t the end of the year, when the weather turns colder and icier in Antarctica, you can visit and stay at travel company White Desert’s new camp, Echo. The stylish, modern new eco-camp will feature six heated, cutting-edge bedroom “sky pods”, complete with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows with amazing views of the dramatic landscape.
Futuristic in design, Echo is created especially for clients who’ve travelled the globe in style and understand the privilege of effecting positive change through travel. The camp, which caters for up to 12 people, allows guests to combine an ultra-luxury experience with a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Upon alighting from the plane, guests will be escorted to a private lounge where a martini, shaken with 10,000-year-old ice, will be waiting. An experienced team of chefs, hosts and expert guides allows guests to relax or explore at their leisure.
Each room is made from composite fiberglass, and each of the space-inspired sky pods are designed with retro space-age detailing and luxurious furnishings. Original photos taken from the International Space Station (ISS) by retired astronaut Terry Virts will be featured in each pod. Virts is also a former ISS commander and colonel in the US Air Force. The camp will also offer a central lounge area, dining and heated shower pods.
Guests will have access to all White Desert activities, which include fat biking, skiing, skidooing and 4x4 Arctic Truck driving, as well as expertly guided hiking, ice-climbing and mountaineering. Highlights such as visiting Atka Bay to see the 28,000-strong Emperor Penguin colony or a bucket-list journey to the South Pole are also on offer.
As with all their camps, White Desert has designed Echo to be dismantled without a trace, leaving no more than a transitory impact on Antarctica.
The beautiful Himalayan nation of Bhutan is home to just 750,000 people living in its 38,000 sq km of land. Yet this small nation, known for its pursuit of gross national happiness (GNH), is leading the world in terms of its peace and serenity. Visitors to the world’s first carbon-negative country can now explore its rich culture and heritage in an authentic and sustainable way through trekking.
Following years of extensive restoration, the Trans Bhutan Trail is set to re-open this year. From April 2022, a limited number of permits will be issued to international travellers, inviting them to walk, run or mountain bike one of the world’s most beautiful, culturally rich and least explored trails for the first time in 60 years.
See also: Stay, experience and feast
The 250-mile (402km) Trans Bhutan Trail crosses nine dzongkhags (districts), 28 gewogs (village blocks), two municipalities and one national park.
For hundreds of years, the trail had been the only way for pilgrims, messengers, armies and traders to travel and communicate across the country. However- er, once the construction of roads began across Bhutan in the 1960s, the trail’s stairways and footpaths gradually fell into disrepair. The Bhutan Canada Foundation, in conjunction with the King and the support of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, led efforts to restore the trail.
The restoration strongly echoes the four pillars of GNH: good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of culture, and environmental conservation. This community-based project has created new socio-economic opportunities locally, contributing significantly towards the sustainable livelihoods of communities residing along the trail. More than 900 local workers were deployed during the pandemic to work on the ancient route, re-building 18 major bridges, 10,000 stairs and 250 miles of trail.
And with 400 historic and culturally significant sites identified, the trail plays a major role in preserving culture through connecting generations as a living experiential classroom to share centuries’ worth of knowledge, stories and history. It also protects the country’s delicate ecosystems, encouraging clean water, fresh air and diverse flora and fauna across Bhutan.
Steeped in heritage and uniquely Bhutanese, the Trans Bhutan Trail gives travellers ample opportunity to learn more about Bhutan’s unique GNH approach to development while experiencing an authentic piece of happiness the Bhutanese way.