A peak of Antarctica’s Drygalski mountains.
The travel company White Desert specializes in pioneering, luxury Antarctic adventures ranging from a four hour trip to hike and picnic on the ice to a 24 day cornucopia of excursions with activities such as helicopter sightings of icebergs, hiking through ice tunnels and underwater explorations in a three seater submersible. The next step, apparently, was to go where no one else had gone before so the company is set to introduce a trip for January, 2022 titled “Virgin Summit,” an eight day excursion for a maximum of 12 travelers into the Drygalski mountains to climb peaks visitors to the White Continent haven’t climbed before. Individual spaces cost $45,000 and to charter for a guest’s own group: $540,000.
White Desert’s Gulfstream G550 landing on the blue ice Wolf’s Fang Runway.
The trip begins, as do all of the White Desert adventures, with a five hour flight in on the company’s Gulfstream G550 jet from Cape Town to the blue ice of Wolf’s Fang Runway. Guests are then transferred to a Basier BT-67 prop plane for a 30 minute flight to the company’s luxury camp at Whichaway Oasis. The camp, located in an ice free zone on the edge of a frozen lake, consists of seven heated, high tech polar domes with full bathrooms as accommodations along with other pods housing the reception area, lounge and dining room. Ingredients and Cape wines have also come in from South Africa for the chefs to prepare restaurant quality pre-excursion breakfasts, lunches and three course dinners. On this first day, guests can do a gentle hike around the Oasis.
The pods of Whichaway Oasis.
While at the Oasis, guests can be as adrenaline-fueled or relaxed as they want. Guides can lead them through the nearby serpentine frozen waves of ice and ice tunnels, accompany them fat biking over the ice or climbing hills. Those who would prefer lazier days can choose a sauna and massage in the wellness pod added for the 2021-2022 season while looking out at the frozen landscape.
The ice waves near Whichaway Oasis.
Following this introduction to the continent, on the third day the group will be flown to the Drygalski mountains and then transferred by land for 12 ½ miles over glaciers to the base of the mountain range. Guides set up a camp for the expedition on a glacier and after a night there, the group will take advantage of 24 hour sunshine to climb the previously unexplored peak. After a celebration dinner and another night in the camp, the group does the return trip, stopping midway for some ice climbing. A 20 minute flight brings them back to Whichaway Oasis and an even grander celebration dinner. The next day is spent in further exploration of the ice waves and ice tunnels followed by a last day doing a rigorous hike along a winding cliff face. (All guides have undergone the five year UIAGM-International Federation of Mountain Guides Association-certification.) On the last day, guests board the Gulfstream for the return trip to South Africa with a last glance out the window to this one of a kind setting, wondering how they’re going to describe this experience to their friends.
I’ve been covering luxury/experiential travel and food for the last 20 years, for Forbes since 2004 and previously for Departures. I’m also currently contributing to the