The best time to visit Antarctica is the summer months of November to March – when the sea ice melts enough to enable access and the temperatures can rise above freezing.
The remote outland of Antarctica is situated deep in the Southern Hemisphere and so is generally only visited during the summer months – between November and March – when the sea ice melts enough to enable access for expedition cruise ships. Depending on the time that you decide to visit, you'll see changing ice landscapes and polar wildlife on display. So, how do you choose what time to experience the icy south? Here's a couple of pointers to make your decision (somewhat) easier.
Late spring and early summer (November to early December)
In November the sun starts to shine, the winter pack ice begins to melt and fresh, magnificent landscapes emerge, dazzling in the daylight. As the temperatures warm up a little, animals come out to play.
From November to early December, you might:
- Witness the courting rituals of colonies of penguins and seabirds
- Watch seals take to fast ice and shorelines
- See spring wildflowers bloom on the Falkland and South Georgia Islands
- Observe as elephant and fur seals establish breeding territories
- See ice formations at their sharpest
Full summer (mid-December to January)
The festive season sees local wildlife activity reach a peak. In mid-December to January, you'll also have the best chance of joining a camping experience on the Antarctic Peninsula (weather and trip dependent), and get to access as much of the region as possible.
During December, you might:
- Watch seal pups play on the Falkland and South Georgia Islands
- Snap some great shots, as the long days and wondrous midnight light is ideal for photography
- See clucky gentoo, adelie and chinstrap penguins protecting their eggs
During January, you might:
- Get the chance to see hatching baby penguins and Arctic terns
- Bask in the sun and experience the best weather, as temperatures are usually at their highest
- Luck out when whale watching, as sightings increase
Late summer (February to March)
By late summer, everything in Antarctica has thawed out and is on display. Temperatures are cooling slightly, but there's still so much to see around the peninsula and islands.
From February to March, you might:
- See penguin chicks beginning to fledge
- Discover fields of snow algae in full bloom
- Marvel at the beautiful Antarctic sunrises and sunsets
- Go in search of the best whale sightings of the year
- Spot elephant seals as they come ashore to moult
What is the weather like in Antarctica?
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