Timing is everything right?
The time you choose to travel to Antarctica may make or your break your bucket list. If the whales are a passion, then choosing to travel in November is not going to end well when you vessel turns and heads back on to the Drake Passage and you have seen just a few flukes. Below we have quickly summarised each of the three distinct seasons in Antarctica and the experiences each of them brings.
Early Summer: October – November
Early summer voyages are excellent options for a number of reasons, they are also excellent value as it is a quieter time for both visitors and wildlife. At this time of year, Antarctica is just waking from the depth of a long and dark Antarctic winter. The Antarctic landscape is cloaked in beautiful virgin snow, the snow level reaches down to the Antarctic shores, penguins are not in abundance which is good on the nose and importantly not many ships travel at this time. Arriving at landing sites, where the snow is perfect and there is not a footprint or Penguin highway to be seen, you’ll have a great sense of what it was like for the early explorers to first arrive.
Early season voyages to Antarctica combine perfectly with South Georgia, this way you experience the calm before the storm in Antarctica and have amazing wildlife opportunities in South Georgia. Access to many landing sites on South Georgia are more accessible early in the season, before the Elephant seal breeding cycle begins in the coming months, making many sites too dangerous.
Pristine landscapes | Abundance of sea ice | Perfect twilight hues for photography | Good wildlife in South Georgia
Summer: December – January
Sailing in Antarctica under the Midnight Sun is when Antarctica is in full swing. It’s a magical time to experience, as the warmer months make travel more comfortable, whales arrive in vast numbers, penguin chicks hatch and seal pups are born. The melting sea ice and icebergs open up narrow channels allowing us to explore further south. If you looking for something special to do over the festive season, what better way to celebrate the ultimate white Christmas or see in the New Year at the end of the world.
On South Georgia, breeding cycles begin and Elephant seals put on ferocious displays as they protect their harem from younger males.
During December the first of the East Antarctica voyages to Commonwealth Bay depart and the Ross Sea voyages follow shortly after in early January. These locations are the most southern destinations that one can travel to without flying, so it’s important to leave later in the season in order to give the sea-ice a chance to melt and break away.
Whales | Midnight Sun | Christmas & New Year in Antarctica | Penguin chicks hatch & Seal pups born
Late Summer: February – March
February is an amazing time to be in Antarctica when so many elements come together to create a truly magnificent experience. At this time the weather is still welcoming, the days are reasonably warm and the wildlife is in absolute abundance. With winter looming, the animals on the continent are preparing for their migrations or to head back to sea, activity is at its peak as whales consume huge amounts of krill, penguin chicks and seal pups learn to swim, leopard seals arrive for a quick snack and the sun starts to set lower creating magnificent twilight hues and shadows across the landscape. February is just outside peak season but with all the benefits, you will notice cruise and flight prices drop significantly compared to December and January options.
In March we start to see the penguin and seals numbers thin, however, whale numbers are still at their peak and they are in a feeding frenzy. During February algae in the Antarctic waters clears and allows the krill to the surface, this, in turn, brings the whales up from the depths to feed on the surface. This is the time when whale encounters are at their peak, breaching displays are at their best and close encounters are at their most likely. March voyages are shoulder season and you will again see more competitive voyage prices. At this time the sun is lower in the sky which is great for photography, the days are cooling off and the weather might be a little temperamental, but this is all part of experiencing wild Antarctica.
Whale breaching displays peak | Fledgling penguin chicks | Penguin chicks & Seal pups more active | Leopard Seals | Perfect twilight hues for photography
With close to 30 expedition vessels operating in Antarctica and more than 500 Antarctic departures in our collection, there is a huge selection to choose from. You can jump to our Antarctica search page here and begin your search for the ideal voyage or you may like to have a look at our Antarctica information pages.
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