Queen Maud Land, Antarctica

Photo: White Desert

Antarctica is even more breathtaking than you expected. Since arriving on the southernmost continent, you’ve had one adventure after another. A helicopter ride over the vast ice sheet. A visit with thousands of emperor penguins—and their fluffy chicks—around Atka Bay. A trek into an iridescent ice cave. Plus a zip-line across a frozen lake. All of this has been possible thanks to your luxury camp.

Most visits to Antarctica are centered around huge vessels. You’d stay on a massive ship at night and ride an inflatable boat to the shore for daily excursions. Not this time. Whichaway Camp is the first luxury accommodation on Antarctica. It’s in Queen Maud Land in East Antarctica. It sits next to a 200-foot ice cliff and a frozen lake. It features environmentally friendly pods, which can easily be removed without a trace. It’s only open in November and December. While it’s considered a once-in-a-lifetime destination.

Queen Maud Land is the Norwegian territory on Antarctica. A Norwegian was the first known person to set foot here in 1930. By the end of the decade, Norway claimed the land. It now covers one million square miles. The British Antarctic Territory is to the west. The Australian Antarctic Territory is to the east. It extends all the way from the King Haakon VII Sea in the north to the South Pole. Except for a few rocky peaks, it’s covered with ice. That means no humans can permanently live here. There are 12 active research stations—about 40 scientists live here each year—and an airfield where flights from Cape Town, South Africa land. That’s how you got here.

Photo: White Desert

You were surprised when you saw how luxurious the camp was. It’s made up of fiberglass pods, which are insulated, heated, and, once inside, completely sheltered from the elements. Each has a modern meets early Victorian vibe and is decorated with a lot of fur. There are six sleeping pods. Each 20-foot pod fits two people, a writing desk, a wash area, and a toilet. The shower is in a separate, communal pod. So is the kitchen, the lounge, and the dining room. Maps of the South Pole are everywhere.

After a full day of exploring, the pods are a sight for sore eyes. You take a hot shower to get the chill out of your bones. You relax in your sleeping pod to scroll through the photographs on your camera and take notes about the day. You hang out in the lounge and plan the next adventure. You eat a gourmet dinner, featuring fresh seafood and lots of champagne, at the large round table. Then, despite the sun never setting, sleep comes quickly, as the adrenaline drains from your body. It’s sure to return bright and early tomorrow morning.

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