5 Reasons to Visit the Antarctic Peninsula

  1. Ludicrously beautiful, the Peninsula has some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole of Antarctica
  2. Home to the greatest collection of Antarctic wildlife, a veritable menagerie of penguins, seals and whales
  3. The most accessible and popular part of Antarctica to visit from Patagonia, with the widest choice of voyages and ships
  4. Traverse ice-choked channels by zodiacs, experience the cacophony of penguin rookeries, camp out on the Continent
  5. Visit the Peninsula's highlights - Deception Island, Port Lockroy, Paradise Bay and the Lemaire Channel to name but a few

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John says

The Antarctic Peninsula: Your Questions Answered

  • Where is the Antarctic Peninsula?

    Regarded as one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Antarctic Peninsula lies just a short two day journey by boat from the toe of Patagonia, across the narrow neck of the infamous Drake Passage.

    This is the most easily accessed part of Antarctica and as a result of this and the Peninsula's scenic beauty and extraordinary menagerie of wildlife, it's also the most popular.

  • How will I get there?

    The majority of cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula set sail from the Argentine port city of Ushuaia, which you can fly to direct from Buenos Aires (3hr 40min duration) - both LAN and Aerolineas Argentinas run several flights per day.  After a night in Ushuaia you embark your Antarctic ship and head out along the sheltered waters of the Beagle Channel.  On reaching open seas, the crossing to Antarctica takes around two days, although this will very much be influenced by weather conditions.  As you get closer to Antarctica, icebergs drifting north out of the Weddell Sea will start to be sighted.  Most cruises first reach the South Shetland Islands, which are part of Antarctica but lie 75 miles west of the Peninsula (this is where the landing strip is on King George Island for those flying direct from Punta Arenas).

  • How many days is a typical Antarctic Peninsula cruise?

    These Antarctica voyages are typically 10 to 12 days in duration, giving you 4-5 actual days in Antarctica exploring. Some itineraries include a night's hotel accommodation in Ushuaia prior to embarkation on Day 2.

  • What can I expect to see and do when I get there?

    In short, prepare for sensory overload. Traveling along the western side of the Peninsula, by day you'll take to rubber zodiacs to cruise amongst towering icebergs, visit vast penguin rookeries and cruise ice floes for wildlife; whilst at night you'll anchor up in a quiet bay ready for the next day's adventure.

    Your days in Antarctica are busy with an early start followed by breakfast and then into the zodiacs for your first landing of the day.  Landings take two forms - either wet (wear waterproofs) or dry landings, which your expeditionary staff will prepare you for and accompany you during.  Landings typically visit one of the many penguin rookeries which dot this whole area, providing ample opportunity to enjoy the clownish antics of penguins.

    Returning to the ship after 2-3 hours of exploring, a hot drink is much appreciated.  Lunch is then served.  The ship may re-position before a second landing in the afternoon when you might undertake a zodiac cruise amongst vast grounded icebergs, or perhaps patrol the ice edge for basking seals (particularly Crabeater, Fur and Weddell).  It's then back to the ship for a shower followed by a well-deserved drink with which to share stories with your fellow travellers of all you've seen and done during the day.  The discussion continues over dinner, followed by a good night's sleep.

  • Will there be experienced guides and naturalists on board?

    Yes, definitely. Your expeditionary staff are a crucial part of your Antarctic experience, accompanying you throughout and providing not only set lectures during your voyage, but also information and context during actual landings. They're always on hand to answer any questions and are a mine of information on all related subjects. Each member of the expeditionary team is an expert in their respective field, many having spent literally years in Antarctica. They report to the expeditionary leader, who along with the ship's captain is responsible for the whole voyage.

  • Which route will my Antarctic cruise take?

    On arrival in Antarctica, a Peninsula cruise typically begins by exploring the South Shetland Islands, including Half Moon Bay, Deception Island and Livingston Island.  From there you might continue on to Hope Bay and the Antarctic Sound (filled with tabular icebergs) before heading south along the Gerlache Strait and through the Lemaire Channel to Paradise Bay.

    Ultimately your actual route will be heavily influenced by the weather and ice conditions, and where the expeditionary leader and captain decide will provide you with the best landing sites, which is why no two Antarctic cruises are ever the same. This flexibility is a key feature of any Antarctic cruise and is very much all part of the adventure.

  • When should I plan my visit?

    Cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula operate between late October and the end of March, with departures throughout providing quite a wide choice of when to visit.  There isn't particularly a 'best time' to visit Antarctica as each month has its own characteristics and nuances.  High season is late December to early February when days are long, the weather the most stable and wildlife most active.  However the spring time (late October and November) has much to offer with heavier ice and the chance of being one of the first down to Antarctica for that year; while March is excellent for whales and the softer light often preferred by Photographers.  Find out more about when to go to Antarctica.

  • How much does an Antarctic Peninsula Cruise cost?

    A classic Antarctic Peninsula cruise sailing from Ushuaia typically costs from around $6,000 USD to over $30,000 USD per person based on a Twin cabin and depending on the size of ship, category of cabin and comfort level of your ship which you decide upon, and the month in which you travel. If you prefer to fly to Antarctica, you pay a premium for this, with prices from around $11,600 USD per person based on a Twin cabin for a similar amount of time in Antarctica.

  • When should I start planning my trip?

    The sooner the better. Typically you should be looking to book your Antarctic trip at least 12-18 months in advance to be confident of securing your first choice of ship, voyage date and cabin. Many people are surprised by this, being used to booking their holidays with a far shorter lead in time, however Antarctic is different and with a finite amount of cabins and boats, those booking late will find their choice significantly reduced from those who plan ahead.

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With over 10 years' experience in Antarctica, we can guide you through the maze of options to choose the perfect voyage.

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