The white wilderness of Antarctica is a vast, desolate landscape of snow and ice layered over raw rock and frigid water. It is a land of mysterious, almost haunting beauty. Enormous tabular icebergs and beaches covered with thousands of penguins make up the otherworldly, icy architecture of the Antarctic.
In latitudes below the equator the seasons are reverse those of North America, so December to January is the height of the austral summer and the most attractive tour season. The temperatures are warmer, with highs in the low 40°s F, sunlight lasts about 20+ hours a day and penguins are hatching eggs and feeding chicks. Tourist can go to Antarctica as early as November when birds and penguins are courting and mating or as late as February and March when whale watching is at its best. During Antarctica’s winter, frozen pack ice encases the continent and temperatures can go down to -50°F so tours cannot visit then.
To reach Antarctica, most cruises depart Ushuaia, Argentina at the southernmost tip of South America and sail south across the legendary rough-water Drake Passage. Cruises of two to three weeks in length visit the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands. Passenger ships are purpose-built to handle the ice and don’t have the discos and entertainment extravaganzas that typical large cruise ships employ. Instead, you will enjoy the knowledge of expert guides who give lectures on the natural history and wildlife of Antarctica. Most ships carry less than 150 passengers and the number of people on any given excursion is strictly limited to reduce the environmental impact.
Excursions may include venturing out in kayaks or Zodiacs to see the seabirds and marine mammals that flourish here. You’ll see seals wallowing on the beach, hear the cries of penguins and glide through berg fields. You might land on a rocky beach for a close encounter with the wildlife or visit a research station to experience Antarctica with all your senses. The beauty and scale of the White Continent is awe-inspiring and you will revel in the huge, nurturing silence of this pristine place.
If you would like to visit this rugged and dramatic landscape, our Virtuoso partners offer the best value, most comfortable ships and expert guides to make your expedition the trip of a lifetime. Contact Covington Travel to plan your amazing journey.