Astonishing to think, really, that it was only 100 years ago, to the day, that the first human beings reached the South Pole. Man - in the shape of the Wright brothers - had already left the confines of our planet eight years earlier (albeit on first engine-propelled flights of a few seconds), but the sheer hostility of the Antarctican environment meant it remained unconquered until 14th December 1911.

A few weeks too late

We all know the story of Amundsen's victorious arrival, and what must have been the gut-wrenching discovery of a fluttering Norwegian flag a few short weeks later by the doomed Scott expedition - but despite vast technological innovations the conditions are still so harsh in winter that there is no permanent habitation at the South Pole.

Tick the ultimate travel box...

That doesn't mean, however, that the Pole remains completely off limits, and companies are coming up with ever more adventurous ways to explore the entire of Antarctica. It was once a case of taking a long (and frankly not that interesting boat ride from Ushuaia in Argentina, and then only exploring the fringes of the continent, but increasing numbers of people are now getting to see the dramatic nature of the interior, thanks to flights into permanent camps. Even the Pole itself is accessible - although normally on a day-trip basis as part of a fixed departure group. Quite a tick in the Where I've Been box, though…