News & information on Antarctica & the Southern Ocean

Revisiting Terra Incognita, Travels in Antarctica, with Sara Wheeler

Podcast episode 06 - Published 03 August, 2017 by Nicholas O'Flaherty

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This week, in our podcast, we speak to English journalist, broadcaster and travel writer, Sara Wheeler. She’s the author of Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica. First published in 1996, this personal account of her seven months' travelling to diverse parts of Antarctica went on to become an international bestseller. Translated into nine languages including Mandarin, Terra Incognita sold in excess of 100,000 copies around the world. The New York Times called it “gripping, emotional” and “compelling.” 

The origins of the book date back to 1991 when Sara wrote about her travels in Chile, which included a brief trip across the Drake Passage from Punta Arenas to the Chilean Antarctic station on King George Island. With her interest in Antarctica piqued, she applied, and was accepted, by the US National Science Foundation as their first female writer-in-residence in Antarctica. In the seven months she spent there in 1994 and 1995, Sara travelled to the US stations at the South Pole and McMurdo, the New Zealand Scott Base, the Italian Mario Zuccelli Station, as well as the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Station.

Interwoven through her contemporary account, Sara retells many of the famous episodes from the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration, including of course the exploits of Amundsen, Scott, and Shackleton. She revisits the huts on Ross Island where Scott and Shackleton were based. From her prodigious research, she provides new insights into the accomplishments and challenges faced by these great explorers.

In addition to Terra Incognita, Sara Wheeler has written a number of books, including Cherry: a life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard”, a biography of one of the youngest members of Scott’s expedition to Antarctica, which was published in 2001.

Terra Incognita is available on Amazon




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