Tourism at the South Pole

It might be hard to believe, but the South Pole is actually a rather popular tourist destination. I know most of us might consider a trip to NYC or the grand canyon before shelling out $60,000 for a few hours at the bottom of the world, but I suppose if you have the cash lying around, you might as well. We got the first of this years tourists in yesterday morning, as seen in the video above, and we’re expecting many many more before the end of the summer season.

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When I was here in 2011, it was the Centennial anniversary of Amundsen’s discovery of the South Pole so we had some pretty high-brow visitors like the Prime Minister of Norway. (above) I got to grill his bison steak to perfection and wear a ridiculous paper toke. I was also pretty stoked to let him know I was from Decorah, Iowa (aka the Norwegian-American capital of the US.)

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We had a ton of folks fly in and take tours of the station, which I’ve volunteered for this season. I can’t wait to tell them all about the super top secret government experiments/tests that take place down here, and then have them take a vow of silence on the ceremonial South Pole.

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Above is a picture of the NGO camp and the visitor’s center we set up during the centennial. We’re not allowed to provide tourists any sort of support (except in emergencies) so they have to basically keep their distance from the station unless invited in for a tour. As a volunteer tour guide we’re instructed to radio the station manager if we get a “runner” aka someone who wanders away from the group to snoop.

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Other than planes, tourists tend to show up through all sorts of modes of transportation. I was in the galley one day and lo and behold this orange tonka truck looking vehicle rolls up to the pole and two goons get out and start snapping selfies. It was surreal. We also had people walk/ski/kite-board all the way to the South Pole. There are rumors this year of a Dutch actress driving a tractor and even a bicycle group pedaling their way towards us.

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And then there was that time we got flash mobbed by zombies. Crazy. So if you’re feeling adventurous, and have several thousands dollars lying around, come down and visit me! I’ll give you a bomb tour of the station and will even help you take your hero shot (naked Ceremonial South Pole Picture) when/if you do.

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