White Desert’s new Echo Base is the most comfortable and luxurious way to explore Antarctica. It’s inspired by Buzz Aldrin, space travel and Star Wars.
A Hotel in Antarctica, not an Antarctica Cruise
Polar explorer Patrick Woodhead opened his first White Desert camp in 2005, inspired by kite-skiing across the white continent. His newest offering is the most luxurious yet.
There are six heated sky pods, crafted from composite fibreglass, so they are completely silent in 80 knots of wind. While White Desert’s Whichaway Camp celebrates the golden age of exploration, Echo looks to a new world.
“We had all these fabulous conversations about Mars and living on the moon with Buzz Aldrin and Colonel Terry Virts,” says White Desert founder Patrick Woodhead. “There’s this surreal jagged landscape and this Martian colonial outpost, Echo Base.”
Terry Virts was the former commander of the International Space Station and Buzz Aldrin needs no introduction, he’s probably the most adventurous man on the planet. Both commented how the Antarctica mountains are the most beautiful they’ve seen across Earth, Venus, the Moon and Mars.
The echo pods have floor-to-ceiling windows providing incredible views of the Antarctic landscape.
A Sustainable Trip to Antarctica by Private Jet
As with White Desert’s other two accommodations, White Desert can be dismantled without leaving a trace. Guests fly from Cape Town to Antarctica on a business jet that is transitioning to bio fuels.
White Desert is the only company taking people to Antarctica’s interior and they’ve been doing carbon offsets since 2007.
Step off the plane to an ice runway and be escorted to an ice bar, where the martini is served with 10,000-year-old ice. Settle into Echo Base. Visit a colony of 28,000 emperor penguins, go ice climbing and mountaineering, fat biking and ski-dooing. You can even go to the South Pole or climb a previously un-climbed mountain.
Interiors Inspired by the Millenium Falcon
While the exteriors are very high tech, the Echo Base interiors do have something of a vintage feel. Just not the brass and leather of Shackleton’s era or the explorers of old.
Interior designers told me it needs to look like a boutique hotel room. I said no, more like Star Wars, like the interior of the Millenium Falcon, when you press a button something happens.
A lot of White Desert’s inspiration comes from safaris in Botswana and South Africa, building a luxurious element in a highly wilderness area, being remote in terms of power, water and facilities.
They’re bringing this to Antarctica, which is a much more difficult scale. With this comes real exclusivity. Less than a thousand people visit the interior of Antarctica every year, a figure including researchers and tourists. Echo Base takes just 12 guests at a time.
Are You Ready to Explore Antarctica?
Accompanying the 12 guests are three record-breaking mountain guides, so you won’t go visit a colony of penguins with another few hundred people from your cruise ship.
On a cruise ship you spend a few hours on land, on a continent far bigger than Europe. With White Desert you spend five to seven days on land, with 24 hours of daylight, and a spectacular new hotel from out of space.
So many people have Antarctica on their travel bucket list. Will you be one of the select few that actually go and experience the seventh continent?
Do You Have Questions About Antarctica?