‘Carte Blanche’ presenter Masa shares her extraordinary experience in Antarctica.


‘Carte Blanche’ presenter Masa shares her extraordinary experience in Antarctica.

‘Carte Blanche’ presenter Masa Kekana shared the finer details of her experience shooting in and visiting Antarctica in December 2023.



Carte Blanche presenter Masa Kekana spilled all the tea on her trip to Antarctica in December 2023, along with her colleague Lourensa Eckard in an exclusive interview with The South African during a set visit at Stark Studios, Randburg, Gauteng.

Masa explained that she got to tag along with five matriculants on a trip from Cape Town to Antarctica. Matriculants in Antarctica was founded by pioneering explorer, Riaan Manser. The once-in-a-lifetime experience allows young science enthusiasts to travel to the coldest place on Earth to learn more about sustainability, conservation and the impact of climate change.


She revealed that it was only a five-hour flight from Cape Town.


How are the matric students selected?

So they, I mean hundreds of them (matriculants) apply every year and the best amongst the best, are selected. Of all of those, the best of the best five are selected and they get to tag along and cover this program.

And so the year before I was actually on standby (to go) because Derek (Watts) went the year before. I was on standby for him in case he got sick like COVID or whatever, then I would have got to go. I was so scared of going because I was scared of the cold then. But when he came back, he told me how amazing it was and I just thought, oh, I can’t wait to also go.

How did you get to go with the matriculants?

So you travel with their camera crew and we with Rudi Both, our head of television, my colleague Lorenza was also with us, but we did two different stories even though we were there together, which is great because we got to experience it together, which is a lot, you know, like I said, a once in a lifetime opportunity, we were there in total for about three days only.

And that’s because of the weather. The weather was gonna be so bad to come up back, we would have ended up spending Christmas there. Which sounds great having white Christmas, but you know, we do want to be with our families as well.


So, you mentioned there isn’t an actual airport. Where does the plane land?


Nobody owns Antarctica. So there is no government, there are no like, you know, indigenous inhabitants or anything like that. But there are tourist packages. What we got was an opportunity to go to the base camps where the researchers conduct their work.

So they temporarily lived there for a few months at a time. Researchers from all over the world – South Africa, Canada,  America, all over Europe. And at the base camp we have our accommodation and that’s where the plane actually landed.

Like a it’s a special aircraft for those cold conditions because there are specific times and specific number of times, in a specific way that the plane needs to be constructed for to stand cold conditions but also to land.

It belongs to the group of people who do the research as well, like it’s very carefully constructed that it can withstand that kind of condition.


What made Antarctica so unique?

You know, it is said that after they have about 200 000 tourists annually. Off the 200 000, 95% travel by boat and we were part of the 5% that fly there.

It was great because it was the summer, the sun doesn’t set at all. So two o’clock in the morning looks exactly the same as two pm during the day. Going to bed is very, very difficult because it is not that bright.

And also we got to hike through some of the mountains that go through glaciers. So we hiked here for some Glacis as well.

What was a normal day in Antarctica like for you?

You know, there were very long days because there was so much to see, you know, there was a day when we did the hiking and went through the glaciers. There was a day we went to a colony of penguins that had just been discovered.

Emperor Penguins that we just discovered. There’s about, it’s just over 6000 in a specific space in Antarctica. Now, they have not had human interaction. They were discovered via technology and like drones and all kinds of things.

And then they found that they were there and then a group of researchers, a very, a handful of them went in January to actually go and see that they’re there. So when we went, we were the second group of people that they in their lives.

How did the penguins react?

They clearly had no interaction with humans. So they didn’t know the harm that a human could bring. They were completely fine around us, they went about their business. Some came very, very close. I think those were the inquisitive ones.


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