When to go to Antarctica

    Written by cazenove+loyd

    The season is November through to March (the Antarctic summer) and travel is only possible during this time. Temperatures during this time can vary be between 5 to -27.5°C, depending on wind and weather. Each month offers dramatically different experiences and below are just some of the highlights of travelling at different times of the season.  

    Travelling in November 

    Travelling in November means plenty of snow and sea ice as well as dramatic sunsets and spring flowers in the Falklands. At this time, Weddell and fur seals are mating, elephant seals are fighting, while penguins and birds are nest-building and courting. If you cross the Drake Passage in November, you may well see albatrosses, fulmars and petrels flying overhead. 

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    Travelling in December 

    December is the start of summer, with up to 22 hours of daylight and sunnier days. At this time, the density of wildlife increases – and penguin rookeries fill up. Seal and whale sightings become common and humpback whales arrive back from the tropics to feed. Penguin chicks begin to hatch first in the Falklands, then in the Peninsula from the middle of the month. There is also less sea ice, so landings become easier.

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    Travelling in January 

    January is the height of summer, with temperatures nudging double figures and generally stable weather. Opening sea ice means vessels can cross the Antarctic Circle, while the diminishing Ross Sea ice allows access to huts of Shackleton and Scott. At this time, penguin chicks are at their fluffiest and asking for food, while humpback whales are focused on eating krill.

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    Travelling in February 

    In February, penguin chicks are most active and curious, chasing parents for food and learning how to swim. It is also peak whale-spotting season, as all migrating pods will now have arrived. Sea ice is at a minimum, so it is the best month for crossing the Polar Circle. Meanwhile, humpbacks become more inquisitive now that they have eaten.

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    Travelling in March 

    In March, there are almost guaranteed great whale sightings. Penguin chicks are very curious and will happily come up to visitors, and king and macaroni penguin rookeries are at their largest and most impressive on South Georgia. This time of year is good for photography, with spectacular sunsets and sunrises. There are fewer ships around as the season draws to a close. 

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