90 degrees South: Stay on the seventh continent

White Desert offers luxury for the most adventurous on the seventh continent.

Each year, only a few thousand get to witness the Far South, in most part through cruise ships that limit such tours to the outer, more accessible parts of Antarctica and remain water borne. Even fewer venture past the tourist territories―for such extreme expeditions you have to be a scientist, a researcher, or an adventurer, right?

Well, thanks to a couple of such explorers—Patrick and Robyn Woodhead—the seventh continent is now a little less remote. The temporary Whichaway Camp is home to White Desert, a luxury ecosystem consisting of six heated sleeping pods, kitchen, a shower pod, and three pods for reception, lounge, and dining area. The sleeping pods have a 20-foot diameter and accommodate two people, with private toilet, washing area, and writing desk.

The camp is only operational during three months of the year, from November to January, during Antarctica’s summer. Tour packages at White Desert vary from a one-day jaunt to an eight-night escapade where the sun shines 24/7. The journey begins in Cape Town, South Africa, with a safety briefing one day before flying south. The five-and-a-half-hour trip to Antarctica takes place in a Gulfstream private jet over the Southern Ocean. The exclusive airplane, which took its first flight in November 2017 and is capped at 12 guests, lands “on a specially prepared blue ice runway.”

White Desert private jet flying

White Desert’s private jet flying over the South Ocean.

The entrance pod Whichaway Camp

The entrance pod at Whichaway Camp.

The dome with luxurious dining area

The dome with luxurious dining area.

The lounge dome

The lounge dome.

Families of Emperor penguins

One of the thousands of families of Emperor penguins.

The excursions offered are unlike anything up north. A two-hour flight along the coast lands an up-close encounter with a boisterous colony of Emperor penguins in their natural habitat, with more than “3,000 breeding pairs and their newly hatched chicks.” Just when you think the vantage-point can’t get any better, the next adventure will keep you on the edge of your seat. “The edge” in the literal sense is the lowest point of Earth—the southern pole—a seven-hour flight away. Apart from the Emperor & South Pole package, a four-day Ice & Mountains itinerary serves adrenaline junkies and includes treks, science base visits, ice climbing, abseiling, and high-lining across a lake. White Desert commissions expert guides for each adventure.

The camp follows strict policies to preserve the pristine ecology of the continent. White Desert offsets the emissions from air-travel and other activities by implementing accredited carbon-neutral schemes. The waste generated during the stay is transported to South Africa to be responsibly disposed of. A large portion of electricity and heat comes from solar energy through photovoltaic solar panels. Not only does it claim to follow environmental tourism guidelines laid out in the Antarctic Treaty, White Desert also implements its own zero impact policy and is thus a certified CarbonNeutral company.

Kite skiing

Kite skiing for adventurous souls.

Rock climbing

Rock climbing for those who like to live on the edge.

Ice Caves

Ice caves for the least claustrophobic.

Views while flying

Views while flying to the south pole.

Fun fact

White Desert’s website follows the daylight hours of Antarctica and changes from light to dark accordingly.

If you ever decide to take on this unique mix of luxury and adrenaline, your name will be added to the guest list with Prince Harry, renowned adventurer Bear Grylls, and the celebrated NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

For more information, visit www.white-desert.com.

Images courtesy of White Desert.