The Antarctic Wilderness: pristine and magical. Partly unexplored, it is a place of fabulous dreams; a place of wonder. For most people, really experiencing the Antarctic will remain a dream, if only because the remote and unyielding nature of the extremes that need to be overcome just to get to (and perhaps truly understand) such places are so challenging. But, to some of you perhaps, that’s the undoubted and oft-unrequited allure of proper travel in the far latitudes which, these days, is fully achievable.
We are delighted to have curated, with our trusted partners Arctic Trucks, a full east-west Transantarctic Crossing, South Africa to South America. The expedition is designed for up to six participants and recommended to depart in November.
This is no ordinary holiday. Instead, we are talking about a fully participatory and very real expedition which, whilst requiring daily commitment from all participants during the vehicular crossing, is achievable by almost anyone who is moderately fit. But what a trip!!
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At an appropriate moment before the expedition commences we highly recommend a long weekend visit to Iceland to experience using the vehicles and camp facilities out on one of the country’s famed glaciers. This will also allow you to become acquainted with the expertise of our guides.
This crossing expedition will start in Cape Town. Expedition members will need to arrive in South Africa a few days before flying into Antarctica to allow time for pre-flight briefings and any scheduling changes caused by weather, something that is always a variable factor when planning deep-field Antarctica travel. Then, on arrival at the Novo blue-ice runway on the eastern edge of the Antarctic Continent, you will be met by Arctic Trucks’ guides who, depending on expedition rostering, you may have already met in Iceland.
Your expedition will then set out, first backtracking a few hours to the Nivlisen Iceshelf which marks the very edge of continental Antarctica and from where the continental crossing expedition will officially begin.
Over the next four weeks or so the expedition will first drive up from the eastern Antarctic coast and climb upwards through the magnificent Humboldt Mountains on to the Antarctic Plateau. In the mountains , as well as daily camping, there may be halts allowing time to explore (there are still places where no human has yet set foot) and also, importantly, to acclimatise to the elevated wilderness of white that is the Plateau.
Having ascended from the coast, the Plateau then stretches away into the distance and the expedition will drive first to “FD83”, a fuel cache and skiway for aircraft, and then onwards before arriving at the South Pole itself!
En route we will arrange for any (reasonable!) personal “must do” items to be included; for instance to explore as mentioned above or, perhaps more to the point, to complete any personal “wish list” desires to walk, ski or “manhaul” the last degree in to the Pole, thus arriving at the Pole in self-propelled style.
The team will spend at least one night at the Pole to celebrate and contemplate the journey thus far, before heading out to Western Antarctica and gradually descending first from the Pole to Thiels Mountains (the first sign of rock since arriving on the Plateau) and then continuing down to nearer sea level at the edge of the Ronne Iceshelf. Ronne lies close to the foot of the Antarctic Peninsula and will mark the technical finish of an incredible achievement: a full Antarctic Crossing, a true expedition - and the trip of a lifetime.
From Ronne, the expedition will drive the few hours inland to Union Glacier Camp. “UG” is simple but comfortable (and that first shower will be pure luxury!), located in the Heritage Range of the Ellsworth Mountains which fringe the foot of the Antarctic Peninsula. The camp’s famed blue ice runway is the entry and exit point for most Antarctic deep-field operations. Finally, from UG, you will fly out to re-join civilisation at Punta Arenas, Chile, before returning home from South America. Assuming no serious weather or other delays, participants should be home in good time for Christmas.
This is a truly immersive experience designed to satisfy the wishes of those who are looking for a real adventure, albeit one which is professionally equipped and guided by highly experienced operators of many years’ standing using vehicles that are likely to be the latest development in terms of such travel (see below for more about Arctic Trucks). What’s more, the expedition will give participants an insight into Antarctica that is not normally available to tourism.
Yes, one can nibble at the edges of the polar ice caps in cruise liners and, in one or two cases (their very rarity giving some clue to the logistical challenges that need to be overcome simply to make such product work), be flown into accessible locations on the Antarctic continent to stay for a few days in relative luxury and at least taste the magnificent, icy, Antarctic wonderlands. As part of such a trip one can even be flown to the South Pole for a quick “look I was there” visit to the Bottom Of The World. But these tourism-oriented products are not the same as exploring or satisfying that querulous lust to see, experience, touch and deeply feel places that are out of normal human reach. Nor do they satisfy those individuals who want to achieve something more unique or, perhaps, fill a “bucket list” wish and therefore make such elevated adventure travel uniquely personal.
In passing, there’s a real frisson here of the “what if” that comes with contemplating travel in space. But, whilst going in to space is becoming technically possible for us humans who are not professional astronauts, truly travelling in Antarctica is totally achievable - right now - for anyone who is reasonably fit and has sufficient depth of enquiry, humour and resource to make the most of such a fabulous opportunity. Having a few weeks to spare also helps because travelling to really experience Antarctica will consume a bit more time than just flying off on holiday; but, then, this is the experience of a lifetime and we, here at The Explorations Company, take the strain of as much of the planning as possible to help make everything seamless.
For many years now TEC has had a very close allegiance with a highly specialist business in Iceland, Arctic Trucks. Working closely together and collaborating with the UK FCO, our Antarctic permitting authority, our two companies have successfully organised and delivered expedition briefs ranging from Royal Enfield’s ground breaking trip to the South Pole (over 2 years in the planning and completed despite massive problems surrounding Covid) to a current-season and just-finished western Antarctic crossing for a private client following in the footsteps of Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary’s 1955/8 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
So now we bring another expedition to the table, one that must pique the interest of some of you as possible participants!
Having provided close-field support to polar travel since 1996 and, in the process, covered over 370,000 kms in Antarctica alone, Arctic Trucks were originators of the concept of very-light-footprint wheeled travel in conditions of deep cold, snow and ice; something they have continually developed since inception.
The company’s special capabilities, which include full camp and logistical support, mean individuals, whatever their goal, as well as science, governments and NGOs can reliably and comfortably access remote polar environments by ultra-low-impact 4x4 and 4x6 vehicle.
Arctic Trucks’ superb guides and employees are the heart of a totally professional team which has an excellent record of care, the company’s safety-first policy being paramount throughout its operations. One would expect this in extreme environments but Arctic Trucks are also a pioneer of low-emission solutions for such delicate environments, continually researching and implementing improvements. Furthermore, as part of each mission (and often being anyway the only people able to actually access many locations), Arctic Trucks aim to contribute to specialist data gathering wherever possible; assignments therefore often having significant secondary benefit that can be shared with science, whatever the physical mission objective.
This time next year you could have achieved this incredible feat. Please do get in touch with us now to start the dialogue or do, please, pass this blog to any friends, colleagues or acquaintances who may be interested!
- Utterly designed and tailored around you and your requirements
- Totally unique every time you travel with us
- The very best hand picked guides which can make the difference between a good and an outstanding holiday
- Established over 30 years ago we have been around longer than most
- Our specialists come from, have lived in or travelled extensively in the regions we cover
- Unparalleled knowledge provides you with the best possible experience
- Philanthropy is our philosophy
- Our founding principle is to always ‘put something back’
- An amount from each holiday is donated to our selected conservation and humanitarian charities
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
Nicola Shepherd, founder and CEO of The Exploration Company, organises unusual trips for HNW and UHNW clients ranging from birthday parties at an Indian Maharajah's palace to reliving Sir Vivian Fuchs's 1950s expedition to the South Pole. Citywealth caught ...
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