If rising temperatures, ever-more vicious storms and floods and Leonardo DiCaprio haven’t convinced you that climate change is real, perhaps a trip down south to “the last great wilderness on Earth” will do the job. For the past 13 years, explorer and environmentalist OBE Robert Swan has been hosting the International Antarctica Expedition under the aegis of his company 2041 – the name, a reference to the year that a global moratorium on mining and drilling in the white continent will expire.
“The greatest threat to our planet,” Swan is fond of saying in TED talks, “is the belief that someone else will save it.” 2041 is about inspiring activism, and taking ownership of this pickle we’re all in. The journey begins at Ushuaia in Argentina, aboard the Sea Spirit, which sails down the Beagle Channel and into the choppy waters of the Drake Channel, accompanied by landscapes in vivid colours, majestic albatrosses and masterclasses on the history and geology of Antarctica. Eventually, you’ll circle around Cuverville Island, Neko Harbour, Paradise Harbour and Lemaire Channel, all along the western coast of Antarctica – and witness, first-hand, an ecosystem of ice, water and wildlife not yet out of balance.
Expect statuesque icebergs, whales, gentoo penguins and the starriest night sky you’ll ever see. The 10-day journey is not for the fainthearted, of course; but perhaps the hardest part is being accepted for the ride. There’s a rigorous screening process, in which they’ll want to know your intentions; and the cost of the trip has often prompted crowd-funding bids in the past. If you make it through, you’ll want to do more than Instagram the shit out of the place.