The landscapes of Antarctica stretch as far as your eyes can see – a beautiful realm preserved by pristine snow and ice. Tabular icebergs, parts of the great shelves tower above the waters while ancient glaciers give birth to blue-hued icebergs that are sculpted by wind and sun. This is another world, devoid of human influence and a haven for wildlife like whales, penguins and seals.
Just as the icescapes of Antarctica change through its seasons, so does its wildlife. For instance, the number and range of species of whale that can be seen here begin to steadily increase from October through to January, reaching their peak in February and March for the best whale-watching opportunities. By this time, the large amount of krill in the waters attract the most whales and the most whale species who come for a veritable feeding frenzy. If you arrive here in November, you might see thousands of penguins courting and building their nests. Those on December sailings may be treated to scenes of heart-meltingly cute penguin chicks whereas March is usually when adolescent penguins mature and learn how to swim. Other birds, which unlike penguins actually fly, vary throughout the summer months. Eager ornithologists will usually see the likes of cormorants, shags, egrets, sheathbills and many more.
You have five days to take in every magical moment and jaw-dropping scenery Antarctica grants you. This could be gazing at distant white mountains during a walk ashore or having a playful pair of Weddell seals surface next to your small explorer boat to take a peek at you with their large inquisitive eyes. Or being in the winning lottery of those who can join optional but weather-dependent activities like kayaking, snowshoeing or even camping. These are the kinds of experiences that await you in Antarctica. Rest assured we plan to make the most of each landing and will choose the best sites from numerous possible locations on the Antarctic Peninsula and its surrounding islands.
Lectures from the Expedition Team will be ongoing as well, be it on board the ship, ashore during landings, or even when navigating the icebergs and ice floes on cruises via small explorer boat. Topics might touch on glaciology and the impact of climate change on the Antarctic ice shelves or chart the cold continent’s history from the whaling era to its present status under an international peace treaty. The team’s insights will prove invaluable to you over the course of your journey, enhancing your sense of discovery a hundredfold.
It might be an idea to talk with the team’s professional wildlife and landscape photographer for a few tricks to improve the quality of your images. These skills will definitely come in handy for a number of Citizen Science programmes that you can choose to engage with. One of these is the HappyWhale project where photos you take of any whales you spot can be uploaded to a global database that helps researchers track the migration patterns and overall health of the population. In this way, aside from being precious memories, all your snaps add up and contribute to the greater good.