Adventure Network International’s Top 10 Reasons for Flying to the South Pole
Adventure Network International (ANI) has been organising expeditions to the South Pole since 1985, when it pioneered the first private flight in to Antarctica. More than 25 years on, as Walking With The Wounded teams face the 335km South Pole Allied Challenge, ANI is well placed to tell the rest of us why we should visit the South Pole – albeit in slightly more comfort.
1. To Explore the Ends of the Earth
Engage your spirit of adventure and explore the most remote, least-travelled continent on Earth. Antarctica is a stunningly beautiful, fiercely hostile, immense and pristine wilderness, and the South Pole lies at the heart of it, 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from the nearest continent. Only about 50 visitors fly to the South Pole with ANI each year, less than summit Everest or sail to the North Pole.
2. To Experience Authentic Adventure Travel
This is REAL adventure travel, in a natural and untamed setting, with raw, authentic experiences that challenge travellers to step outside of their comfort zone and to confront life head on. Experience the thrill and sense of rejuvenation of leaving behind day-to-day routine, to take on and overcome challenges in an unfamiliar environment.
3. To Walk in the Footsteps of Heroic Explorers
The South Pole, the ‘last great geographical prize’, was first achieved just over 100 years ago. The epic contest between Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott is a gripping tale of skill and daring, triumph and tragedy. There is something profound about standing at 90° South where those heroic explorers once stood. Today’s travellers have the benefit of modern equipment during their journey, and stand in awe of those who journeyed a century before with no such comforts in the name of Antarctic exploration and scientific research.
4. To Get Back to Basics
The Antarctic is one of the few places on Earth where it’s possible to get back to basics: good food, good company, genuine experiences and awe-inspiring surroundings. Plus it’s on that list of things to do before you die.
There is no mobile phone or Internet service and even satellite phones have trouble working so far south. Immerse yourself in this amazing experience without having to check voicemail messages or reply to emails. (There is an Iridium phone at Union Glacier Camp, but we won’t tell if you don’t.)
5. To Re-Awaken Your Senses
Antarctica is otherworldly. It challenges conventional ideas about space, time and direction, forcing visitors to look at the world through fresh eyes. In the words of one guest, “You’re just a little speck on this vast continent, and you have a sense of vastness and isolation . . . that’s exciting.”
The sun circles the sky 24-hours a day, time zones are chosen for convenience and schedules respond to natural forces, leaving you to play with time, or forget about it entirely. Even words like north and south become unreliable at the South Pole, where every direction is north, there is no south, and in a few steps you can walk around the world.
Best of all, when you return home the night’s darkness, a warm breeze and the lush green of plants feel surprising and new.
6. To Experience The Thrill of Landing on a Blue Ice Runway
There are relatively few people in the world to have experienced landing on a blue ice – snow free – runway.
ANI was instrumental in the first landing of a conventional aircraft in the Antarctic interior at Patriot Hills more than 25 years ago. Today its Ilyushin IL-76, lands at Union Glacier on an into-wind runway, which allows a more predictable flight schedule with less likelihood of delays, plus enhanced logistic support. Patriot Hills continues to act as a secondary runway.
7. To Encounter The Unexpected!
Where else in the world would you find a Latvian Bakery open at midnight, serving freshly baked goodies, which bring comfort to travellers in the sometimes harsh Antarctic climate?!
Operating from ANI’s Union Glacier Camp, the bakery is run by Latvian girls, Jolanta and Inga, who sneak in to the kitchen at 9pm with a sense of guilty pleasure, after the chefs have finished their work.
Top of their most popular freshly baked treats are cinnamon rolls, biscotti and oatmeal ‘power’ cookies. These have become an incentive among participants on some of ANI’s more strenuous expeditions to help them through the gruelling experience!
8. To Meet Like-Minded Travellers
ANI’s Union Glacier Camp is a crossroads for modern-day explorers, adventurers and scientists. The relaxed atmosphere makes it easy to meet and share stories with like-minded adventurers from around the world and you never know who you might meet. Staff and guests have included polar record holders, Everest guides, world-renowned mountaineers, leading-edge climate change scientists, astronauts, presidents and world leaders.
9. To See The Sights
Travellers have the opportunity to visit the Amundsen-Scott station where they learn what it is like to live at the South Pole and why it is such a unique scientific laboratory. They also receive a special South Pole stamp in their passport!
There is plenty of time for photographs and reflection at the Geographic South Pole – the Holy Grail of polar explorers – and at the colourful Ceremonial Pole, which commemorates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty.
10. To Participate in Life At Union Glacier Camp
Situated in the south Ellsworth Mountains on the broad expanse of Union Glacier, ANI’s main camp offers comfortable accommodation in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere in the middle of the Antarctic.
Meals are fresh and delicious; tents are double-walled and spacious with comfortable mattresses, and there’s a daily programme of activities including cross-country skiing, hikes, climbing and walking.
Experienced guides offer the opportunity to visit the likes of Drake Icefall, Rossman Cove with its ancient glacial moraines, the frozen ice pools and unusual rock formations of Elephant’s Head, as well as the spectacular ice scenery of Charles Peak.
For further information about ANI’s South Pole Flights Experience, visit adventure-network.com