Day 1 Arrival in Punta Arenas
Upon arrival at Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (PUQ), meet your representative at the exit of the luggage claim area and transfer to your hotel. A time will be arranged for a clothing and equipment review, as well as the time of the Welcome & Safety Briefing. These events are required and very important steps in preparing you for arrival in Antarctica.
*Please note you are required to arrive in Punta Arenas a minimum of 48 hours prior to your scheduled Antarctica flight to fully prepare for your upcoming experience. These days also allow a buffer in case of flight or luggage delays. Antarctic flights will not be held for delayed passengers or luggage.
Day 2 Pre-Departure Day
This morning, a representative will come to your hotel lobby at your scheduled Luggage Pick-Up time. All luggage will be weighed, but only checked luggage will be collected at this time in order to preload the aircraft.
This evening, you are invited for an important safety briefing. Here, the flight dispatch process will be described and you will be updated on the current weather to prepare you for arrival in Antarctica. Stay to enjoy hors d'oeuvres and pisco sours served over Antarctic ice with your fellow passengers. And don't forget to take your boarding pass and commemorative cocktail glass with you!
Day 3 Fly to Antarctica
This morning, you will be called at your hotel and advised of current conditions in Antarctica. If the weather is suitable for the flight, you are picked up at your hotel by bus within the hour. At the Punta Arenas airport, board a chartered jet for the 4¼ hour flight to Antarctica. The route crosses the Drake Passage, then follows the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the spine of the Ellsworth Mountains. Land on a naturally occurring blue-ice runway on Union Glacier where you will take your first steps in Antarctica. Climb aboard a specially-adapted van for the 5 mi (8 km) shuttle to the main camp. The friendly staff will provide a welcome tour of camp and show you to your tent.
Day 4-5 Expedition Preparations
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
You will spend a couple of days at Union Glacier to test your clothing and equipment and practice sled hauling on a mini-expedition outside of camp with your team. Then you’ll pack your sleds and prepare for departure.
Day 6 Fly to 89° South
Fly by ski aircraft to 89° South, 60 nautical miles (69 mi/111 km) from the South Pole. As the aircraft disappears from view, you’ll be struck by the stark beauty and emptiness surrounding you. There is nothing but snow and wide horizons in all directions. Your team will pack sleds and ski a short distance before setting up camp for your first night on the expedition. You have just arrived at altitude and it is important that your pace is slow during this initial ski.
Day 7-11 Ski to the Pole
- 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
Continuing your trek south, you’ll ski longer periods each day to begin acclimatizing to the cold and altitude. The elevation here is 9,300 ft (2835 m) but to your body, it will feel more like 10,500 ft (3200 m) due to the lower atmospheric pressure at the poles. Throughout the expedition, you’ll notice the altitude’s impact on your breathing and your stamina. This journey is physically demanding. Your sled will weigh approximately 66 lb (30 kg) and the snow may be sculpted by the wind into steep ridges called sastrugi, adding to the challenge. Acclimatizing slowly gives your team its best chance for success.
A ‘typical’ day starts with breakfast at 8 am and the team packed up and skiing by 10 am. You’ll make a series of 1-hour marches, stopping for 5-10 minutes each hour for a brief rest and snack break. You’ll travel until about 7 pm and then stop to set up camp and enjoy dinner together. As on all expeditions, success is a team effort, with everyone helping to pitch tents and prepare meals.
The Amundsen-Scott Station may be visible from around 15 mi (24 km) away but those last miles can seem the longest and may take another 1-2 days of travel.
Day 12 Arrive at the South Pole
Finally, you’ll take the last steps to your goal and reach the most southerly point on Earth – the Geographic South Pole! Here, beneath your feet, all 360 lines of longitude meet and the ice is almost 10,000 ft (3000 m) thick. Feel the satisfaction of having arrived here under your own power and reflect on how it must have felt to stand in this place over one hundred years ago, with only the sound of the wind and an endless expanse of white stretching northward in all directions.
You may camp overnight at the South Pole until your pick-up by ski aircraft. The South Pole is an Antarctic Specially Managed Area (ASMA #5). Please respect established protocols while at the South Pole.
Day 13 Return to Union Glacier
The field staff will stay in close contact with Union Glacier Camp to identify the best ‘weather window’ for your return flight. Depending on flights, your team’s celebration dinner may take place at our South Pole camp or upon your return to Union Glacier. You’ll receive a certificate to commemorate your Ski Last Degree Expedition and may have at least one day to explore more of Union Glacier before departing Antarctica.
Day 14 Return to Chile
When weather and runway conditions permit, the intercontinental aircraft will arrive at Union Glacier to transport you back to Chile. Staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you back to your hotel.
Due to the potential for weather delays, it is strongly suggested to book your flight home one week after your planned return from Antarctica. If you purchase a full-fare ticket, most airlines will allow you to move your departure date. When it is time for your flight home, you will be provided transportation from your hotel to the Punta Arenas airport.