Expedition Blog

2041 was founded by polar explorer, environmental leader and public speaker Robert Swan, OBE, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. Swan has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica by the promotion of recycling, renewable energy and sustainability to combat the effects of climate change.

International Antarctic Expedition 2016

The International Antarctic Expedition 2016 will be an exhilarating and unpredictable adventure, and a life-changing experience for the international group of men and women joining Robert Swan and the 2041 Team to the last great wilderness on earth. The following itinerary outlines a typical daily program you can expect on a 2041 Expedition, with examples of Antarctic locations and sights we may visit along the way.

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Final day in Antarctica on IAE 2016!

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Our final day in Antarctica but our team was not perturbed, ready to take it in as much as possible we made way towards our favourite landing spot, Neko Harbour. Once again woken by an announcement from Jumper, but this time much earlier than usual, it was still dark outside. He said the view was like an oil painting, a great day in Antarctica, a sunrise not to miss. Slowly but surely almost everyone made it out on deck and it was certainly worth it. The colours where like nothing anyone had seen before, the sky was ablaze with orange and pink light, perfectly reflected in the still waters of the bay, the illusion only broken by the occasional piece of ice floating into view, somehow maintaining it’s blue hues amongst all this red light.

Because we needed time later to subject our team to the daunting polar plunge, we only had the morning to enjoy Neko, the team was again split between zodiac cruising and being on shore. Everyone got the chance to hike up to meditation rock where we handed out postcards for people to write to their future selves, reminding them of what they learnt in Antarctica.

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Before we set sail back into the Drake, it was time for the Polar Plunge, for those crazy enough, they could jump off of the gangways into the freezing Antarctic waters, many did and with such style!

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Once everyone had recovered from the plunge we had a leaving ceremony, thanking Antarctica, the Ship’s captain and crew and of course Robert Swan and the 2041 Foundation, now we head back into the Drake Passage and can reflect on this incredible experience.

“My name is Isabel Grey. I am 11 years old and born in Charleston SC. I have cared about the environment and it’s creatures deeply since I was young. At age 7 I became vegetarian and at 9 I became a vegan all because of my respect towards animals. My polar journey started as I watched Robert Swan give his speech at an outdoor shop called Halfmoon Outfitter. I was so inspired that at the end, I talked to him and developed the idea of going on the expedition. He invited me to go and few days later I was playing violin on King Street. I hope to raise awareness about what we are going wrong and ways that we can help make change. 

What a special day we all had at Neko Harbor. The sunrise was spectacular; you begin to appreciate these moments because the Antarctic weather has a mind of its own. A long walk up to meditation point where team members wrote “postcards from the edge” to themselves that will be mailed to them in six months, which will serve as a great reminder to all the Team to make sure ACTION is happening around them. 

You could here the ice carving around the bay, much like thunder.

Tradition has it that the final day on the continent, means Polar Plunge time. With a great deal of excitement and with the help of Taylor Swift in the background to muster that extra bit of courage, team members one by one jumped off the ship into the icy water. Some people managed to talk to their GoPros, but for most the reactions was total shock. It is not every day that you go for a swim in Antarctica. 

A formal naval thank you, over seen by Jumper was performed on the bow by the whole team, and we all saluted the captain of the Ocean Endeavor. 

We set sail for Ushuaia, with the swell and winds picking up for a rocky night.”

Isabel Grey, 11, USA

A key part of our expeditions is the experiential learning and focussing on bringing people that can share their story and inspire even more people, because of this we love to have teachers come and join IAE, we asked one of the many with this year for their ideas on how their time in Antarctica will shape what they teach in their own classrooms.

“Inspired. Driven. Passionate.

These three words sum up just a fraction of how I am now and how I will be in the near future. In order to be real and to have relevance to those who have not experienced the Antarctic as I have, I will take back this message with passion and be inspiring to others.

I need to engage young people in the ongoing battle to change the balance of sustainability, to help them understand that they are the pivotal generation. The generation that has full understanding of the problem, and the ability to contain it with the technological advances that are coming through. Older generations had neither the knowledge or power, and in future generations the damage will be too great to remedy.

To do this I will speak to schools and colleges in my locality and make it relevant to them, and leave them with a challenge. It is important to have a ‘hook’ for the children to hang on to, and to complete, so that I can come back to look at how they have achieved. 

We must endeavour to make this part of their current language, not a novelty, or a fad that will come and go. It must be developed as part of the lexicon of the next generation and become embedded in their thought processes as a norm in their lives.

