Kochi: Guess what, the new travel destination of Keralites looking to chill abroad is the less explored terrains of Antarctica.
One of recent fads among the middle and affluent sections of the state is to opt for adventure trips to difficult terrains instead of common tourist destinations like Europe, Bali or our own Ladakh.
Trying to capitalise on this trend, guided tour companies have started tour packages to Antarctica and the South American countries from Kochi. What more, the tickets are also selling like hot cakes.
“This time around we’ve started tour package to Antarctica, the coldest place in the world. This is after we noticed a rise in Keralites travelling abroad for tours and anticipated the demand. Earlier, people had to go to metro cities like Bengaluru to avail such tour packages. And we are receiving good response to the first such tour package from here,” said Paulose K. Mathew of ‘Coraz Travel and Trade Links Pvt Ltd’, who claims the trip as the first organised group tour from Kochi to the southern-most continent.
The 19-day ‘dream tour’ package costs the beneficiaries anywhere from Rs 3.5 to Rs 6 lakh based on the facilities selected. The journey would start from Kochi on January 31 when the group would fly to Buenos Aires in Argentina via Dubai.
“Then starts the 16-day expedition to Antarctica as they will travel in the luxury cruise ship ‘Celebrity X Cruises’ of US-based company ‘Royal Caribbean’. The tourists can opt for different classes like ‘Ocean view’ or ‘Balcony ocean’ rooms,” says Mathew.
And the preparations have started almost a year back. “So far only the ‘Royal Caribbean’ conducted voyages, twice every year, to the southernmost icy terrain during the months of January and February when the vessels could break floating ice. So we’ve tied up with them and booked 93 seats a year before. The slots in the cruise liner, which can carry 2.852 passengers, has booked to full long back,” he added.
“It was a dream to travel to the extreme end of the world and click the pictures of the famed polar bears. Though I’ve travelled to over 60 countries, I’m relay thrilled to have got a chance to go to Antartica,” said Amarnath V., a Kochi-based Industrialist, who was among the first ones to book avail the package.