Embarking on a polar expedition is becoming more and more popular, so when is the best time to head south?
Depending on what you hope to see and what activities you want to take part in will largely determine what part of the year you venture to Antarctica.
However, since the polar region has three distinct seasons, it's handy to know which ones are best for what.
Dr. Roger Kirkwood, naturalist with Aurora Expeditions, reveals what you can expect from the Antarctic seasons so you can plan your ultimate trip:
November - early December
"After months of relentless winter winds and scarce sunlight, the Antarctic landscape and its inhabitants come to life when spring arrives. The temperature has started to rise but there is still some pack and fast ice, giving the feel of ‘deep Antarctica’. Crabeater, Weddell and Leopard Seals have already taken advantage of the more stable sea ice to rear their pups and can be found lying around on the ice floes resting between bouts of feeding.
"In South Georgia, expeditioners can witness large King Penguin chicks that have survived the winter mixed in with new parents shuffling around with eggs on their feet; the courtship dance of the wandering Albatross; as well as Macaroni Penguins on the search for snow-free nest sites."
December - Early February
"The height of summer provides maximum opportunities for shore excursions with daylight stretching out to nearly 24 hours.
"In South Georgia, adventurers have the chance to wander around 1,000-strong King Penguin colonies and witness large, one-year-old fluffy brown chicks moulting into their adult plumage – while small, month-old fluffy chicks still sit protected on their parents’ feet. Elephant Seals suckle their pups while the Weddell Seals moult ashore. While on deck, guests can keep an eye out for arriving Humpback Whales and their exciting bubble-net feeding technique."
Mid-February - Late-March
"As Antarctica laps up the last of the summer sun and the landscape bathes in dappled light, its wildlife inhabitants show no signs of slowing down. In fact, late Summer marks an important landmark in any young penguin’s life: the first swim. On shore or aboard, expeditioners can watch on as brave little fledglings throw all caution to the wind and ice as they rocket down slippery paths into the water.
"Exploring South Georgia is a treat at this time of the year. Summer youngsters continue to grow and learn; penguin chicks fledge; and run the Leopard Seal gauntlet while Cormorant chicks learn to fly. South Georgia is alive with thousands of Fur Seal pups and Albatross chicks hatch. While the days begin to get shorter and colder, sunsets become more intense and brilliant, and floating sea ice returns."
For more info on voyages and departures to Antarctica and other far-flung destinations, please visit Aurora Expeditions.