July 27, 2017
Visiting Antarctica and South Georgia takes planning and organisation to ensure you make the most of your trip. One of the things you need to consider is the timing of the visit. Choosing the right time of year to visit Antarctica and South Georgia will largely depend on what you want to see and experience when you get there. To help you decide, here’s what each part of the Antarctic season can offer the traveller:
The Antarctic ‘season’ runs from October to March. Traveling outside of these months is quite difficult because the weather and the winter ice make the region inaccessible. And within the season (Oct – Mar), there are periods that will offer you different sights and experiences.
Experiencing an Antarctic cruise in October means you will be able to see Antarctica at its most white and pristine as it is the start of the season and the winter ice will still be present. The ice may still impact the planned route of your journey / itinerary so you need to be patient and keep that in mind. There will be around 14-16 hours of daylight and the temperature can fall to -23 degrees C at night and rise to -15 degrees C in the daytime.
October is also the start of the mating season for penguins so there will be plenty of courting activity amongst the penguins in South Georgia, particularly, for you to capture.Find out more about October cruises here.
Travel to Antarctica in November and you’ll be visiting during Austral spring and early Austral summer when the daylight hours lengthen and temperatures begin to rise. You can expect to experience a daytime maximum of around -7 degrees C and a dip to -13 degrees C at night. There will still be a very snowy and icy landscape – which will be at its most pristine since you will still be amongst the first visitors. There will also be plenty to see since the wildlife will be very busy. Penguins will be building nests and laying eggs. Humpback and Minke whales will begin arriving back in the region to feed and you can experience some beautiful icy sunsets before the region begins to experience its 24 hours of daylight. Polar ice might still impact your schedules or itineraries as it is still early in the season, but you will make up for this in what you’ll experience from the scenery. Find out more about November expeditions here.
In December, Antarctic days lengthen to close to 24 hours of daylight. And the region is full of life – chicks begin to hatch and seals give birth – so here’s plenty to see if you visit Antarctica and South Georgia in December. It’s also the time when icebergs are at their best and most impressive. Temperatures will average around 0 degrees C in the daytime and -6 degrees C overnight. The festive season in Antarctica is a fabulous experience and places are in demand, so please do plan ahead. Find out more about December expeditions to Antarctica and South Georgia here.
As you can imagine, things begin to warm up in January and the sea ice and pristine landscapes fade – so it’s best to keep this in mind if you are only there to capture the snowy and icy vistas. But with the departure of the snow and ice, there are new opportunities to be had. It is much warmer and there is still 24 hours of daylight as the New Year comes in, and around 20 hours towards the end of the month. Travellers are able to make good use of the less extreme conditions to visit historical aspects of Scott and Shackleton’s expeditions. There will also be plenty of wildlife to see including penguin chicks, seal pups and whales feeding in the vicinity.Find out more about January expeditions here.
February temperatures remain relatively warm with around 16-18 hours of daylight. It is arguably the best time of year for whale watchers to visit Antarctica as most of the whales have made their way back for the season and are busy feeding. It is possible to catch sight of blue, orca, minke, sperm and humpback whales here. Antarctic enthusiasts may also be able to head further south across the polar circle if aboard ice breaking ships.Find out more about February expeditions to the area here.
The tourism season reaches its close in March. Daylight reduces and the temperature plummets. It is a fantastic month for whale watching, however, if you are hoping to capture photographs of penguins, then be mindful of the fact that they begin to lose feathers at this point in preparation for the harsh winter ahead. It is however a good time to retrace the route of Shackleton and his ship Endurance which was crushed by ice and retracing his heroic journey to save his crew. Find out more about March cruises to the area here.
Every month offers something different for visitors to the Antarctic and South Georgia. The best time to visit Antarctica depends on what you want to experience the most so think about what you most want to see when you are here.
Hopefully this post has helped you understand a little more on what time of year to visit Antarctica and South Georgia. Please visit expeditionsonline.com for more information on traveling to the Antarctic. We specialise in cruises and expeditions on small ships to some of the planet’s most remote and amazing travel destinations. We visit Antarctica throughout the season, and you can speak to one of our online advisors if you would like further advice on timing your visit correctly. We look forward to welcoming you aboard.