1. Discover the White Continent for Yourself
Exactly 100 years ago, British polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton set out to become the first man to cross Antarctica from coast to coast. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. The ambitious expedition quickly turned into a heroic story of survival for Shackleton and his 28 men, who ended up having to navigate the world’s most treacherous waters in small wooden lifeboats (amazingly, they all made it!). Today, the lure of the 7th continent is just as strong, but much safer. Quark Expedition’s impressive 200-passenger vessels, such as the Ocean Endeavour (a real icebreaker complete with spa and sauna facilities, a gym, yoga center and heated salt-water pool) have been escorting modern-day polar explorers (all ages and fitness levels) across the infamous Drake Passage to the largest wilderness in the world. Getting there is only half the fun. Once on land, you have the incredibly unique opportunity to snowshoe, cross-country ski, kayak, camp, mountaineer, and, as of this season, stand-up paddleboard in the coldest, most remote and isolated place on the planet. Warning: You may want to pocket a penguin—they’re so damn cute.
(11 or 12-day all-inclusive packages start at $5,995; international flights and activities not covered)
Essential Gear: Quark Expeditions makes packing easy, providing all passengers with a yours-to-keep parka, plus borrowed boots and other necessary equipment for all excursions. Good thing, too, because there’s a 20-kilo limit on your luggage to get on that private charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia for embarkation. Make weight with the Travex Expedition Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel ($199) from Eddie Bauer. The lightweight, large duffel made with a tough-as-nails nylon fabric is the perfect size to carry all your adventure-of-a-lifetime needs.
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