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South Pole Flights

Celebrating a century of Antarctic exploration

South Pole Flights

Experience the ultimate destination - the South Pole - where all 360 lines of longitude meet and in a few steps you can walk around the world

One of the greatest stories in Antarctic exploration is the race to reach the Geographic South Pole. The heroic journeys of Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton still fascinate and inspire us to travel to the end of the Earth.

Using ski aircraft we fly to the pole, covering in several hours the distance that took those early explorers years of planning and months of hardship to achieve. History comes alive as we stand at 90 South and imagine how they felt heading out across the frozen continent and into the unknown 100 years ago. We feel the spirit of determination and discovery that has inspired a century of Antarctic exploration and scientific research. And we sense that a journey to the South Pole is as significant today as it was so many years ago.

Join us to celebrate this historic achievement!

Accommodations

Union Glacier Camp
The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming at our main Antarctic camp at Union Glacier. You’ll find roomy, double occupancy sleeping tents; a spacious dining hall; fresh delicious meals; and a spectacular setting. You’ll be surprised how comfortable Antarctica can be! Our full-service camp is designed for Antarctic conditions and with best environmental practices in mind. It operates during the Antarctic summer (November through January) and is dismantled at the end of each season.

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Activity Level

Moderate
Moderate

Moderate trips offer adventure with a bit more challenge. They may include walking up to several miles/kilometres on uneven snow and ice; staying in remote field camps; extreme temperatures (–40°F / –40°C); or light activity at altitude (11,000ft / 3350m).

Trip CodeTo AntarcticaFrom AntarcticaDurationPrice (US$) *Availability
Season: 2014/2015
SP1Dec 7 2014Dec 13 20147 days$45,800Waiting List
SP2Dec 13 2014Dec 18 20146 days$45,800Available
SP3Dec 29 2014Jan 3 20156 days$45,800Available
SP4Jan 3 2015Jan 9 20157 days$45,800Waiting List

Dates & Rates Notes

* We reserve the right to revise our prices in the event of significant changes in the price of aviation kerosene and aircraft charter rates.

What's Included

ALL ANI Experiences include:

  • 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 accommodation while in Antarctica
  • Expedition Guide(s) (and naturalist or lecturer on some Experiences)
  • Use of recreational equipment at Union Glacier Camp
  • Official and personalised ANI Certificate of Achievement
  • A Baggage allowance of up to 55lbs (25kg) on Punta Arenas-Union Glacier flight
  • (Baggage allowance of up to 66lb (30kg) for Ski South Pole Hercules Inlet, Messner and Footsteps of Amundsen Expeditions)

SOME Experiences include:

  • Group camping equipment (when travelling beyond Union Glacier Camp)
  • Group climbing equipment (climbing expeditions)
  • Sled, harness, ski pole pogies (all ski expeditions)
  • Skis, ski skins, ski poles (Ski Last Degree)

Experiences DO NOT include:

  • 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 is available for rent from ANI for some Experiences)
  • 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

Day 1 Fly to Antarctica

Depart Punta Arenas Chile. Fly 4 ¼ hrs to Antarctica by private transport jet. Land on our ice runway and settle in at Union Glacier Camp.

Day 2  Acclimatize to Antarctica

Orientation to Union Glacier Camp and life in Antarctica. Optional, light activities to acclimatize to Antarctic conditions.

Day 3  The Geographic South Pole

A 4-5 hr flight brings us to the most southerly point on Earth! We are immediately struck by the significance of this place and our journey. 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. We will take plenty of time for photographs and reflection at the Geographic South Pole—the Holy Grail of polar explorers - and at the colorful Ceremonial Pole which commemorates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. Inside Amundsen-Scott station we 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 our chefs.

Days 4-6  The Heart of Antarctica

Experience the heart of Antarctica from the comfort of Union Glacier Camp. Daily program of activities such as skiing, hikes, walks, Antarctic skills sessions and talks. Delicious, hearty meals and delectable desserts prepared by our 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. Our ANI staff will meet you at Punta Arenas airport and transfer you to your hotel.

*Schedule
No two Antarctic experiences are the same. This is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. The itinerary above highlights typical activities and experiences. Exact timeline and details will vary from trip to trip. Trip length may vary by departure.

Please anticipate delays and do not plan anything for at least a week after your scheduled return. Allow yourself to enjoy this unique experience without the stress of pending commitments.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this Experience. More FAQ's can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Weather and Environment

Will it be cold?

All of our journeys take place in the Antarctic summer (November through January) when the weather is at its best. We advise on suitable clothing so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

The interior of Antarctica has a cold, dry, windy climate. Average mid-season temperatures at our base camp range from 10F to 25F (-12C to -4C ). On a sunny windless day it can feel quite warm but, when the wind blows, you will be glad of warm layers and a wind jacket. Temperatures can drop as low as -22F (-30C) in early November.

  • At the South Pole temperatures rarely climb above -13F (-25C) with light winds and wind chill of -40F (-40C).
  • Weather at the Emperor rookery is highly variable and influenced by coastal systems. Temperatures range from
    -22F (-30C) to near 32F (0C) with sunny and overcast skies and the possibility of heavy snowstorms.
  • Mount Vinson climbers and skiers heading to the South Pole should prepare for extreme temperatures -40F (-40C) and severe storms.

Do I need to ski?

The snow around Union Glacier Camp is generally firm and fine for walking. The same is true at the South Pole, Emperor penguin rookery and other fly-in destinations. We have skis for recreational use, but you do not have to ski.