Presentations, assemblies and the like will be important but not as crucial as building a structure for schools to follow through with, to make policy and to continue this drive to change the culture of schools, ensuring that the whole sustainability subject is built into the curriculum and becomes part of everyday life.” - Tobin

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The day ended with Robert revealing his plans for the future of the 2041 Foundation with the South Pole Energy Challenge, things are gearing up!

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Antarctica Day 5 - Penguins on Petermann Island

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Another incredible sunset. Golden light flickered over icebergs on the horizon as if lit by candle. Everyone wass out to watch, leaving little time for breakfast. Some had to eat faster than others, the call for the zodiacs had been made. Half of our team headed out to Petermann Island, a low lying island surrounded by impossibly blue icebergs and home to a historic Argentine refuge hut, but it seemed like the weather was closing in again, time we had to move quickly and hope for the best.

The other half of the team got into their zodiacs to cruise around the bay, a lot whales had been spotted headed towards us, it was fortuitous timing!

“1…2…3...4...5...6! 6 ballenas Humpback juntas! Todo el equipo estábamos muy emocionados, pero fue hasta que vimos que Tara, nuestra guía por el día, estaba sorprendida que supimos que estábamos siendo testigos de algo realmente especial.

La familia de 6 nos dejó seguirlas, y en 10 minutos pudimos ver 3 rondas de "hundimientos"...18 colas en total.

En esta expedición hemos visto ballenas ballenas Humpback, Minke, Fin e incluso Orcas, pero cada vez que vemos una nueva todos nos seguimos impresionando con la belleza de estos imponentes animales. Cuando pensamos que las ballenas son solo una pequeña parte de los increíbles días que hemos tenido aquí volvemos a apreciar el enorme privilegio que tenemos de estar pasando estas semanas en la Antarctica

No puedo esperar por saber qué sorpresas nos tiene preparadas Antarctica para mañana”

“1…2…3…4...5...6! 6 Humpback whales together! All of my team was really excited, but it wasn't until we saw how surprised Tara (our guide for the day) was that we realised that we were witnessing something really special.

The “family” of 6 allowed us to follow them for a while, and in only 10 minutes we were able to see 3 rounds of diving…18 tails in total!

In this expedition we have seen Humpback, Minke, Fin and even Orca whales, but every time we see a new one we still get impressed by the beauty of these incredible animals. When we realise that whales are only a small part of the amazing days we've had so far we appreciate again the immense privilege that is spending a couple of weeks in Antarctica.

I cant wait to see what surprises Antarctica has in store for tomorrow.”

Eitan Rovero-Shein,

Mexico City, 25

On Petermann we had another chance to get up close and personal with penguins, today they seemed to be even more inquisitive about us humans, if we stood still, they would come up close and check us out but mostly to use us as a shelter from the wind.

It had been a day to encompass all of our senses;

We see the morning light,
through the darkened snow clouds
doing its best to fight
hitting icebergs floating in crowds.

Painting our snow-based view
as penguins chatter in their paces,

with another golden hue,
As the icy wind hits our faces.

Every day we say ‘this feels more Antarctic than the day before’, but what we’re learning is that Antarctic is diverse, not a white wasteland to exploit, but a homely land to many creatures that just aren’t us.

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Our second excursion of the day was really very special, we travelled back through the Lemaire Channel, but this time in the zodiacs, having been in awe of it just a day before from our ship, being inside this channel and seeing it all with the ship also in our view really gave us a better sense of perspective, the scale of it all was nearly daunting, realising how tall the mountains really are, and how tall the glacier faces are. We travelled through passing icebergs and amazing formations on glaciers, getting closer than we ever had before.

We closed the day with a talk from team member Edward who outlined a his work at NASA Ames, CA and set sail for our last stop on the Antarctic Peninsula, Neko Harbour, our favourite place to visit on IAE which we hope will be an amazing conclusion for everyone.

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Antarctica Day 4 - The Snow Storm

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0630. Lemaire Channel. Antarctica

Another wake up call from Jumper, we had to get up to see the most amazing view to wake up to, a favourite place in Antarctica for many, the Lemaire Channel. It is a created by Booth Island’s peaks and Humphries Heights mountain range making a corridor, this small body of water is like a trough with the mountains rising suddenly out of the ocean on either side, sometimes at near vertical in angle and up to a kilometre in height, the 5 mile long channel is sheltered and plays haven to minke whales, humpbacks and penguins. A truly dramatic view that encompasses many of Antarctica’s features, starkly beautiful landscapes, wildlife and, of course ice.

