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The Arctic
THE POLAR REGIONS

The Antarctic

Antarctica is the world's last frontier. It is the coldest, driest, harshest and most remote region of the world whose incredible beauty, grandeur, solitude and fragility has a profound effect on each privileged visitor. The almost-total absence of industry and human presence has preserved an ethereal landscape like nowhere else on earth and is a reminder of the remarkable power of nature.

Each Antarctic expedition begins with a sea voyage, with most departing from Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina. Vessels are ice-strengthened ships, usually former research vessels that have undergone significant amenity and comfort refurbishments, but luxury cruise ships with elegant suites are also available on certain journeys. All ships comprise of expert captains and crew, geologists, naturalists, ornithologists and historians who share their first-hand knowledge and experiences with passengers; making them ideal travel companions and expedition guides. Itineraries offer exploration of the Sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia and the Falklands, to the Antarctic Peninsula, and the remote Ross Sea each as spectacular and significant as the next. Sea and shore excursions offer mindboggling experiences for travellers. At specifically chosen locations, small groups are taken in Zodiac inflatables to encounter incredible wildlife, isolated coastlines, historic sights and scientific research stations. The long daylight hours usually allow time for two or three activities per day, meaning little time need be spent on the ship, so those seeking inspiration or a challenge have plenty to keep themselves occupied.

Shore activities provide up-close encounters with large colonies of penguin who are often curious enough to approach the peering lenses of delighted photographers! Gentoo, Adelie, Chinstrap and Emperor penguins go about their daily routine in a raucous, busy fashion while neighbouring Leopard and Elephant seals lazily sun themselves or float by on ice floes. Sighting Orcas, Humpback and Minke whales delivers one of Antarctica's most exciting experiences, and bird lovers will delight at viewing some of the most fascinating sea birds in the world. Sea kayaking presents a passive approach to exploring Antarctica's waters. Led by experienced guides, small groups quietly paddle around stunning bays and mountains of ice. Icebergs are commonly as much as 30 metres tall and equally as wide, so views from the water's surface simply enhance their intimidating, yet majestic, presence. The ice seems to present multiple temperaments as it groans against sunlight and sea, changes colour from blue to white, and fractures to reveal jagged bluffs. It is even possible to discover aquamarine, violet and the rare green-coloured iceberg a sight that will not soon be forgotten.

The more adventurous options of cross-country skiing, ice climbing and mountaineering allow visitors to traverse and scale Antarctica's inner remote regions, and it is even possible to take a dip in the thermal waters on Deception Island. Overnight camping on the ice shelf of Antarctica is a popular activity, and a great way to experience the silence of the polar wilderness.

November begins the tourist season in Antarctica. It is early summer and you can expect to see penguins courting. Penguin chicks will begin hatching in December and into January with all-day sun and warmer temperatures. February and March are the best months to view fledgling penguin chicks and for whale watching.

Click here for our suggestions on events and places to go at various times of year

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