One hundred years ago, Robert Falcon Scott set sail bound for Antarctica.  His mission: to claim the South Pole for England.  Unfortunately for Scott, he didn’t know two things at the time: first, that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen had also decided to take a run at the pole and was hot on Scott’s heels.

Second: that his arduous, two year journey would claim his life and that of four of his companions in one of the most horrifically tragic expeditions to ever set foot on the frozen continent.

Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova Hut, 
located at Cape Evans, Antarctica.
Photo © Mari Ogawa 

In 2008, The Other Coast creator and good friend Adrian Raeside was in the beginning stages of writing a book about Scott’s expedition to the South Pole.  Unlike other authors who have covered this subject, Raeside has an ace up his sleeve: his grandfather was Canadian-born Sir Charles Seymour Wright – a key figure in the expedition.  Wright, or Silas, as he was affectionately known, came within a hair’s breadth of accompanying Scott to the pole, and was the first person to locate the frozen remains of the party in October, 1912.

He’d also kept a meticulously-detailed journal, which provided an astonishing glimpse into everyday life both out on the ice, and back at the Terra Nova hut.

Raeside needed a way to see his grandfather’s huts for himself; the book and indeed his journey would seem somewhat incomplete if he was unable to physically stand on the spot where his grandfather had stood some ninety-eight years before.  But how to go about visiting one of the most remote locations on this Earth?

Quark Expeditions’ Kapitan Khlebnikov.
Photo © Mari Ogawa

Enter Quark Expeditions.

Since its inception in 1991, Quark has focused solely on one thing: providing exceptional voyages to some of the harshest, most remote regions in the world.  You won’t find any of their ships tied up at the pier in Cozumel; these are real working ships providing a true expedition voyage to those seeing a trip with a little more adventure.

Indeed, the opportunities for adventure seemingly know no limits aboard Quark.  Kayaking is offered in Antarctica, as well as the ability to go ashore via zodiacs or helicopters – both of which are included in your fare.

For the truly adventurous, nothing can compare to Quark’s overnight experiences.  Offered for a small additional cost, passengers forgo their warm berth for the evening, opting to spend an evening camped out on the polar ice.  It’s the closest you can get to being a modern-day explorer without physically mounting an expedition yourself.

Helicopters allow passengers to access remote
locations ashore.
Photo © Mari Ogawa 

Also remarkable about the frozen continent: the constant cold has preserved Scott’s hut, as well as Shackleton’s Discovery Hut.

During Raeside’s journey in 2008, he was able to visit the same hut where his grandfather Silas had spent the majority of his days on the expedition, right down to the bunk he had slept in.  Indeed, the hut itself is in a remarkable state of preservation, appearing as if the occupants had just stepped out for a moment.  As the author and cartoonist observed, “I don’t think there’s any other place in the world you can go to and have an experience like this.  It’s like stepping back in time.”

The majestic Emperor Penguin in Antarctica.
Photo © Mari Ogawa 

In November 2011, those looking to experience the ‘real’ Antarctica have an opportunity to do so again, on one of the last voyages of Quark’s venerable Russian icebreaker, the Kapitan Khlebnikov.  Built in 1981 and carrying just 108 guests, the Khlebnikov is perfectly suited to harsh Antarctic climates: her double hull is lined with water ballast which can be shifted along the length of the ship to further aid in breaking through stubborn ice.

In 2012, the ship will return to her duties for the Far East Shipping Company (FESCO) as an escort in the Russian Arctic.  

Kapitan Khlebnikov in the Ross Sea ice.
Photo © Mari Ogawa

Departing from Christchurch, New Zealand on November 9, 2011, this unique 29-day voyage celebrates the centennial anniversary of Scott’s journey to the South Pole. Offering calls at Cape Adare – home to Carsten Borchgrevink’s Southern Cross Expedition Hut, as well as a two-day stay in the Ross Sea.  From here, passengers will be able to visit McMurdo Station as well the nearby 1907 Discovery Hut, and if conditions permit, a flight via helicopter into the Dry Valleys will be offered.  The valleys are an anomaly in Antarctica in that there is little to no snow or ice cover; in fact, they are considered to be one of the harshest deserts in the world.

 The rugged – and beautiful – terrain of 
‘The Frozen Continent.’
Photo © Mari Ogawa

Rounding out the Antarctic experience are visits to the Balleny Islands, Macquarie Island, The Snares, The Auckland Islands, and Campbell Island.

Pricing for this absolutely phenomenal experience start at $35,390 per person, and availability is extremely limited.  Guests can contact their travel agent or Quark directly for detailed pricing and availability.

One of the many impressive icebergs that greet
passengers to Antarctica.
Photo © Mari Ogawa 

For more information on Kapitan Khlebnikov, her amazing final season, and the complete range of Arctic and Antarctic itineraries offered on all of Quark’s vessels, be sure to visit their website and start planning your own personal historic journey.

As for Raeside, he returned from his voyage aboard Kapitan Khlebnikov with all the information he needed to make his book, Return to Antarctica, a one-of-a kind.  A documentary is in the works, featuring historic footage shot in 1910 coupled with modern-day HD video shot on his voyage in 2008.  (full disclosure: I am the editor and director of said documentary.  And it’s phenomenal.)


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