After passing through for sunrise, the snowstorm only got heavier and soon our view of Pleneau disappeared into a cloud of greys. This weather meant another change of plans, with conditions too harsh for zodiacs to be deployed the team welcomed the time to rest before venturing out into the cold once more.

With announcements made over the tannoy, it was time for action, we weren’t going to let the weather get in the way, we would land at Charcot Point and cruise around the icebergs, facing the conditions head on and challenge ourselves. The experience was amazing, being pelted in the face by snow and ice did not perturb our amazing international group, to think that some have travelled for the first time from home, left the desert or not even seen snow before, now to really be in the thick of it was really something special and of course when they reached the top off the hike, it was only natural for everyone to enjoy the snow as much as possible and they had earned it!

The zodiac cruise was also a challenge, whilst witnessing natural beauty up close, sitting still on the water is a different kind of cold. We could get much closer than usual to the icebergs because they are all grounded, the bay is a shallower shelf to about 100m in depth where drifting icebergs get trapped. Knowing they are still, we can get closer because the chance of them suddenly rolling and either crushing anything near it or causing a sudden wave that could easily flip a zodiac is far lower. In a way the weather was fortunate, the new snowfall clung to the icebergs and it’s pure white tones only accentuated their stunning form and hues.

With everyone defrosting on the ship after a thorough exposure to Antarctica’s cold-hearted ways, one of our own team members, Ben Towill delivered a presentation on food, and the sustainability issues involved in its current mass production. This predominantly focussed on waste of food itself and wastefulness in its production; reminding us of our current ship-based life and the finite resources available to us here in the Antarctic, a lesson we can all take home to our daily lives when we return to the ‘real’ world.

“I almost didn’t wake up this morning. My pillow was soft, blanket was warm, and I was having a lovely dream about skipping through a field of wildflowers. By some miracle managed to ignore six of Jumper’s announcements, which were getting progressively louder and more aggressive, until finally he nearly screamed, “THIS IS THE MOST BRILLIANT VIEW YOU’LL GET IN ANTARCTICA. IF YOU’RE INSIDE, YOU’RE ON THE WRONG SIDE.”
I pulled on my fleece pants and ran out on the bow, brushing snow out of my half-closed eyes. The view that greeted me made me stop in my tracks. The ship floated through a narrow channel, shrouded in mist, with mountains of ice and rock looming on all sides. The water was like glass, interrupted only by ripples from the icebergs and snowflakes. I felt that I was on a different planet—that during my sleep the ship had sailed through a wardrobe and entered Narnia. As though on cue, a group of five humpback whales appeared, not twenty meters from our port side. And that was only the first half hour.

We got the morning off, save for the 90 minutes we got to come up with a pitch to change the world. After lunch it was back to business. Robert made an appearance in the mud room to facilitate our timely departure in the zodiacs. I exited the ship into the same mystical land I saw in the morning. Icebergs in the ocean were barely distinguishable from the snow on the mountains, which was barely distinguishable from the grey sky. We got two hours to frolic on the mountain with hundreds of penguins (maintaining the required five meter distance at all times) and observe a few fur seals sparring. A few teams decided to take the example of the seals and began a snowball fight that turned into an hour-long affair with extensive ambushing and tackling. The same group that was a few hours earlier presenting a three-pronged approach to improve water conditions in rural India was now chanting war cries and sprinting up the mountain.

Needless to say we were all breathless and full of joy when it came time to board the zodiacs again. This time we got to cruise through the Iceberg Graveyard—an area where icebergs run aground and are thus uncharacteristically stationary. This allows for the most stunning shapes, as wind and water form caves and magnificent icicles. Staring at the layers of blue, white, and grey I wondered how many years it took to smooth the ragged glacial edges, and how many years would pass before it would melt completely. It’s up to us, isn’t it?”

Sasha Landauer, USA, 19


Todays expedition let me feel the natural strength from the Antarctic. Purest snow and blue wave put ourselves into the mysterious ocean; amazing iceberg and Lemaire channel let me find the creativity power of nature; penguins and whales remind me to protect the most beautiful lives in the blue planet. Teamwork of hiking today gave me unity and warmth definitely; the brainstorming of leadership connected wisdom with cooperation; the presentation and speech inspired me to think about how to make a difference. When a baby penguin came to me straightly, at the most excited moment, I wanted to thank 2041 Expedition for encouraging all of us keep going, sincerely.”

