British explorer Ranulph Fiennes has been taken to hospital after pulling out of an expedition across the South Pole due to severe frostbite.

Fiennes arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, in the early hours of Thursday morning after leaving his expedition team in Antarctica.

The 68-year old explorer was injured after falling off his skis and using his bare hands in minus 30 degree centigrade temperatures to fix the binding, resulting in frostbite.

His evacuation to South Africa was hampered by blizzard conditions but his agents confirmed that his plane took off from the nearby airbase, in the Antarctic, on Wednesday night.

Fiennes was leading a five man team in what has been dubbed the 'Coldest Journey' - a 2, 000-mile trek in Antartica, in winter, the coldest months of the year.

A video posted on the expedition's Facebook page on Wednesday showed Fiennes bidding goodbye to the team.

"I just gotta say that I think you lot, the five of you, I'm amazed how we managed to get the team together with such brilliant people and I have total and utter confidence in all of you, all of you," he told them.

The team plans to stick to their scheduled March 21 departure without Fiennes who was quoted as saying that he was "gutted" he could not go.

Fiennes's team members are likely to face some of the toughest conditions on Earth, near permanent darkness and temperatures dropping close to -90C. It is the first time such an expedition has been attempted.

The expedition, from the Russian base of Novolazarevskaya to the Ross Sea is expected to take six months. The journey is to benefit Seeing is Believing, a charity which tackles avoidable blindness.

Presented by Adam Justice