Once you’ve decided to embark on a voyage to Antarctica, first you need to consider when to go. This will help shed some light on this big question as the best time to travel will depend on what you want to see and do.
For six months of the year outside the austral summer, it is nearly impossible to get to Antarctica due to freezing temperatures, months of complete darkness and pack ice. The season runs from October through to March, with each month having its unique charms.
- Early season in Antarctica in October and November. The cold temperature has its pros and cons with the possibility of some areas limited due to polar icebreaking up. However a positive of this time is the impressive landscapes, with plenty of sea ice and crisp white snowscapes – it is a photographer’s dream! You’ll see Antarctica in its most undisturbed form. Getting up close to some of the biggest icebergs as you’ll be among the first to set foot here for the year. That’s alongside it being the most affordable time to visit. From October onwards penguins begin their return and start to build their nests. Their courtship rituals begin; come November, you may even be able to spot an egg or two nuzzled beneath a penguin. Whales begin to return to their feeding grounds although they are not as prominent as later in the season. Deep snow in some landing sites can mean some landings can be challenging, so remember your trekking poles.
- Peak season in Antarctica is December – February when you’ll get the most sunlight, and daily temperatures are at their warmest. With this popularity, it means it is advisable to book early. You are unlikely to have any sea ice issues stopping you from accessing anywhere. The ocean is full of life with whales feeding, penguin colonies buzzing with chicks as they hatch, and parents feed their hungry young. With the days becoming longer and temperatures rising this brings snowmelt at sea level, meaning trekking poles can be handy for trips onto slippery rocky shores. A downside is that everyone wants to go at this time, meaning expeditions are at their most expensive. Combined with the fact flights to Argentina around the Christmas and New Year period are also higher than usual – it pays to book far in advance for this popular time of year.
- The late-season in Antarctica covers February and March by which time the feeding fest of summer has died down. A positive of this time of year is that there will be fewer vessels operating so you won’t be competing with other ships for landings. Prices will be a little cheaper than high season. However late season cruising means you’ll be walking over a season worth of landing sites. So once pristine icy shores can become mucky, and you should expect rocky and muddy landings. Most adult penguins finish moulting and begin taking to the sea; watching these first cautious steps and learning to swim a remarkable thing to witness. It is the best time to observe whales feeding with krill; however, other wildlife may have already headed out to sea. Come the end of March the days are markedly shorter, the temperature begins to drop, and the sea ice begins to build up again, marking the beginning of winter.
Now you know when is the best time to travel to Antarctica and which are the places to visit in Antarctica. However, you probably have many more questions. Let our expert travel advisors answer all your queries and create a perfect itinerary for you. Call us in and let us tell you about the options we have in store for you!