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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, humpback whale, leopard seal, Weddell seal, orca, emperor penguin, South polar skua, light-mantled albatross

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

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 £10,350 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 £11,900 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 £6,800 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Recommended cruise vessels:

Greg Mortimer

The Greg Mortimer introduces an exciting new generation of ship for cruising in the Polar regions. Purpose-built for expedition cruising with a uniquely designed ice-strengthened hull to provide a more comfortable voyage, this small ship can venture into remote areas that larger vessels cannot reach.


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.


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.