Trip Summary and Itinerary Map
- Spend 3 days exploring the heart of Antarctica, witnessing the extraordinary scenery and geology
- Reach the South Pole, joining a small group of people who have travelled this far south
- Explore the pole for 3-4 hours at the South Pole, the perfect length of time to enjoy the experience given the cold/altitude
- Imagine how it felt to head out across the frozen continent over 100 years ago
- Celebratory dinner after the visit
Arrival in Punta Arenas, Chile
We ask you to arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile at least two full days prior to your scheduled Antarctic flight in order to fully prepare you for the upcoming experience. These days also allow a buffer for flight and luggage delays should your travels to Chile not go as scheduled.
During these days, a clothing and equipment check will be arranged at your hotel. The day before your departure, all luggage will be prepared and your checked luggage will be collected. The evening before the flight you will join the safety briefing, which will introduce you to the process, update on current weather, and prepare you for your arrival at Union Glacier. Afterwards, you can enjoy hors d'oeuvres and pisco sours with your fellow travellers.
Day 1: Fly to Antarctica
In the morning, you'll be advised on current weather conditions and whether the flight will therefore be going ahead. If the weather is suitable, you'll be picked up from the hotel within the hour and transfer to Punta Arenas Airport.
Fly a little more than 4 hours to Antarctica by private transport jet. The route crosses the Drake Passage, then follows the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the spine of the Ellsworth Mountains. You'll land on the blue-ice runway and travel to Union Glacier Camp five miles away.
Days 2-5: Explore the heart of Antarctica
During your week stay in Antarctica, you’ll have multiple days to experience the heart of Antarctica from the comfort of Union Glacier Camp.
The meteorologists will carefully monitor the weather conditions and find the best day for your South Pole Flight. A typical day at Union Glacier starts with a briefing after breakfast where you’ll meet with your guide to discuss the day’s options and choose an activity tailored to the weather and the group’s interests.
Union Glacier excursions can include any of the following destinations:
Elephant’s Head – Ride in one of the wheeled vehicles to this dramatic marble buttress overlooking the blue-ice runway. Geology lovers will be delighted to find this is a hotspot for ichnofossils. Experienced guides can help you navigate by GPS to known trace fossils or accompany you on a mission to discover new ones. For photographers, beautiful ice pools and moraines offer endless opportunities to capture close-up frozen formations or wide angle glacial landscapes. Hikers can trek up to the base of Elephant’s Head or all the way to the top of Rhodes Bluff for panoramic views of Union Glacier and the Heritage Range.
Buchanan Hills – Board the one-of-a-kind Tucker Bus, a custom designed tracked vehicle, for the scenic drive to the remote Buchanan Hills. You’ll arrive at a high pass that offers expansive views of Union Glacier as it flows into Constellation Inlet. Higgins Nunatak pokes through the ice, like an atoll in a frozen ocean. For the fit and adventurous, there are two easy hiking routes that require no prior experience and grant you the rare opportunity to summit a peak in the heart of Antarctica.
Drake Icefall – Named in the 1960s after geologist Benjamin Drake IV, this impressive icefall tumbles off the polar plateau into Union Glacier. Winds from the South Pole carve huge waves into the blue-ice and polish the surface into a high shine.
Charles Peak Windscoop – Discover the power of wind on ice as you wander through a sparkling turquoise corridor. If you’re truly adventurous, this is a prime place to try ice climbing with one of our experienced guides. For the less vertically inclined, you can rock hunt to your heart’s content. Just remember to leave them in place, as nothing may be removed from Antarctica.
The Beach at Rossman Cove – Another spectacular setting for blue-ice photography and panoramic views! Take cross-country skis with you or a picnic lunch and enjoy Antarctica’s version of a glacial beach getaway.
If you’d prefer to stay closer to camp, there are a variety of activities for all abilities. You can check out a pair of cross-country skis or a fat-tire bike and take a spin around the groomed 10k loop or you can enjoy a cup of tea, an Antarctic book, or game in the camp library. In the evenings, there are regular lectures and films tailored to your experience.
Day 6: The Geographic South Pole
Once weather conditions permit, you will board the ski aircraft and head for the southernmost point on Earth! Your flight is planned to return the same day but food and camping equipment will be brought in the event weather conditions change and an overnight stay is necessary.
A 4-5 hr flight brings you to the most southerly point on Earth! You'll be immediately struck by the significance of this place and your journey there. This was the goal of the heroic explorers. Here all 360 lines of longitude meet and in a few steps you can walk around the world.
You will have 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. Inside Amundsen-Scott station you will see what it is like to live at the South Pole and learn what makes the South Pole a unique scientific laboratory.
The South Pole has been designated an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA #5) to conserve the environmental, scientific and historical values of the area. We ask for your cooperation in respecting visitor guidelines during any time we may spend at the South Pole.
Return flight to Union Glacier Camp, where we will toast our achievement and enjoy a celebration meal prepared by the chefs.
Day 7: Return to Punta Arenas, Chile
The aircraft from Punta Arenas will arrive with a new collection of avid explorers and you depart for the final leg of your Antarctic experience. The staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel.
NOTE: This itinerary is for guidance only as each voyage will vary depending on ice and weather conditions, and opportunities to see wildlife. Flexibility is key and all part of the adventure of an expeditionary cruise.
Prices, Departures and Inclusions
- Transfers to and from Punta Arenas airport (Chile)
- Briefing with refreshments in Punta Arenas one day prior to departure
- Round trip flights from Punta Arenas to Antarctica
- All flights within Antarctica as shown in your itinerary
- Meals and tented accommodation while in Antarctica
- Celebration dinner after the South Pole visit
- Mountain guide
- Official and personalised Certificate of Achievement
- A baggage allowance of up to 55lbs (25kg)
- Commercial flights to and from Punta Arenas
- Flights within Antarctica, other than those shown in itinerary
- Meals and accommodation in Punta Arenas
- Airport transfers other than in Punta Arenas
- Personal equipment and clothing (polar clothing may be available for rent)
- Expenses incurred in Punta Arenas due to delays
- Any excess baggage costs over confirmed baggage allowance
- Cost for the use of satellite phone whilst in Antarctica
- Insurance coverage - personal, medical, evacuation or otherwise