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The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of mainland Antarctica, and the only part of the continent that extends beyond the Antarctic Circle.

Essentially a rugged mountain chain, at generally 2,000 metres high, the peninsula experiences a summer melting season, which results in a number of isolated, snow-free areas forming habitats for many primitive plants, microbes and inverterbrates and offering breeding grounds for marine mammals and birds.

In particular southern elephant and southern fur seals are found in the ocean around the peninsula, and native crabeater, Ross, Weddell, and leopard seal are all ice-breeding species. Several species of bird breed in the, ice-free, summer months such as, southern fulmar, blue-eyed shag, and Antarctic tern, and chinstrap and gentoo penguins. A number of petrels – Wilson’s storm petrel and snow petrel – burrow into the ground to build their nests.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: elephant seal, hourglass dolphin, humpback whale, minke whale, orca, Antarctic minke whale, South polar skua

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Classic Antarctica

This voyage is a perfect introduction to the Antarctic, visiting prime wildlife sites along the Peninsula and in the nearby South Shetland islands. Encounter huge rookeries of gentoo, chinstrap and Adelie penguins, beaches adorned with wallowing elephant seals, and whales and dolphins along the way.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 10-11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £4,915 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Antarctic Odyssey Fly-Sail

This comprehensive itinerary retraces Shackleton’s voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia, and ends in the Falkland Islands. Antarctica’s scenery and ice are matched by the prolific wildlife on South Georgia, which includes 150,000 pairs of king penguins and numerous other species.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 18 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £15,415 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Classic Antarctic Fly-Sail

This trip takes the easiest way to Antarctica and flies from Punta Arenas in southern Chile, to save time and enjoy an aerial view of the Drake Passage. This active adventure involves daily landings by Zodiac inflatable, and with ever-changing ice and weather conditions, each voyage is unique.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 7-11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £9,335 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Crossing the Polar Circle

The aim of this voyage is to reach as far south as weather and ice conditions will permit, and cross the Antarctic Circle, a feat that only a few will ever accomplish. En route you will navigate awe-inspiring waterways, littered with giant icebergs, whilst being followed by an array of seabirds and several whale species.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 12-14 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £6,390 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Emperor Penguins of the Weddell Sea

This voyage to the Weddell Sea offers a unique highlight - three days are reserved to visit, by helicopter, an emperor penguin colony, situated south of Snow Hill Island. Getting close to these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is a unique and memorable experience.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £9,000 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Great Antarctic Voyage

This ultimate Antarctic experience marries the phenomenal wildlife of the sub-Antarctic islands of the Falklands and South Georgia to the pristine beauty of the Antarctic Peninsula. Explore dramatic wilderness areas and visit huge penguin colonies, all amongst hauntingly beautiful polar scenery.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 19-20 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £10,870 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Polar Circle Fly-Sail

Flying to the South Shetlands over Cape Horn and avoiding the rough waters of the Drake Passage, this itinerary offers the easiest way to travel to Antarctica. Sailing down the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, the voyage passes spectacular icebergs in the company of sea birds, penguins, seals and whales.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 9-11 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £8,500 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Ross Sea & Grand Southern Antarctica

Travelling from Ushuaia to New Zealand, this voyage takes you across the Ross Sea, where around one third of the world’s emperor penguins breeds. Landings are made by Zodiac inflatable or helicopter, and other wildlife highlights include elephant seals, Adélie and gentoo penguins, and orca and minke whales.

  • When to go: Feb-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 32 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £22,175 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

South Georgia

Embark on a superb voyage to South Georgia, the remotest and wildest of the UK's Overseas Territories. After exploring the abundant wildlife of the Falkland Islands, it is a two day journey to South Georgia, where you will find snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and a huge numbers of seabirds and marine mammals.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 15-20 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £9,580 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

Weddell Sea Explorer

Take a trip to follow in the wake (and footsteps) of Sir Ernest Shackleton and travel to one of Antarctica's hidden gems, the Weddell Sea. A land of icebergs and volcanic islands, the area is a haven for birdlife and a great place to experience wildlife amid stunning scenery.

  • When to go: Nov-Mar
  • Duration exc. flights: 12 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £9,000 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Recommended cruise vessels:

Akademik Ioffe

Designed originally for polar research, the Akademik Ioffe is modern, comfortable, safe and ice-strengthened. Carrying around 100 passengers, facilities include a fitness room, massage room, sauna and plunge pool. Kayaking, camping, hiking, snowshoeing and skiing are available on most voyages.

Akademik Sergey Vavilov

The Akademik Sergey Vavilov is an ice-strengthened vessel which started life in Finland as a scientific research vessel, and has since been refitted and refurbished to sail the Polar seas. The ship’s bridge is an excellent place from which to view wildlife, and the on board hot tub is a great addition!

Ocean Nova

An extremely comfortable and well-equipped Polar expedition vessel, Ocean Nova is one of the leading vessels classified to operate in ice-filled waters. Accommodating around 60 passengers, cabins are outside facing and there is an excellent glass-enclosed forward observation lounge on the top deck.

Ortelius

The ice-strengthened Ortelius is an excellent vessel for expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic. With the highest ice-class notation, it offers possibilities to travel to remote locations such as the Ross Sea and Franz Josef Land. Flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities.

Plancius

The Plancius accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in cabins ranging from triple to superior, all with outside view and private facilities. She offers a range of itineraries in Antarctica and the Arctic, and the large open deck spaces offer excellent opportunities to watch wildlife.

Polar Pioneer

Small and manoeuvrable, the Polar Pioneer is an ice-strengthened vessel, capable of venturing into remote corners of the world that many larger ships cannot reach. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal, and you will be in the company of an experienced team of expedition experts and crew.

Ushuaia

The Ushuaia is an ice-strengthened vessel specially refurbished for Antarctic expedition voyages. She boasts 46 cabins and suites for a total of 88 passengers, and has a fantastic observation lounge designed to maximise wildlife viewing. A fleet of Zodiac inflatables is used for shore landings.