See Antarctica's Adelie penguins on a 12-hour trip by private jet from Cape Town
See Antarctica's Adelie penguins on a 12-hour trip by private jet from Cape Town
Image: iStock

If you have Antarctica on your bucket list but not a lot of time for a long sea voyage, take note: UK-based tour operators are offering a one-day trip there - departing from Cape Town aboard a private jet.

However pressed for time you may be though, you can't be strapped for cash. The experience is priced from ₤7,750 (about R132,000).

Natural World Safaris says participants will spend just 12 hours on the icy continent.

After the 5.5-hour flight from Cape Town, they'll check in at their private lodge and then choose from a range of outdoor activities - go on a trek, explore ice grottos, check out the Adelie penguins or just relax at the lodge (it does have its own sauna).

After those adventures, there's a champagne lunch at the lodge, cooked by a "premium chef".

And then, presumably after a selfie or two, it's back on the plane. Bucket-list item checked.

There are several other ways to reach Antarctica but most involve quite a bit more effort. The most traditional is to cross Drake Passage from Ushuaia in southern Argentina.

There have been research ships heading there from both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth but there currently are no regular Antarctic cruises that leave from South Africa.

Another UK-based tour company called White Desert also offers a day trip, which it calls "The Greatest Day".

This one flies on an Ilyushin IL-76 TD, a plane used mainly by the scientific community, and lands at the specially prepared ice runway of "Novo".

The only available date is November 28 this year and the cost of a seat is ₤10,000.

Weather permitting, the aim of this trip is to spend eight hours on the ground, during which visitors can "partake in a host of activities that can be as gentle or adrenaline-fuelled as you wish".

The company's other two Antarctic itineraries last for eight days and offer a range of activities including treks to research bases, visits to penguin colonies, climbing and abseiling, and even a flight to the South Pole.

Antarctica is regarded as the last pristine environment on Earth but it is also under threat. Scientists say factors such as climate change and invasive species are destabilising the polar environment in the region.

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Of course there is concern that growing tourism will add to its woes.

Greenpeace has called it a "bitter irony" that tourism firms were planning to send planes over Antarctica, which would add to the carbon problem that's causing climate change in the first place".

"These are some of the most spectacular corners of our planet and will keep awakening a sense of wonder and adventure in many of us. If we want to preserve them intact for future generations, mass tourism propelled by fossil fuels is just not an option," a spokesperson told The Telegraph.

Natural World Safaris said the trips, with departure dates in December and January, were for time-pushed travellers who wanted to learn more about the fragile polar environment.

Each trip would be carbon neutral and adhere to a strict "zero-impact policy".

The company also said it would give guests the opportunity to fly to Antarctica on a pre-existing flight, with scientists, rather than taking a private jet.

This article was originally published by the Sunday Times.You can view the original article here.

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