Haizhou Wang, China, 24 

With our ship anchored in Pleneau, our ship's crew pointed spotlights at the nearest icebergs, just to make sure they didn't drift towards us. This lead to a usually panic-inducing view but for us, knowing everything was under control it was just spectacular. 


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Expedition Video Update : Extreme Orca Excitement!

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Antarctic Day 3 - Classrooms In The Cold

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Today was a day of exploring our icy classroom, with clear skies giving us a beautiful sunrise we arrived at Portal point; gateway to the polar plateau. An old route used by explorers and scientists for many years, would now play host to our team members learning some outdoor skills and getting to explore group exercises with our leadership speakers, Nigel and Matthias. All focussing on taking in this experience as much as possible, one of these sessions was simply to sit and stare at the amazing view we had of the Antarctic. Our first blazingly sunny day with visibility for miles, light danced off the water and made the icebergs glisten as they slowly drifted past. 

This silent scene only being disturbed by the melodic puffs of whale blows slowly gliding between the bergs.

Marina Orlovic, Croatia / USA
"Danas je bio suncan dan u Antartiku. Ne mogu vjerovati da vrijeme ovdje moze biti tako lijepo. Hodali smo po kontinentu i kasnije smo isli gledati kitove. Osjecam se da sam na nekom drugom planetu, daleko od civilizacije i svega sto je poznato. Ovo mjesto je neopisivo i stalno dava, hrani mi oci a pogotovo dusu. Predivno mjesto!"
"Today was a sunny day in Antarctica. I can’t believe the weather here can be so beautiful. We walked on the continent and later we went to watch whales. I feel like I’m on another planet, far away from civilisation and everything that is familiar. This place is indescribable and it is always giving, feeding my eyes and especially my soul. Gorgeous place!"

After our sessions on the ice we headed out in zodiacs to join the picturesque scene before us, we got to see the icebergs up close and their mystical blue glow enchanted us all. The bay was filled with sunbathing Crabeater Seals and Gentoo Penguins porpoising through the mirror-like water. Our luck wasn’t so strong however...the clouds started to cover the sun and the wind picked up. Luckily at the end of our time out on the water, once again reminded of natures unpredictability we started to make our way back to the ship.

We moved through the Gerlache Straight towards Dollman Bay, where we hoped to find some Humpback whales, as we passed through the straight murmurs spread around the ship of Orcas on the horizon, moving up to the bridge we could see a row of crew leaning against the counters, binoculers in hand, all hoping to spot the whales. With so many eyes on the mission it wasn't long until we knew where to put the boat to not disturb them and to get thebest few. The bow of the ship opened up and our team flooded down, changing from side to side of the ship as sightings were made.

It seemed we had caught the pod's attention, having passed some of the Orca they caught us back up. They swam under the bow of the ship in full few of our team members turned audience as the whales pirouetted together under the waves infront of our eyes


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A key part of the session where we focussed on absorbing  being in Antarctica, involved not having cameras as we stared out at the view. We wanted to focus on really seeing and feeling a place, not looking at everything through a camera lens, our brilliant team member Jean Li took the opportunity to sketch her view and add it to her collection of drawings from throughout the trip, an amazing talent and beautiful way of capturing her time here in the Antarctic.

"Sketching has always been a way for me to relieve stress and become absorbed in something entirely independent from others. The day my flight left for Ushuaia from JFK airport in New York, I did not expect to find myself in sub-freezing temperatures with a sketchbook in hand on the least travelled continent on earth. But there I was in the airport buying myself a new notebook to take on my travels with me. Fast forward a couple of days, I’ve been drawing constantly ever since we landed on Deception Island, busying myself with outlines of Antarctic wildlife, landscapes, and ice formations. Anyone who thinks this sounds lovely is quite right, but I’ve wondered if using my raw hands to draw something is really worth the crazy amount of moisturising I must do afterwards. But in a place like Antartica where everyone is trying to capture their memories somehow, my notebook has become an extremely personal place for me not only record what I see, but share with others an experience we will never forget in a highly original way." 

Jean Li, USA, 17

Tomorrow we head to Pleneau and Port Charcot to explore the Iceberg Alleyway. As we make our way there a snowstorm has hit us and visibility has gone from seemingly infinite to just a few hundred meters if that, we’re grateful to be on such a substantial ship that can look after us and keep us sheltered during these more unfriendly conditions!

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