Antarctica: The Ultimate Mini-Break

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As the winter well and truly makes its presence felt across Europe and the summer stretches like a distant mirage, it’s the perfect time for dreaming of mini-breaks: short getaways that satisfy a longing for adventure in half the time of a full-blown holiday. France has its ski slopes, Reykjavik its geothermal pools; New York has Fifth Avenue and Broadway. But if you have four days to spare and a little extra to spend, you can access what has to be the ultimate mini-break location: Antarctica.

That’s right, Antarctica – the earth’s southernmost continent, the land of ice and snow, of Shackleton and Amundson; the greatest wilderness on earth. Very few step foot on the Antarctic continent – fewer still have the opportunity to experience its interior, but that’s exactly what guests on White Desert’s 2 Day Safari are able to do. Bookended by a further two days in the sea air and sunshine of Cape Town, there really is no beating the experience.

The trip of a lifetime begins on 6 January 2015, where you’ll have ample opportunity to enjoy Cape Town’s summer attractions in between attending a safety briefing at the White Desert headquarters. From world-class beaches to spectacular wine country, Cape Town has it all, and January is the perfect time to sit back with a cocktail and soak up the good vibrations. It’s a bizarre contrast to the icy destination that awaits, but one that ensures you get the best of both worlds.

At 10pm the following day, you’ll set off on board an Illuyshin 76 intercontinental jet, flying for just five and a half hours over the Southern Ocean to reach Antarctic shores. Once the plane passes over the Polar Circle, you’re in the land of the midnight sun, with hundreds of icebergs shimmering bright blue below you as you pass. You’ll land on an ice runway, perched atop a 50m-high frozen waterfall, specially created by the White Desert team. Custom modified 4x4s will whisk you to your camp, where you can settle into the cosy guest chalets. With this as your base, you’ll enjoy two full days of activities, before flying back to Cape Town on the night of 9 January.

One of the best features of the trip is that you can choose adventures that suit both your interests and fitness levels, from gentle hikes to a nearby oasis or time spent exploring ice tunnels and caves, to a challenging climb of Mount Shirmacher, or a visit to the Adelie penguin nesting site nearby. Throughout, White Desert has expert guides on hand to assist – real polar explorers whose experience and passion for the area ensure you’ll be safe, informed and inspired. Back at the chalets, there’s a sauna to be enjoyed, chef-prepared meals to be savoured, and stories to be shared. Almost all the (cold) comforts of home.

Of course, there are months when Antarctica isn’t nearly so hospitable, but at a mild -8 Celsius, the summer months are positively balmy. Better yet, there are no fitness requirements, and the choice of activities ensures that everyone can get the most out of the experience. It’s hard to believe the ends of the earth really can be so hospitable – but you’ll just have to try it for yourself to find out!

6th January 2015
This is the day before the flight. A safety briefing will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, going through each element of the trip and check that guests have all the proper equipment and clothing.

7th January 2015
Usually flying out at 22:00 in the evening, guests are allowed to spend the day enjoying some of the many sites and beaches that Cape Town has to offer. Transfers will be arranged from the guests’ hotels to Cape Town International airport. After a 5.5hrs flight, guests arrive at the ice runway of ‘Novo’ in  Dronning Maud Land very early the next morning (0330am local time). Stepping off the plane, guests will become one of the few that have ever experienced the interior of the Antarctic continent.

8th January 2015
Guests are transferred via 4×4 to The Guesthouse camp (about 30mins drive time) and settle into the comfortable chalets. The day is filled with a selection of Antarctic activities, with expert guides ensuring guests are safe, warm and doing exactly what it is they want to do. The evening is a chance to relax with a sauna, good food and the option of a presentation.

9th January 2015
Guests will have almost the entire next day in Antarctica, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the range of activities on offer. The flight out of Antarctica is scheduled for 22:00 that evening, arriving in Cape Town at 0600am the following day. Transfers from the airport to guests’ hotels are included. 

*This itinerary is entirely subject to weather conditions in Antarctica and is meant as a day-by-day guide of what clients can expect. Exact dates and types of plane may vary.

€25,000 per person.

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