No place on Earth compares to the wonder that is Antarctica – it’s no surprise that this other-worldly land is a bucket-list destination for so many.
Vast and mysterious, surreal and remote, it’s a white wilderness that’s inspired explorers since before it was even discovered.
If you’re looking to travel to this frozen continent, November to March is the best time to go. That’s because it’s the only time. Tourist access is restricted during the winter months when Antarctica is plunged into darkness and indescribable cold (the lowest temperature ever recorded, in 1983, was −89.2°C!), but in ‘summer’ the sun rises above the horizon, temperatures can sometimes creep above zero and the sea ice breaks up enough to allow ships to pass.
Just cruising through this land of floating ice towers never ceases to amaze, but incredible shore excursions and activities are also posslbe – from kayaking in the icy waters and visiting research stations to learn more about this fascinating continent, to hiking and even climbing Antarctic peaks. You’ll also encounter some of the world’s most extraordinary species, from the emperor penguins on Snow Hill Island to Weddell seals, albatrosses and petrels.
If you’re lucky you’ll also see enormous whales – humpbacks, sperm whales and orcas – which migrate from afar. March, at the very end of the season, is a prime month for whale sightings.
Another reason why holding out until the end of the tourist season can be a good idea is that you can sometimes get a good price on a cruise (although they’re never cheap) and even a last-minute deal from some places.
Every month from November to March has its own individual charms, offering different but equally enthralling sights to see. So if you'd rather give the whales a miss and see new penguin hatchlings and seal pups instead, better wait until the new season, which commences in November!
But whenever you take a trip to the edge of the planet, it’s sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will never be forgotten.