Reasons to Visit
As the austral sun warms Antarctica, 100 million birds fly south to feed and often breed, 35 main species will be your constant companions as you cross the Drake Passage. Pelagic birds such as the albatross, fulmar, petrel and shearwater are perhaps the most spectacular, with coastal species such as cormorant, skua, tern and sheathbills busy along the shores. The shortage of ice-free nesting land means the birds nest together in huge colonies, with almost unlimited food a few flaps away in the sea.
Antarctica’s ice comprises 70% of the world’s fresh water, a dense coat of white up to four kilometres thick. Don’t fill up your camera on the first iceberg you see: changing hues with countless shades of blue, icebergs can be stunningly beautiful. Every visitor soon becomes something of an expert in identifying different iceberg types, from low-lying ‘growlers’ that hover about the ship’s waterline to flat-topped tabular icebergs freshly broken from pack ice. Only a tenth of any iceberg can be seen above the water.
The super-chilled waters of the southern seas are rich in nutrients and it’s not for nothing the earliest explorers were whalers: the sub-Antarctic region sees the whales at their most prolific and relaxed. Orca, blue, humpback, minke, southern right and sperm whales are amongst those thronging the region from January to March (although many arrive early), blowing, breaching and mating in chilly waters of unbelievable clarity.
Enjoy spotting the penguins swim alongside your ship, dive off icebergs into the sea and fiercely guard their nests from intruders. Antarctica will give you the opportunity to walk amongst vast colonies and in January and February, enjoy watching the new chicks explore their homes.
When the penguins aren't calling to each other, enjoy the chance to listen to total silence, broken only by the occasional groan or crack of an iceberg or glacier.
Really! Take a dip in the waters of Deception Island, warmed by the volcanic crater that surrounds them and feel the cold on your face contrast with the warm on your body.
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