We do not usually use skis to ascend Mount Vinson. The snow is generally quite firm and well-suited to cramponing. Experienced skier mountaineers may contact us to discuss the option of a ski ascent. (See Can I ski Mount Vinson)

Other climbing Experiences may involve skiing to speed up travel on the glaciers. We normally use Alpine Touring (AT) ski equipment. You don’t have to be a good skier, as skiing on flat terrain with AT gear is akin to walking, but those who have some Nordic or downhill experience will obviously find it easier. Guidelines are provided for each Experience.

Safety, Medical and Insurance

Do I need travel insurance?

All ANI guests are required to provide cover for medical evacuation, due to the high cost of evacuation from Antarctica.

We also strongly recommend that you consider Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance, to protect you in case you need to cancel for any reason. ANI Experiences are non-refundable within 90 days of departure.

Find more information and links to purchase travel insurance on our Travel Insurance pages.

Schedule and Itinerary

Will the itinerary be exactly the same as shown on the website?

Our itineraries are meant as a guide, to give you an idea of the kinds of activities and the flow of each Experience. However no two trips are exactly the same - and that is part of the excitement and adventure of Antarctic travel. Your unique itinerary will be tailored to your interests and abilities, weather conditions and coordination with other groups on the ice. Flight schedules are flexible and you should expect delays due to the unpredictable nature of Antarctic weather, runway conditions and other logistics.

What do we do when the weather is bad?

Poor weather days at Union Glacier Camp provide opportunities for talks and skills sessions on Antarctic themes such as navigation, crevasse rescue, cold weather injury, communications and meteorology. Ad hoc talks by visiting scientists, expedition teams and other guest-experts are always popular. Games, jigsaw puzzles and DVD's provide diversion. Or you can delve into our library of Antarctic books and light novels.

When should I arrive?

For most Experiences we ask that you arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile at least two full days (48 hours) before your scheduled departure. This allows time for clothing and equipment checks and provides a buffer in case you should miss a flight connection or have lost luggage. An environmental and logistics briefing will be held in the morning, on the day prior to departure. We will collect your luggage and load the aircraft that afternoon, ready for an early flight the following day.

Guests on longer ski traverses should arrive at least four full days prior to departure. We will spend the additional two days getting to know the team, reviewing expedition plans, making any last minute adjustments to equipment and finally packing our sleds ready for departure.

Please note that we cannot hold Antarctic flights for guests who are delayed arriving or who have lost luggage. We recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your trip, without the stress of tight timelines.

Clothing and Equipment

I'm not sure I have the correct equipment?

We provide detailed clothing and equipment lists for all of our Experiences. If you still have questions after reading our equipment lists and overview just drop us a line and we will be more than happy to help.

Can I rent clothing from you?

Guests on non-technical Experiences have the option to rent custom-designed Antarctic parka and windpants, boots and polar sleeping bag from us. This may be the most practical option if you think you will not use these specialized items again. Please let us know well in advance if you would like to rent any items, as we have limited stocks and items are available on a first-come first-served basis. Our rental clothing is not suitable for technical climbing and ski expeditions.

The clothing rental form appears on the Requirements & Forms tab for each Experience where clothing rental is an option.

Booking and Payment Information

I'm ready to book. What do I do?

Please email or call our office to confirm availablity on your chosen Experience and departure. We will ask you to fill out a medical form (and resume of experience for climbing and ski expeditions). Please fill these forms out completely and honestly. If we have any questions or concerns, we will work with you to resolve them. Once these have been approved, we will ask you send a deposit of $US 5000 to confirm your reservation.

More Frequently Asked Questions.

Skills and Experience

No previous experience or skills are required.

Training

No special training is required, just normal health and fitness. You should be comfortable walking on uneven, sometimes slippery snow and ice surfaces. We also recommend you have reasonable mobility as it makes it easier to step up and over tent doorways, buckle up boots while wearing bulky clothing and climb aircraft steps. Guests with high blood pressure should consult their physician.

Challenges

  • South Pole elevation 9300 ft (2835m). Physiological altitude approximately 11,000 ft (3350m)
  • South Pole flight day – 14 hour day; several hours, including walking and stair climbing, at altitude
  • Extreme temperatures and temperature changes at South Pole. -40F (-40C) outside. 70F (22C) inside Amundsen-Scott station

Visitor Guidelines

Our guests play a crucial role in helping us care for the Antarctic environment. Please review the guidelines below as part of your pre-trip preparation.

Forms

Map Image Overview: 
Map Image Detail: 
Detailed South Pole map

More map resources can be found on our Maps page

Our Commitment to Safety

Your safety is very important to us and we work closely with you to make sure you are well prepared for your Antarctic Experience.

All our activities are subject to detailed risk management and contingency planning that allow for the remote and harsh Antarctic environment. Our preparations include detailed emergency planning and equipment to deal with all eventualities.

Our team are known for their experience and expertise and we encourage a culture of safety by providing training and support. Our Union Glacier camp has a basic medical clinic staffed by a doctor and medic who specialize in emergency and remote medicine. We keep a 24-hour watch during our operating season and are ready to respond - day or night - in case of emergency.

We maintain other camp facilities and pre-placed fuel caches in the interior of Antarctica to support our flights. Established procedures and communication protocols and continued investment in equipment and technology all contribute to safe and enjoyable Experiences.

Environmental Ethic

IAATO logoANI’s mission is to set the highest possible environmental standards and to use best practices. We believe in responsible and sustainable tourism where our guests leave Antarctica with a greater appreciation of its remarkable natural values.

We encourage a culture of environmental stewardship through training and our activities are planned to have the minimum effect on the environment.