South Africa's SANAE-IV base is located on the top of the Vesleskarvet (Norwegian for "little barren mountain") nunatak in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. This outcrop of rock is about 200km from the edge of the ice shelf.
South Africa has had a permanent presence in Antarctica since 1959 when it took over the Norwegian base. This became SANAE-I. It was followed by SANAE-II and SANAE-III, all of which were constructed on the ice shelf. The latter was decommisioned during the summer of 1994, at which time it was buried deep beneath the snow.
The vista from the SANAE-IV base consists of snow and ice stretching to the distant horizon, regularly penetrated by mountain peaks. The base itself consists of three linked blocks, each of which has two levels. The length of the base is 176m. The entire base stands on stilts 4m above the rocky surface.
The over-wintering team at the base is usually comprised of the following:
These intrepid folk spend the entire year at the base. Every summer a horde of additional people converge on the base for the take over (new team replacing the old).
- medical doctor,
- electrical engineer,
- electronic engineer,
- mechanical engineer,
- diesel mechanics.