Highlights of an Antarctic wildlife holiday

It is easy to forget how dependent we are on the ocean when we lead busy lives that prevent us from seeing the natural world around us. Heading on an Antarctic wildlife holiday will reconnect you with the ocean and the natural scenery that surrounds it. This extraordinarily stark wilderness located at the end of the world is also a place of stunning natural beauty. Travelling early in the season allows you to see the unique wildlife with a backdrop of snowy peaks and towering icebergs.

A heady cocktail of glaciers, icebergs, jagged mountains, valleys and endemic wildlife all combine to overwhelm the senses and create a spellbinding natural playground.

Thriving on the Ice

Following in the footprints of explorers such as Shackleton and Scott, you can experience incredible wildlife in Antarctica, which seems surprising on first glance in this land of superlatives – the coldest, windiest and driest location on Earth! Despite these harsh conditions, penguins are there in almost unfathomable quantities, and are perhaps the most iconic of all Antarctica’s wildlife. There are actually 18 species found in the sub-antarctic, although on the continent itself you are likely to see 4 of these – the well photographed Emperor, the Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo. Marvelling at their elegance and impressive speed in the water, then witnessing them waddling awkwardly on land can be an entertaining sight.

Seals in the Antarctic are protected by various agencies and as such numbers have risen steadily, and the fact that there are no polar bears as predators has seen the numbers rise to higher than the Arctic. Leopard seals and fur seals can often be seen around the peninsular, whilst Weddell seals are more southerly and crabeater seals are generally to be seen around pack ice.

Whale species such as southern right, blue, orca, humpback, sei, fin and beaked are all found in Antarctic waters.

Experience South Georgia

On South Georgia, the wildlife experience differs slightly, with approximately 2,000 reindeer found after their introduction by whalers and sealers, the world’s only meat-eating duck, the pintail, five million pairs of macaroni penguins and Antarctica’s only songbird the pipit. 

Birders will also not be disappointed elsewhere in the White Continent, with over 45 species including seabirds, albatrosses and more.

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