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AN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION REWARDS THE
TRAVELLER WITH A PRISTINE WILDERNESS
IT'S HARD TO PUT A PRICE ON
As our world gets ever smaller,
quirky, adventurous holidays in
exotic and unexpected locations
seem to be taking over. Luxury is
no longer about having the most
expensive room - it's about an
eye-opening experience, an education and
a journey that creates a lifetime of exciting
memories. And the ultimate in luxury today?
Isolation. People are willing to pay huge sums
to get as far away from it all as possible.
It's not every day, for example, that you
nd yourself being lowered 120 metres into
a vast, dried-out magma chamber inside an
ancient volcano, suspended on a mechanical
window-washing platform of the type used
for cleaning skyscrapers.
Iceland is the only place in the world to
o er intrepid travellers the opportunity
to see what a volcano looks like on the
inside. Dormant Thrihnukagigur last erupted
more than 4,000 years ago, and thankfully,
volcanologists are con dent there is no risk of
it erupting again any time soon.
A funnel-shaped opening is the only way in
and out of the volcano. Attached to a safety
line, I edged along a platform over the crater,
darkness below me, then stepped on to
the window-washing lift for the 10-minute
descent into the cone, occasionally bumping
and scraping against the colourful rock wall.
Entering a massive volcanic vault, we
stopped, hanging in mid-air, to take in the
vastness of the magma chamber, brought
to life by bright oodlights. What were once
arteries carrying lava through the rock are
now thick black lines around the chamber,
and psychedelic swirls of red, pink, orange,
black and green cover the walls.
If dangling inside a volcano doesn't sound
like your thing, on the other side of the world
the remote Brazilian Pantanal beckons those
adventurers with a passion for wildlife.
The Pantanal is a UNESCO World Heritage
Site in the state of Mato Grosso, which is 150
miles south of the Amazon rainforest. It is
considered the largest freshwater wetland
in the world, encompassing approximately
85,000 square miles of vast savannas, forests,
rivers and lagoons. It is also bursting with
exotic animals and is one of the best places
to spot the elusive jaguar.
Travelling under cover of darkness along
the unpaved Transpantaneira Highway on my
way to the Araras Eco Lodge, a self-sustained