Sitting at higher latitudes than the Antarctic continent, the islands of South Georgia and the Falklands benefit from more amenable conditions during the month of October. This is the start of the penguins' mating season, and watching the various species engage in their courting rituals is always a joy, from the diminutive macaroni penguin to vast colonies of king penguin and their attendant offspring, who at this time of year will still be garbed in their fluffy brown down feathers. There will also be fewer bull elephant seals on the beaches, and although these hulking marine mammals are undoubtedly a sight to behold, their aggressive nature can make zodiac landings dangerous. The fewer 4-ton carnivores guarding their territory, the more land-based excursions you'll be able to enjoy!
Snow and ice will be at their most pristine, and with snow still blanketing South Georgia's mountaintops, conditions for photography will be at their best. You'll also see fewer ships here so early on in the season – always a bonus whether you're a keen photographer or just an admirer of untouched wilderness. Down at the Antarctic Peninsula itself, you may need to push through some tough winter ice in order to make landfall, and depending on conditions, you may experience the elements at their most raw and unforgiving. This is an experience in itself, but with the magnificent snowbound landscapes of South Georgia and the wonderful wildlife encounters on offer both here and in the Falklands, it is worth booking a trip that visits all three destinations to increase your chances of wildlife sightings. The rusting whaling station of Grytviken and the grave of legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton also await on South Georgia, allowing you to immerse yourself in the history of the polar regions as well as witnessing its wildlife.