could visit Antarctica without four days of vomiting on route? What if you could fly?
If you could fly, you wouldn’t be restricted to parts of Antarctica closest to the ocean. With a plane you could really explore the world’s coldest, highest, driest and windiest continent.
It’s romantic to dream of being Amundsen or Scott, crossing Antarctica at walking pace. But if you’re going to get anywhere on a continent double the size of Australia, you need some speed. And forget the tiny tents and boil-in-a-bag expedition food. If Antarctica is the greatest travel experience of all, how about we do it in style?
That’s the sentiment behind White Desert, the only company to have a luxury camp on Antarctica.
Down in Antarctica, the Champagne really is on ice. Awaiting your arrival by Gulfstream G550 from Cape Town, South Africa. Yes, you fly to Antarctica. And then you fly a little further to the South Pole. Why not?
The southernmost point on earth is on more bucketlists than the Eiffel Tower. A place where there is no east or south or west. Where you can walk around the world in just a few paces. Where you get freezing cold waiting in the queue – oh wait, that is the Eiffel Tower.
We can confirm there are no touts selling fridge magnets at the South Pole. Just imagine this – you have to fly two hours above Antarctica to reach the South Pole – talk about a foreboding sense of wilderness and scale. Also two hours from camp, but in a different direction, is a colony of over 6,000 emperor penguins and their chicks. They’re completely unafraid of humans, so you can be surrounded by the noise, commotion and beauty. It’s the real thing, March of the Penguins style, not Penguins of Madagascar or Surf’s Up.
A small Antarctica cruise has around 100 passengers, but only 12 guests can fit inside a G550. So with White Desert the polar exploration is a lot more private. They built the first and only Antarctica runway for private jets, on a stretch of glacial blue ice (you can also land your own business jet here).
Whichaway is their original camp, with six warm and comfortable “polar pods.” Wolf’s Fang isn’t as aesthetically pleasing, but still has everything you need for a comfortable week-long stay in a remote Antarctica mountain range. Like a bar built into the ice, rather than those silly ice bar concepts now found in every European capital.
A natural ice bar is more sustainable. White Desert has been certified CarbonNeutral since 2007 and offsets all carbon emissions from the flights. It’s also testing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and pioneering solar air heaters in their polar pods. Almost everything used at the camps is biodegradable, and what’s not is flown to South Africa for recycling.
Itineraries range from one to 24 days. Yes, one day in Antarctica is possible with White Desert, but why? A list-ticking 24 hours is what turns places like the South Pole into tourist traps. It’s not sustainable. Better spend five to eight days, so you can immerse yourself in the polar wilderness and tailor a program of activities.
While many of these activities are challenging and you obviously need to be accompanied by expert guides, White Desert has taken the hardship out of the most iconic destination of them all. Take away the ocean crossing and you take away seasickness. Having a base on land rather than water frees up your time to explore, at a time when Antarctica has 24 hour daylight.
Like walking through ice caves, zip-lining, abseiling, hiking, skiing, ice climbing, fat biking, rock climbing, Arctic truck safaris, climbing mountain summits, traversing glaciers by rope, visiting the penguins and a lot more. In such a vast wilderness you can do as you please, including camping out on your own in a tiny tent for a night. There’s even a specific program if you want to be the first ever person to summit an unclimbed mountain.
Packages start at USD 52,000 per person for five days at Wolf’s Fang. It’s USD 96,000 for eight days at Whichaway Camp.
The summer Antarctica season has just started (remember, we’re in the Southern Hemisphere) and runs until the end of January. Limited spaces are available for 2021 – 2022 departures, but we do anticipate challenges getting into and out of South Africa. This isn’t really a last minute type of trip, it’s true once-in-a-lifetime stuff. All dates are available for 2022 – 2023, from mid November through to the end of January.
The best time for penguins is mid-November to mid-January and for baby penguins we recommend the end of November. December and January are best for the South Pole.
If you’re still not sure about visiting Antarctica, here is a video of some penguins. And when you know you want to visit, there’s a video showing the flight logistics.