The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

At any given point, you have a choice of two sets of Shet­land Is­lands. One is just above (ish) the Scot­tish main­land. It stages the Up Helly Aa fire fes­ti­val in Jan­uary. The other is the South Shet­land Is­lands, just off (ish) the Antarc­tic Penin­sula. Less fire, more pen­guins. Ex­plore.co.uk’s 13-day “Antarc­tica in Depth” ex­pe­di­tion (sail­ing out of Ushuaia on Nov 11) will get you there. From £5,099pp; flights ex­tra. Antarc­tica is the main course and frozen pud­ding of any trip to the planet’s base, but ap­pe­tis­ers await on the way. One is South Ge­or­gia, the re­mote isle at 54 de­grees south which Shack­le­ton crossed in 1916 at the end of his Trans-Antarc­tic Ex­pe­di­tion. In­trepid Travel (in­trepid­travel.com/uk) will pop by via its “Cross­ing the Antarc­tic Cir­cle” 23-day jaunt, leav­ing Buenos Aires on Feb 18. From £10,830pp; flights ex­tra. Yes, OK – it seems ob­scene to men­tion Christ­mas when we are all still pick­ing pine nee­dles out of the car­pet and the cat. But if the thought of play­ing cha­rades with your in-laws ever again makes you feel mur­der­ous, pon­der the al­ter­na­tive of the 13-day “Christ­mas in Antarc­tica” cruise that Aurora Ex­pe­di­tions will dis­patch from Ushuaia on Dec 17. From US$11,900pp – flights ex­tra (au­ro­ra­ex­pe­di­tions.com.au).

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