September 9, 2021

The Great Escape to Antarctica

It is a rare privilege to set foot on Antarctica’s ancient blue ice and immerse yourself in an otherworldly environment guaranteed to fascinate, challenge and change you. Antarctica is not to be trifled with; it is a vast, ancient world owned—and tamed—by no one. Parts of this ice-sheet continent have had continuous glacier cover for perhaps as long as 20 million years.

The Great Escape to Antarctica

After landing on the ancient blue ice, guests are whisked away to luxury retreats with breathtaking views.

Inspired by space exploration

Echo is located in quiet solitude encircled by pitted rock formations and was inspired by the seminal age of Space exploration. Echo is as close as you can get to feeling like you are off the planet.

The space-age design of the 'Sky Pods' makes them look like they've been beamed down from Mars. The six bedrooms are futuristic and luxurious from composite fibreglass with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing guests to soak in the moon-like landscape beyond.

Perfect for exclusive use groups and catering for up to 12 people, Echo allows guests to combine an ultra-luxury experience with a once in a lifetime adventure. As with all White Desert's camps, Echo is designed to be dismantled, leaving no trace on the Antarctic landscape.

"I am haunted by Antarctica… Nothing prepares you for this place. It is a continent of superlatives—the coldest, driest, highest, windiest space on the planet. But its beauty is what will break your heart." - Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler

The perfect combination of adventure and luxury

Just a five-hour flight by Gulfstream jet from Cape Town gets you to Wolf's Fang ice runway in Queen Maud Land.

The crystal air, marvellous light, the sculptural sweep of snow and ice, and the sharp mountain peaks of the Henriksen Nunataks that pierce through the glaciers envelop you. Expect to be dwarfed by the wild, austere majesty.

Antarctica's landscapes are surreal and hauntingly beautiful. The luminous light in the ice tunnels whittled out beneath the Southern Ocean makes them a photographer's dream. The horizon is endless from the summit of a nunatak: the world's largest ice sheet is the essence of infinity. The wind etches its stories into the shapes and forms of the frozen landscape, and the glacial meltwater rivers and streams form turquoise capillaries that undulate through the bright white snowscapes during the ephemeral Antarctic summer.

From the warm cocoon of your base camp, each day brings new encounters and new wonders. Even now, reaching the southernmost point on Earth is a feat achieved by very few, and it certainly is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. A flight to the geographic South Pole brings you to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station made famous by those legendary polar explorers.

"…I felt in awe of this place, of its scale, its splendour, its beauty. And with that awe, my own life, with all its anxieties and concerns, its minor triumphs and rather less minor failures, its pain and its hurts, shrank away." - Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler

A day at the 28,000-strong colony of emperor penguins in Atka Bay—the largest penguin species is life-changing for the wildlife lover. Emperor penguins have no natural predators, so they are unafraid of humans, giving you the chance to immerse yourself in the noise and commotion of the colony. At the fringes, you may see predatory Southern Giant Petrels and South Polar Skuas and Leopard and Wedder seals.

Thrill-seekers will rise to the challenge of scaling blue-ice glaciers—formed millennia ago—or summiting a nunatak during rock-climbing expeditions guided by former world-champion climbers. Antarctica is not just for athletes, however. If ice climbing or abseiling down an ice wall is not on your bucket list, treks and exploration by ski or skidoo give you unprecedented access to this snowy wonderland. And there is enormous peace and serenity to be found in gentle hikes in these pristine surroundings. Listen out for the sounds of silence: from the wail of the wind to the ghostly singing of the vibrating ice shelf or the sharp cracks of breaking sea ice reverberating through the icy air. The Antarctic soundtrack is a phenomenon: curiously compelling and one-hundred-per cent natural.

Photo credit: Wolf's Fang Cocktails & Canapes

The Antarctic season is short – these camps are accessible only in the southern hemisphere summer months of November to January, so book now.

Given the vagaries of the Antarctic weather, you must be based in Cape Town for at least two days before your scheduled departure date, ready for a weather gap. But who needs an excuse to visit this über-cool city? In Residence by Pieter Brundyn has exclusive-use villas to match the wow factor of Antarctica, albeit for completely different reasons – so speak to us to find your perfect match.

"But Antarctica is never just a journey. It's in the nature of this remarkable place that traversing it is always about something more than the challenges of its geography." - Stanley Stewart, 
Photo credit: © Kelvin Trautman
Photo credit: © Marko Prezelj
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