‘Antarctic researcher’ is one of those jobs no one actually expects to get. Like astronaut or MI6 agent, we might have fantasised about it as kids – a starry-eyed mentor might even have told us to ‘follow our dreams’ – but no one really thought it would happen.
With their newly-announced ‘Antarctic Sabbatical’ though, Airbnb is offering five lucky volunteers the next best thing – a chance to learn the ropes of polar living, study microfibers in the ice sheet, and, of course, visit the South Pole.
The month-long mission will be led by polar researcher Kirstie Jones-Williams, and aims to explore the pathways taken by plastic pollutants to one of the world’s remotest regions.
"It is going to be hard work, with scientific rigour required during unforgiving wintry conditions," says Jones-Williams. "We’re looking for passionate individuals with a sense of global citizenship, who are excited to be part of the team and share our findings with the world."
Once accepted, the soon-to-be scientists will undergo immersion training in Chile, taking courses in glaciology and learning about the kit they’ll be using, before flying to a natural blue-ice runway deep within Antarctica.
Home will be Union Glacier Camp – an isolated cluster of red tents against a sea of dazzling white – with transport courtesy of fat bikes and snowmobiles.
After powering through the requisite fieldwork – collecting and studying snow samples – excursions are expected to encompass grand glacial formations like the Drake Icefall, and the ice-cliffs of Charles Peak Windscoop. The flagship attraction is, of course, the South Pole, where visitors can (sort of) circumnavigate the globe in the space of a few steps.
The intrepid team will then return to Chile for further sample analysis, before taking on roles as ambassadors for ocean conservation.
Set up in conjunction with ocean advocacy group Ocean Conservancy, successful candidates need enthusiasm far more than they need qualifications.
To apply for the Antarctic Sabbatical, click here.