There are some places in this world that just have to be seen to be believed – the White Continent is one of them. This island of ice – roughly the size of the US and Mexico combined – was the last region on Earth to be discovered until Russian explorers spotted one of its ice shelves in the early 19th century. Reaching Antarctica in the 21st century can still feel like an out-of-this-world adventure. But it’s getting easier, and certainly more comfortable.
Surrounded by the Southern Ocean, luxury expedition ships are a tried and true way of reaching this distant landmass. PONANT recently launched a hybrid-electric polar-exploration ship that combines sustainable small-ship travel with refined dining and lush accommodations.
It carries 200 passengers toward an island that’s 98% covered in ice: glaciers for days, blue crevasses hundreds of feet deep, icebergs along the coast that drop car-sized chunks into the seas, not to mention the "diamond dust" that sparkles in the air around you. It’s a glorious sight to see and we haven’t even talked about the 20-million adorable penguins that call this place home.
But if you haven’t got the time (or the stomach) to cross the Drake Passage by ship, why not fly in? White Desert is a top luxury offering that brings its guests in from Cape Town on a private jet. If you’re already in Cape Town, you could, in fact, touch down and check Antarctica off your list in just 24 hours. But if you’re coming this far, take a few days at one of White Desert’s cozy carbon-neutral camps to revel in this rare wilderness experience.