The expedition led by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes to cross Antarctica in winter will be a new record for humankind, deputy transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga has said.
“This ‘coldest journey on earth’ is humankind’s first ever attempt in history at crossing ... Antarctica in winter,” she said in a statement.
Chikunga was present at the start of the journey to Antarctica today when former polar research vessel SA Agulhas left Cape Town, carrying Fiennes and his crew to the ice-covered continent.
SA Maritime Safety Authority CEO Tsietsi Mokhele said his organisation was proud to be part of a “historical journey”.
“The research conducted [in the expedition] would benefit the entire world. This is history in the making.”
The SA Agulhas is expected to reach Antarctica in four weeks, and will help Fiennes and his team off-load equipment and set up base, before heading back to Cape Town.
Fiennes’ expedition will move from base camp Novo in March to the geograhic south pole and to another camp in September.
The crew would have to travel nearly 4 000 kilometres during the expedition. The SA Agulhus would return in 2014 to collect the team.
Fiennes has described the expedition as a trip into the unknown with no chance of rescue.