The Real Antarctica…

What it’s like to travel Antarctica…

with an Astronaut

There are few destinations more elusive (and exclusive) than Antarctica. As a place, it’s a paradox: harsh yet delicate; rugged yet perfectly formed; virtually uninhabited yet brimming with life. The elysian lakes, immense ridges and ice floats are unearthly, dream-like – there’s nowhere else quite like it on this earth.

Wanderlux’s very own CEO and Founder Rebecca Puttock travelled Antarctica – dubbed as one of the last wild frontiers on the planet – in December 2021. Here, she tells us what that meant to her.

How did the trip come about?

It began all the way back in May 2021. I’d come across Christina Korp on social media (she’s an astronaut wrangler and Buzz Aldrin’s former manager), and we ended up on a two-hour long zoom call dreaming up big ideas.  One of which was the basis of this very trip: to see the total solar eclipse in Antarctica – a phenomenon that isn’t just once in a lifetime – it won’t happen again for over 400 years.

Christina and I are very similar. I felt like I’d met a kindred spirit – we connected immediately. She’s a do-er like me, and a mother too. We immediately got to work with our respective hats on – her bringing in her connections in the space world (including former NASA astronaut Nicole Scott), me using my experience in bespoke travel planning to bring together a team of ground agents, expedition leaders and (rather crucially) a boat. But not just any boat: the icebreaker Explorer Yacht M/Y Legend.

A team effort: Remote working at its finest…

This trip had to depart from Chile, and at the time of planning, Chile was still closed to the world due to Covid-19. Believe it or not, that wasn’t even our biggest hurdle: this was the first trip in two years for the yacht and the crew, and we had all manner of paperwork to deal with – Covid-19 forms, drone permit forms, new passports (forms), IAATO forms… you name it, we had to do it. But Christina has the same attitude as me – failure is simply not an option. So we put in months of work – me from the UK, Christina from the US – and along with Nicole Stott, we enrolled Roie Galitz (wildlife photographer and Greenpeace Ambassador, no less), geology experts and ice divers – we put together a literal ‘trip of a lifetime’.

So we had everything mapped, everything planned out. Now for the guests. There were eight cabins to fill, and after a bit of back and forth we quickly had interest for the whole boat – 22 people in total. That’s when it felt real. Deposits paid, paperwork done and (finally) after a whirlwind of 4 months planning, we eventually headed to Antarctica in December 2021. It was here in Santiago that I finally met Christina in person.

What was it like being there yourself?

Simply incredible. I plan trips for clients all the time, and love hearing about their experiences, but being there in person – and in a bucket-list destination – was something I’ll always cherish.

Describe the trip in three words:

Wild, humbling, vulnerable.




What was the environment like?

It was untouched. Pristine. We were there on the cusp of Antarctica’s summer, when there’s almost 24 hours of sunlight a day. The sun never fully sets, and the rough, wild conditions of winter are just starting to dwindle. The skies were rich, royal blue, the sunsets were roaring red. Ice shelves break away naturally, so it’s a good time to be on the water – boats can navigate their way through the packs far easier than in winter. Saying that, we didn’t see a single other boat during our trip – there were only four other boats in the whole of Antarctica at the time – which made it feel even more ethereal.

“The goal is to awaken the senses – through education, emotion and experience.”

Rebecca Puttock, Wanderlux CEO

Any other moments that made you go ‘wow’?

We were really lucky with wildlife sightings. Whales are in abundance in the waters – plenty of humpbacks and pods of orcas frolicked around the boat; but we saw snow petrels, chinstrap penguins, seals and a solo emperor penguin too. At one point we were kayaking in an idyllic bay and a minke whale swam underneath me. They have distinct white and silver bellies, and the sun glistened off him as he played in the water, belly up. It was surprisingly serene to be there with him. We saw so much from sessions in the kayaks and on SUP boards: penguins popping their heads up and ducking back under our oars; a leopard seal sunbathing on an ice float. Those were really special moments. We also had the opportunity to go out in a submersible, which was a first for most of us. We climbed along the Antarctic shelf 200 metres below sea level and that was truly otherworldly – weird and wonderful creatures live down there.


Do you have any particularly fond memories from the trips?

Seeing my clients smiling, crying, in complete awe. Seeing the raw emotion that the raw Antarctic landscape evokes. They left with Antarctica in their hearts. Creating that kind of evocative travel is what drives me.

And the total solar eclipse?

As you might imagine, Antarctica is very open to the elements, and would you believe it – the weather stopped us from witnessing this once in 400-year phenomenon. Despite having pretty good expedition conditions overall, a category three storm decided to block the eclipse from us with 100% cloud cover. This being said, great thing about putting together a tailor-made expedition is that we were flexible enough to be able to change course, find shelter, and enjoy the array of water toys on board. This included ice diving, SUP paddle boarding and of course, descending in the submersible -200m under.

You can follow Bex’s adventures at @wanderlux.planner and learn more about Nicole’s
incredible work at @spaceforartfoundation or @spacefabworld.
Written by Hannah Dace, Wanderlux Editor

Wanderlux Inspiration