Everyone has a reason for visiting Antarctica—maybe, whether they know it or not—all of them unique and personal. For many, it can be the final checkmark on the map—the end of a lifelong bucket list to visit all corners of the earth. Others are captivated by its remote, pristine wilderness and its incredible wildlife-viewing opportunities. The call of an untouched world of glacial ice and rugged coastline is without a doubt one that is heard by many.
Whatever your reasons for visiting, there are some strong benefits to visiting the Antarctic in November, as the first rays of summer arrive on the world’s southernmost continent. Following are a few of the reasons you’ll want to reach Antarctica early in the year.
- The ice is sharp, crisp, and fresh. Over the summer, sun and sea take their toll on the innumerable icebergs that dot the Antarctic coastline. As the ice is weathered by heat and wave action, they change colour from blue to white as the volume of air trapped within changes, and the bergs become pitted and cracked. But in November and December, icebergs are at their most massive—they’re fresh from the winter season, sharp, and massive, towering in crenellated peaks over azure waters.
- The snow is immaculate. Early in the summer season, snow in Antarctica is fresh, white, and crisp—a true tabula rasa. As we cross the sea from South Georgia to the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, the most common reaction is reverence and awe. The sheer scale and immensity of the Antarctic coastline often leaves us speechless; the sparkling snow, the gleaming blue glacial shelves—unmarked with mud and impurities that are revealed by summer melt—are truly unparalleled sights to behold. Arriving early in the season means we see them at their best.
- The penguins are partying. Early expeditions offer the best opportunities for penguin viewing, as it’s their mating season and energy is at a peak. You can expect to see penguins mating, nesting or—often, and hilariously—stealing pebbles away from the nests of others. Chinstrap penguins lay late in November, and typically hatch two chicks each summer. They will occupy their colonies until the start of summer the following March, when they leave the pack ice for winter. These birds feed just offshore of their colonies, plumbing the sea for krill and fish which are shared with the chicks. The second most abundant species on the continent, the chinstraps are easily at their best early in the season—which is when we visit them.
- The world’s largest carnivores are primed for action. It may surprise you to know that the southern elephant seal—also known as Beachmasters—are the largest carnivores alive, with some adult males surpassing even polar bears in size! In summer, these giants come ashore to moult and will lay beached for weeks at a time! Some can go up to three months on land before returning to the sea to hunt. By visiting South Goergia in November and December, we ensure that our arrival is perfectly timed to see these magnificent creatures, and hear their fearsome roars.
Sound like something you’d like to be a part of? Well look no further. Join Adventure Canada this November aboard the Hebridean Sky for our Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica expedition and travel in style to the bottom of the world.