Life in the snow
Antarctica is a place for extraordinary travellers. It’s a place for extreme adventures and thrilling discoveries, that only a tiny number of people get to experience.
Imagine the vast expanse of white, stretching to the horizon. Or towering icebergs drifting on the currents. Imagine wandering through the blue caves or landing on an ice runway in your own private jet – like we said, it’s extraordinary. As this remote location opens up after its impenetrable winter, a handful of visitors travel south, following in the footsteps of the world’s most famous explorers.
Between November and March is the best time to visit the Antarctic. These are the ‘summer' months when the temperature just drifts above freezing and the sun rises over the horizon, giving up to 24 hours of daylight. This is the time of year when the wildlife is at its busiest – freed from a biting winter freeze and ready to nurse babies and make use of a more abundant natural larder.
Antarctica has been the holy grail of scientific research ever since Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen set foot there in 1911. It is home to thousands of scientists, each one involved in ground-breaking global conservation work. The area acts as a mirror on the world, from the polar cap to the area’s icebergs and the resident wildlife. But it also hides mysteries all of its own, which scientists are working to slowly unpick. From otherworldly creatures that can survive at -60 degrees, to incredible ice formations and submerged volcanoes, fascinating insights are revealed at every step along the way.
We can fly you to the Earth’s most southerly point, where you can get your South Pole passport stamp before visiting one of the world’s most important research centres. Tour the American Amundsen-Scott Science Base with our experts, speak to the scientists who work and live there and discover more about their ground-breaking research. There can be few more awe-inspiring days.
Visitors to Antarctica tend to have an appetite for adventure and an adrenaline buzz, so our trips always include options to satisfy even the most extreme appetites. How about kite-skiing across an endless expanse of white? See the sights at pace and get a sense of the scale of this incredible landscape. Or, you could venture below ground into one of the area’s brilliant blue ice caves. Caused by a mix of compacted snow and solar radiation, the ice within the glacial caves glows a brilliant sky blue, and combined with the silencing effects of the snow it forms an utterly otherworldly experience. If physical endurance is your thing then follow our experts up some of the area’s unclimbed peaks or don your skis and head as far south as possible – toasting your arrival at the South Pole with a truly chilled glass of bubbly.
Sometimes though, the Antarctic and its breathtaking landscape can only be fully realised by air. Take a helicopter ride to discover one of the most untouched and undiscovered places in the world. From the unnamed bays and natural harbours to the floating seal colonies and huge frozen waves, this is an area where everything is super-scaled, and distance brings fresh perspectives.
After all of that – sneak out of your luxury private camp at night to watch the Southern Lights dance overhead. A perfect way to round off the day in this land of beautiful extremes.
Of course, wildlife is at the heart of many visitors’ Antarctic travels – the creatures that we all know so well from the television, but that so few people have witnessed in the wild. The emperor penguin experience is an Antarctic must. Just a two-hour flight from camp, we will take you to South Georgia to see the vast emperor penguin colony.
See the chicks take their first tentative steps, take in the scale of the colony were more than six thousand penguins gather to raise their young, and pick out the individuals that capture your imagination. With no land predators, these penguins have no fear of humans and will often approach visitors, giving you a close-up that no nature documentary can match – it is one of the greatest thrills on Earth.
And of course, you might just see some elephant seals interspersed in the crowd. Through winter the penguins own the beaches but come the summer months they share happily with the giant seals, who come searching for mates and vying for the role of beach master. Compared to the penguins’ sleek elegance, these seals are the giants – prehistoric-looking behemoths, all brute force and strength.
Then there are the whales – orcas, sperm whales, humpbacks and blue whales can all be found in these freezing waters and they have had an intrinsic role in the history of this mini continent. Stay in South Georgia to explore an abandoned whaling station (the one that Ernest Shackleton and his men walked into after their epic escape from Antarctica). Feel the eerie history of the place, which is now only inhabited by resting seals, then board our luxury boat to weave between iceberg-strewn passages in search of hunting orcas. Be guided by our experts who track the whales and know exactly where to find them. Experience nature at its most mesmerising as these fantastic beasts work as a team to home in on their prey.
At a smaller end of the scale (but certainly with no less grace and beauty) are the leopard seals. Dive with us beneath the ice in search of these playful and curious creatures, so named because of their delicately spotted skin. Watch them emerge through the plankton-rich water and wait as they inspect their visitors. This is their home, on their terms - coming face to face with nature doesn’t get more exhilarating.
Our trips are absolutely guided by you. Read more to satisfy your wanderlust and get in touch to plan your own life changing travel experience to Antarctica.