Antarctica has been captivating adventurers for centuries – long before it was discovered. Greek philosophers knew that there must be a land mass opposite and equivalent to the Arctic, so this undiscovered land appeared on world maps for hundreds of years before anyone had even laid eyes on it.
As one of the last truly wild places on the planet, Antarctica continues to draw the adventurers from around the world. Our world-class Expeditions Teams have been taking expeditioners to Antarctica for over 30 years, helping them get the most out of their time on the white continent and tick off as many ‘must have’ experiences as possible.
From joining an exclusive club of adventurers to cross the Antarctic Circle to whale watching from the deck of your small purpose-built expedition ship to exploring underwater, here is our knowledgeable Expedition Team’s ultimate list of the best experiences expeditioners can have in Antarctica.
10. Raising a glass as you cross the Antarctic Circle
Experience crossing the Antarctic Circle, an imaginary line located at approximately latitude 66°33′ South. Celebrate joining a small group of lucky adventures to have ventured this far south with a toast on the deck.
9. Following in Shackleton’s footsteps
Over 20 years ago, we led the first group of expeditioners on a trek across South Georgia, retracing the epic 1916 crossing of Sir Earnest Shackleton, Frank Worsley and Tom Crean. This challenging trek taking up to three days has been in our comprehensive activity program ever since. It’s a must for expeditioners who enjoy alpine trekking and mountaineering, and history buffs interested in the heroic early explorers and polar pioneers
8. Zodiac cruising in search of wildlife
Zodiacs aren’t just a means of transport. In fact, being whisked around in a Zodiac and feeling the exhilaration of the fresh Antarctic air on your face is a highlight for many expeditioners! Our Expert Zodiac Drivers are skilled at bringing you closer to Antarctica’s icy landscapes. And, as you cruise through icy bays inaccessible to the ship, your knowledgeable Expedition Team will help you spot wildlife including penguins, whales and seals sunbathing on ice floes.
7. Whale watching in your pyjamas
Sometimes you don’t even have to leave the ship to have an unforgettable wildlife encounter! While most people don’t enjoy being roused early or having their sleep interrupted, there are a few exceptions. One is when your Expedition Team spots a pod of whales putting on a show nearby. In fact, nothing gets expeditioners out of bed faster than an announcement over the PA system that some gentle giants have come along for the ride.
For a chance to observe whales at their most playful, we recommend visiting in March, after they have spent summer fattening up and are ready to burn off excess fuel – much like humans!
6. Breaking through sea ice
The experience of standing on the observation deck as your purpose-build expedition ship breaks through sea ice to forge a path that no ship has chartered before is incomparable. Many are rendered speechless, utterly awed by the raw power and beauty of nature. Our onboard Photography Guide will be on-hand to help you immortalise moments like these.
For an even more immersive experience, try your hand at sea kayaking and paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, always on alert for incredible wildlife encounters.
5. Playing penguin bingo
Whether it’s their signature waddle, their formal fashion sense or the way they effortlessly glide across ice and dive into the icy water, there is a lot to like about Antarctica’s most iconic animal.
Of the 18 species found in the Southern Hemisphere, eight make their home in Antarctica and the surrounding Subantarctic islands: the Southern Rockhopper, Chinstrap, Adélie, Macaroni, Magellanic, Gentoo and King. Can you spot them all?
4. Skiing or snowboarding in Antarctica
Antarctica opens up a whole new world of ski and snowboard possibilities. Expeditioners up for the challenge will ascend unchartered snow-capped peaks for the ultimate rush – the opportunity to descend into pristine bays filled with icebergs and be welcomed by penguin colonies below. By October, the pristine slopes are ready for first tracks by skiiers and snowboarders – possibly the first in history!
3. Camping on the ice
Year after year, camping on the ice is one of our most popular add-on activities, and for good reason. Wriggle into your thermal sleeping bag and brace yourself for an unforgettable night. Be mesmerised by glaciers shapeshifting under the moonlight sky, their shadows cast far and wide across the water. If you drift off, relish being woken up by whales breaching nearby or busy penguin colonies starting their day. But let’s face it – you could be too captivated to sleep!
2. Scuba diving in Antarctica
Experienced scuba divers will jump at the opportunity to explore Antarctica’s immeasurable ice structures and encounter unique wildlife underwater, while gaining the ultimate bragging rights for when you return home. February is the best time to explore Antarctica’s icy depths, as sea ice has retreated to the maximum level.
1. Joining the polar plunge club
For those without scuba diving experience who still want the thrill of jumping into the icy cold water, there is the infamous polar plunge, which some consider a rite of passage. This is where you jump into the freezing water in a controlled environment, supervised by your experienced Expedition Team. The reward? A shot of vodka, a seat in the hot tub with your name on it and admission to the exclusive polar plunge club!