The Antarctic summer season is quite short, running from late October through to March. There are seasonal nuances and the timing of your trip may be influenced by what you are hoping to see:
Late october - November (spring)
Early in the season you are likely to encounter larger amounts of snow and icebergs will be at their most spectacular. This is the time of year when courtship is in full swing and in the penguin rookeries you will see birds displaying and nest building. In South Georgia and the Falklands, the spring flowers bloom and the fur seals will also be courting. Male elephant seals, the heavyweights of Antarctica, slug it out for mating rights on the beaches of South Georgia - a brutal yet awesome spectacle. This is the ideal time to be visiting the Sub-Antarctic Islands for bird watching.
December - January (mid summer)
This is when Antarctica is at its warmest and wildlife most active; you will also have the advantage of up to 24 hours of daylight. The penguin chicks in the more northerly latitudes hatch first with those on the peninsula mainly hatching around mid-December. This is the height of the season and coincides with the highest cabin fares. Expeditions from Australasia to the Ross Sea and East Antarctica depart during this season.
February - March (late summer)
These two months are renowned as the best for whale watching as they are likely to be seen in their most prolific numbers. The penguin rookeries will be busy with adult birds bringing in krill for their fast growing chicks, most of which will fledge in late February to early March. Leopard seal pups provide drama as they cut their teeth and hone hunting skills. By late summer the sea ice will have broken up making navigation further south easier, while the soft, low light can be ideal for photography.
There is no substitute for talking to somebody about the best time to visit Antarctica. Our polar experts look forward to helping you plan your trip.