The Antarctic adventure company’s mission to deliver the most comfortable beds on the continent

Travel

Skypods: White Desert aims to deliver the most luxurious beds on the continent with its new Echo. Photo / delivered, White Desert

A South African adventure company hopes its inspiration from a “galaxy far, far away” will encourage tourists to visit the world’s most remote continent.

Echo Base is the latest venture from luxury tour operator White Desert.

This summer, in the middle of Antarctica, they’re planting space-aged capsules that look like they landed from a sci-fi movie.

White Desert founder Patrick Woodhead says the parallels between Antarctica and space travel are undeniable.

The “Sky Pods” have already started polar tours to two other temporary bases on the continent, outside of igloo huts and tented camps, and will be something else.

Millennium Falcon Inspired: Are the Sky Pods the Most Comfortable Beds in Antarctica?  Photo / White Desert, included
Millennium Falcon Inspired: Are the Sky Pods the Most Comfortable Beds in Antarctica? Photo / White Desert, included

When remodeling the Antarctic shelter, polar explorer Woodhead says they oriented themselves to the fantasy adventure films of their childhood.

Each of the six spherical capsules features floor-to-ceiling windows set around queen-size beds.

He said the pods are “as if the Millennium Falcon … hit a boutique retreat.”

When they arrive on the Ice Sheet Glacier in December, they may be the continent’s most comfortable beds.

The pods provide a luxurious base for adventurers exploring the Nunatak Mountains of East Antarctica.

Echo Camp is White Desert's newest luxury base in East Antarctica.  Photo / delivered, White Desert
Echo Camp is White Desert’s newest luxury base in East Antarctica. Photo / delivered, White Desert

Millennium Falcon Inspired: Are the Sky Pods the Most Comfortable Beds in Antarctica?  Photo / White Desert, included
Millennium Falcon Inspired: Are the Sky Pods the Most Comfortable Beds in Antarctica? Photo / White Desert, included

As a self-confessed Star Wars geek, Woodhead couldn’t help but draw parallels between ’70s sci-fi and the frozen continent. For one of their guests, however, the comparison was even more obvious: astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

“He spoke of the beauty of our mountains and how there were even resemblances to the terrain of the moon,” Woodhead said of the 1969 lunar mission veteran.

Antarctica: 5 hours from South Africa on a chartered jet.  Photo / delivered, White Desert
Antarctica: 5 hours from South Africa on a chartered jet. Photo / delivered, White Desert

“We found that one of our camps in Antarctica is so remote that its closest neighbor was the International Space Station, orbiting over 400 km above us!”

Luxury Igloos: White Desert's first polar camp, Whichway Oasis.  Photo / Kelvin Trautman, White Desert
Luxury Igloos: White Desert’s first polar camp, Whichway Oasis. Photo / Kelvin Trautman, White Desert

In accordance with Antarctic regulations, the pods are designed to be easily removed without leaving a trace when it’s time to return to the mother ship.

With only 12 places for paying guests, places on tours from Cape Town are extremely exclusive. From December only ten departures are planned.

Arriving by private jet at the blue ice runway costs up to $168,000 per guest for a week-long tour, including a day trip to the Geographic South Pole.

For adventurers a little tighter on budget and time, White Desert offers day trips to their other Antarctic camp at Wolf’s Fang. For $23,500 per person, visitors have the option to pack a 24-hour adventure, including a trip to the nearby nunataks and a champagne picnic in the snow.

Enjoy ice climbing and 24-hour daylight activities.  Photo / Kelvin Trautman, White Desert
Enjoy ice climbing and 24-hour daylight activities. Photo / Kelvin Trautman, White Desert

Champagne on Ice: A Picnic at Whichway Camp in Antarctica.  Photo / White Desert, included
Champagne on Ice: A Picnic at Whichway Camp in Antarctica. Photo / White Desert, included

It’s light years away from the hardships of the first explorers who discovered the continent.

I’m going on a champagne picnic… I might at some point.