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Right Place, Right Time

Snow Hill Island, Antarctica

Ride a helicopter to the distant colonies at the far edge of the Earth

Thousands of penguins make the journey to Snow Hill Island once a year – and you only have a three-day window to see it.

When it comes to discovering the most remote location on Earth, there’s a hard way – and that’s it. Which is why Antarctica – the world’s largest desert – remains largely unexplored: it’s the ultimate adventure.

Almost completely uninhabited except for a handful of researchers and scientists, there’s nowhere like it on Earth. Nowhere so cold, nowhere so windy, and nowhere so barren. In fact, the only thing that’s evolved to survive the harsh conditions is the emperor penguin – and that’s exactly why you’re here. At this time of year there are some 4,000 breeding pairs, and they take a different route to their set breeding place every time. If you’re ever going to see them, this is your best chance.

If it didn’t seem far enough away already, the first stop on your journey is the End of the World. That’s what Ushuaia, on Argentina’s southernmost point, is known as. From there it takes four days by boat – but the final leg is by far the most exhilarating. The only way in is by helicopter: picturesque, but ear-deafening. The rapid-fire thud of the rotor blade drowns out any other noise as you rise from the deck of the boat and glide over the Weddell Sea.

Crossing the brilliant white of the Antarctic ice and the crystalline-blue of the sea, Ray-Ban Chromance lenses come into their own. Colors are deeper and more exact. And as your landing point comes into focus, each iceberg moves into vision with extra intensity.

‘There’s nowhere like it on Earth. Nowhere so cold, nowhere so windy, and nowhere so barren.’

Huge tabular icebergs announce your arrival to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula – and your final destination of Snow Island. Thanks to the 100mph winds and snowstorms that make it impossible to see, late October to March is the only time a pilot can ensure enough visibility to touch down here. Timing is everything.

With the icy Antarctic wind biting at your face, you finally, finally step onto that perfect, powdery unbroken snow. The polar filter on Ray-Ban Chromance was literally built for this terrain: the glare from the blinding snow can be almost unbearable and this helps to cut it, giving you a clear view of the landscape. Looking up into the pure blue of the sky and the snowy mountains to the east, every view jumps into focus. Nothing is muted. Nothing is dulled.

The penguins are still a 45-minute trek away – a distance arranged to preserve the peace and privacy of the emperor penguin colony. Once you’ve made this final trek over the open ice fields, you get your first sight of an emperor penguin as you reach 66-degree latitude. Since it’s mating season, you’ll soon find hundreds of pairs waddling toward the ocean.

Standing at the very bottom of the Earth, this penguin colony is one of the most unique sights you’ll ever see – in one of the most unique places you’ll ever be.

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Credit: Daisy Gilardini/Getty