'Unprecedented' sabbatical to Antarctica up for grabs from Airbnb

Fancy a trip to Antarctica? Airbnb is offering a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity - but it's not going to be an easy-going holiday.

The travel company teamed up with conservation group Oceans Conservancy for the "unprecedented" Antarctic Sabbatical. 

Five volunteers will travel to Chile, before spending 10 days on the ice and visiting the South Pole. The catch is, they will be working as citizen scientists - helping collecting samples for Antarctic scientist Kirstie Jones-Williams' research.

The pristine continent is being contaminated by microplastics from the rest of the world. Jones-Williams says she wants to find out how much.

"Most people think of Antarctica as a pristine and isolated continent, but recent evidence shows that even the most remote locations are affected by plastic pollution," she said in a statement.

View of an Antarctic mountain through a tent flap.
Five volunteers will spend 10 days on the ice. Photo credit: Airbnb / Supplied

"This expedition will help us understand the pathways of microplastics to remote regions such as Antarctica and comes at a critical time to highlight our responsibility to protect our natural world."

It's not going to be an easy holiday, with fierce freezing conditions and 24-hour sunlight during the Antarctic summer. But Jones-Williams is confident it will be worth it.

"We are looking for passionate individuals, with a sense of global citizenship, who are excited to be a part of the team and to return home and share our findings with the world."

As accessibility to Antarctica grows, there have been questions whether it should be opened to tourism or preserved for science.

Airbnb said it wanted to highlight the problem of microplastics to "encourage a global audience to give great thought to the consequences of how we live and take collective action".

People walking in Antarctica.
It's not going to be an easy-going holiday. Photo credit: Airbnb / Supplied

"While Airbnb is inherently more eco-friendly than other forms of travel given that people are using spaces already built, we need to continue to find ways for the platform to contribute to reducing the impact of humans on the environment," senior vice president of global policy and communications Chris Lehane said in a statement.

On the month-long expedition, the volunteers will spend two weeks in Chile training in glaciology and the equipment they'll be using, before flying to Antarctica for 10 days.

After the sabbatical it's expected they will become ambassadors with Ocean Conservancy.

"Through our annual International Coastal Cleanup, where volunteers not only collect trash from beaches and waterways around the world but also log every item in our global database, Ocean Conservancy has a long history of working with citizen scientists, and we look forward to applying the results of this expedition to global solutions," chief executive Janis Searles Jones said.

Keen travellers can apply for the sabbatical at Airbnb.com/sabbatical, before 4pm on October 8.

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