Logistic knowledge plus tourism equals Ultima Antarctic Expeditions | Polarjournal

This article is published as part of a partnership between Polar Journal AG and Ultima Antarctic Expeditions

Experiencing the vastness of the Antarctic continent is mind-blowing and can be a life changer, especially when traveling beyond the normal touristic paths. (Image: Ultima Antarctic Expeditions)

Visits to Antarctica are thriving and it seems as if a new vessel or a new company arrives in the Argentinian port of Ushuaia every day. And while some people are very much ok with this, others look for a more original way of traveling and exploring. Luckily for them, Ushuaia is not the only gateway to Antarctica and a cruise vessel not the only way of reaching the white continent.

Cape Town in South Africa might not be in people’s minds when thinking about a gateway into the land of ice and snow. But the country’s second-largest city is perfectly situated as a starting point and Ultima Antarctic Expeditions an excellent place to begin planning the expedition of a lifetime. It was formerly known as TAC (The Antarctic Company) and worked closely with Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI), now operating as Ultima Antarctic Logistics, which has been in the Antarctic logistics and transport business since 2001.

Since 2009, TAC operated flights to the Antarctic Novo (short for Novolazarevskaya) airfield, one of the major hubs on this side of Antarctica as it is close to several Antarctic stations and the famous Schirmacher Oasis and features a blue ice runway. Countless flights to supply stations with materials and personnel were combined with approximately 30 expeditions into some of the most remote areas or to the South Pole, a number second to none operating from Cape Town. As many TAC and ALCI staff are now part of Ultima Antarctica Expeditions and Ultima Antarctic Logistics, the companies have some of the most experienced and Antarctica-hardened team members available.

The working horse of Ultima Antarctic Expeditions is an Ilyushin-76 airplane, one of the largest transport airplanes in the world. The plane has been modernized to meet all necessary environmental standards and Ultima uses it to transport material, station personnel and now also tourists into Antarctica. (Image: Ultima Antarctic Expeditions)

At the heart of Ultima’s operation lies a modernized Ilyushin-76TD-90VD, one of the most versatile aircraft in the world. Originally designed for transportation and used to provide the logistics for the Novolazarevskaya Station in Antarctica, the jet was modernized to meet all necessary safety and environmental standards to operate in Antarctica. Its 16 wheels can be automatically pressurized while in the air to meet and landing site condition. Despite its massive size of approximately 50 meters wingspan and more than 45 meters length, this huge plane only needs approximately 1,600 meters for lift-off and around 930 meters for landing. As it can hold a volume of approximately 40 – 60 tons of equipment and personnel, this plane is perfectly suited for logistic purposes as well as transporting people to Antarctica.

Riaan Aucamp, CEO of Ultima Antarctic Expeditions, states: “We want to give people a unique experience unlike any other on the market. It’s not about luxury but about exploration. That’s why people came here in the first place: to explore and discover. And that is what we want to pass on to our guests.” Thus, the company offers tailor-made expeditions to those who dare venturing into the vastness and explore the remote and almost untouched peaks and regions of Queen Maud Land. Mountaineers like Christoph Hoebenreich have made use of the opportunity, in partnership with Ultima Antarctic Expeditions – while exploring New Swabia, for example.

But one doesn’t have to be a Polar guide or mountaineer to travel with Ultima. Currently, the company also offers also three- or eight-day expeditions that take guests into the wild Antarctic landscape, to an emperor penguin colony (in November) and/or even to the South Pole by plane. Catering and overnight stays are in camps, either at their base camp in the Schirmacher Oasis or in tents right in the heart of Antarctica when traveling to and from the pole.

And for those visitors to South Africa enjoying the country’s beautiful landscape, Ultima has a unique offer: the Ultima Day in Antarctica. Using the possibility to travel on one of the supply flights to Novo airfield which usually take around 5.5 hours, guests can then experience a variety of activities to spend their time in Antarctica and then travel back again with the outbound flight, all within 24 hours.

All voyages operated by Ultima are bound to the rules and regulations of IAATO and the Antarctic Treaty system as all team members share the same fascination and love for the white continent. Riaan Aucamp concludes: “Ultima represents access to the ultimate destination. That’s what we want to pass on to all of our guests: a quality Antarctic experience.”

For more information on Ultima Antarctic Expeditions, please use this link to their website: Ultima Antarctic Expeditions

This article is published as part of a partnership between Polar Journal AG and Ultima Antarctic Expeditions

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