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Antarctica tours

When is the best time to visit Antarctica?

The month in which you travel to Antarctica makes a lot of difference.

November – March is the short expedition season
This is not only the best time to visit Antarctica, it is the only time it’s possible – as the ice breaks up allowing ships to pass. The continent is colder but at its most untouched, with pristine ice and snow, and wildflowers blooming on the islands. December and January enjoy days filled with 20 hours of sunshine, which bring welcome warmth; temperatures hover above freezing, creating perfect conditions for seal pups and penguin chicks – as well as whales.

  Most Ideal Low Season

Overview

This is high season in the peninsula with temperatures at their warmest – averaging 33°F! Penguin hatching is in full flow and wildlife is most plentiful during this time of year. From the end of this month up to March is a good time for whale watching. The amount of snow visible usually reduces around this time, so you will see a lot of gray rock in the landscape. Please note the cruise is open to guests eight years and above.

WE RECOMMEND

  • If you are over 16 and possessed of an adventurous spirit, why not spend a night as part of the ultimate camping experience – sleeping on the ice in Antarctica!
  • Venture onto the calm ocean waters as you gracefully glide over the glasslike surface on your kayak, under the eye of your watchful guide. Don’t forget to peer at the spectacular world unfolding below you! Do note that this activity is open to those 16 years and above
  • If you are a bird lover, keep your eyes peeled and camera ready as you spot all types of albatrosses, cormorants, petrels, gulls and skimmers

OVERVIEW

February marks late summer in Antarctica and ideal whale watching conditions persist through the month. The daytime average temperature usually hovers around 21°F but expect it to get colder, and the number of daylight hours to gradually reduce as the month progresses. Please note the cruise is open to guests eight years and above.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Gain intimate access right into the rarely seen world of the biggest mammals on earth – the blue whale and the humpback whale as they return to feed in the nutrient-rich waters of the Antarctic Ocean

OVERVIEW

Great whale watching conditions continue through the month. This is also the best time to head south of the Antarctic Circle as the ice would have melted in the region. There also tend to be fewer vessels operating at this time, which means you won’t have to compete with other ships for landings. Please note the cruise is open to guests eight years and above.

WE RECOMMEND

  • If you are visiting this month, it’s still a great time for a spot of whale watching!
  • Don’t forget to savor and photograph the stunning sunsets around this time

OVERVIEW

The ice is frozen so travel is not possible during these months.

OVERVIEW

The ice is frozen so travel is not possible during these months.

OVERVIEW

The ice is frozen so travel is not possible during these months.

OVERVIEW

The ice is frozen so travel is not possible during these months.

OVERVIEW

The ice is frozen so travel is not possible during these months.

OVERVIEW

The ice is frozen so travel is not possible during these months.

OVERVIEW

The ice is frozen so travel is not possible during these months.

OVERVIEW

November is early season time and undoubtedly the most adventurous time to visit the Peninsula! Spring is gradually setting in after the long dark winter days. The pack ice begins to break up, and the landscape is at its most pristine with plenty of fresh snow. It’s mating season for the penguins and other birds returning to their breeding sites. This is also the time when albatross, marine fulmars, and petrels adorn the Southern Ocean, and the blue-eyed shags return to the region. Please note the cruise is open to guests eight years and above.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Feast your eyes on the spectacular sunsets before midsummer – the skies shift from blacks to grays before a blood-red horizon spills out over the ice and water as far as the eye can see. Red turns over into orange and yellows before clear light blankets everything. This fantastic evening light makes this one of the best times for photographers to capture the islands’ stunning natural beauty
  • Marvel at the spectacular icebergs, with ice falling into the water or with cavorting penguins atop of them as you cruise down the magnificent ice-filled fjords

OVERVIEW

December is around the time the high season starts setting in. You can expect anywhere upwards of 20 hours of daylight, and average temperatures near the coast usually hover around 30°F. Please note the cruise is open to guests eight years and above.

WE RECOMMEND

  • Bring your binoculars and prepare to enter the world of the penguin! And there are so many to photograph – from the tiny Adelie, and the easily recognizable Chinstrap, to the Macaroni and the remarkable Southern Rockhopper
  • This is also the month the chicks start hatching in the penguin rookeries so be prepared for a lot of activity in those areas!
  • Visit a research base to get a first-hand glimpse of what it is like to live on Antarctica. There are several abandoned and fully occupied bases scattered the continent and a general population, depending on the season, of anywhere between 1000-4000 people
Excellent / 4.9 out of 5
best time to visit antarctica to view of icebergs and whale in Antarctica

Climate in Antarctica

With average temperatures of -94°F and -40°F during August – the peak of winter – the climate of Antarctica is the harshest of all continents. It does get warmer during the summer months with average temperatures of 5°F and – 49°F in February, which is considered the warmest month of the region. However, temperatures are somewhat higher in the coastal areas due: between -25°F to 5°F in winter, and 23°F to 41°F in the summer months. With such extreme climatic conditions, it is no wonder that Antarctica is the driest region on our planet, almost entirely a desert. The land experiences six months of daylight in the summer months of October to March, and the rest of the year is spent in darkness. It’s also where the lowest ever temperature on earth was recorded in 2018, -144.04°F, beating the previous record of -128.56°F from 1983!

Enchanting Travels Antarctica Tours tourist wildlife photographer taking photo of bird adelie penguin in

What to Pack for Antarctica

Covered by ice approximately a mile thick, it’s safe to say Antarctica is the coldest place on earth. Temperatures often drop to as low as -70°C. With no precipitation, Antarctica is a dry place too and is technically classified as a desert. So as you can imagine; what one wears is of the utmost importance, be it day or night.

Suggested Clothing

The average temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula area during the austral summer is about 32°F, although sometimes it may feel a little lower because of the wind chill factor. For this reason, it is best to wear several layers of light, warm clothing. The suggested clothing for Antarctica is very similar to that recommended for skiing: thermal underwear, a couple of warm and wicking mid-layers, and windproof and waterproof jacket and pants as the outer layer – essentially a layered system with an outer layer that is waterproof. The air between the layers provides additional insulation. Fleeces are very suitable and waterproof pants for the landing are essential. You will also need a hat, a scarf, waterproof and insulated gloves, and sunglasses with high UV protection. We offer a complimentary packer to our guests.

Waterproof Boots

You will need to stay as warm and dry as possible all the time. Therefore, correct footwear is very important. As most landings in Antarctica are “wet landings”, the best footwear is knee-high waterproof boots. You will not need to carry them with you since your air cruiser will provide you with a pair of thermal rubber boots before arriving in Antarctica. Sturdy walking shoes or sneakers with a good grip sole for the slippery deck, and rubber boots will be provided. Please note that we provide rubber boots for shore excursion activities during the course of the tour.

Face Protection

You will also need good sunblock lotion for your face. Good quality UV filtering sunglasses are essential. Glacier glasses have leather flaps at the sides to stop the light from passing through. Due to the high reflectance of UV radiation, you will also need good sunblock lotion for your face (this means a high protection factor of perhaps 30 and above) and lip balm.

Photography

To see the wildlife you should have a good pair of lightweight binoculars (the suggested magnification is 7× or 8×). If you are passionate about photography, do not forget a good zoom lens to shoot wildlife while avoiding close approaches. Also, take with you a good supply of memory cards and spare batteries since cold temperatures can reduce their lifespan.

As a side note, don’t forget to carry all your personal medications and a suitable backpack for your belongings during shore excursions. Lightweight disposable rain gear will not endure more than one landing, so please bring high quality, expedition-weight waterproof pants.

Man paddling on kayak between ice in Antractica, near Pleneau Island

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