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|Antarctic Classic Wildlife: Peninsula & Islands|
A voyage to Antarctica is a true wilderness and wildlife journey of a lifetime. Whilst the Great White Continent may be vast and difficult to explore in its entirety, the Antarctic Peninsula is scenically the most dramatic region and provides the greatest diversity of wildlife.
Geologically, the Peninsula is a mountainous extension of the South American Andes, forming a coastal spine of mountains whose peaks rise 3,000 metres from the ocean. Its coastal mountain scenery is flanked by breathtaking glaciers, deep fjords and ice bergs more than a mile long - an environment that will humble the most seasoned explorer.
The icy oceans are a rich feeding ground for whales including orcas, humpbacks, blue and sperm whales. On some voyages our guests have been spellbound by more than 200 whales around the ship at one time. The Peninsula is also a breeding ground for macaroni, chinstrap and gentoo penguin colonies, inviting great opportunities for their close observation.
Seals can be found in large numbers on the Peninsula, of which crab eater seals are the most abundant and Weddell seals are visually the most attractive with their spotted coats. The largest seal is the Leopard Seal, which at up to 3.2 metres in length, is one of two top predators in Antarctica. Our marine experts will be trying to spot one of these seals floating in wait close to a penguin diving in point. We are sometimes able to see them tossing an unfortunate penguin into the air. Our team has also photographed and filmed them beneath the water, skinning their prey before eating them. They always leave the feet!
The climate on the Peninsula is more favourable than the inner continent, so flora including lichens, mosses and algae make their debut on terra-firma. Overall the majority of Antarctica is covered by permanent ice and snow leaving less than 1% available for colonization by plants.
Our Antarctic Peninsula Voyages operate throughout the southern summer November to March. Carrying between 12 and 114 passengers, our voyages are onboard some of the smallest and friendliest ships exploring the Antarctic waters. Each vessel is open to all, including the decks at all levels and the panoramic ship's bridge from which there are excellent view points.
Each ship carries a full complement of Zodiac craft (rigid inflatables boats), which are excellent for small group expert-lead landings with the opportunity for close encounters with wildlife. There is a natural history library onboard and a programme of inspiring evening lectures on subjects such as Antarctic explorers and history, wildlife, conservation, birdlife and birdwatching. Where possible, we will also land at a research station where you can see how researchers live and learn about the research they are undertaking.
Polar guides onboard are some of the most experienced available, with specialist knowledge on certain trips which enable us to operate polar photography workshops onboard, and unique experiences such as camping out on the ice, sea kayaking and snow shoe walking. If these activities are of interest to you, please contact us to speak to one of our polar experts or polar guides.
Whilst we offer our voyages as stand alone experiences, we are a fully bonded travel company able to provide flights and accommodation before and after your voyage. For those travelling to Antarctica, we are a specialist at tailor made and small group travel within Argentina and other parts of Latin America.
Our Antarctic Peninsula wilderness voyages are one of the most memorable holidays you are ever likely to experience. They are also a major undertaking for most travelers, which is why we provide detailed information throughout the booking and preparation process. We are also on hand to answer any questions you have and provide 24 hour support for clients who are travelling.
Some Specialist Leaders in 2012 & 2013
Photographs kindly provided by: Franco Banfi, Rinnie Van Meurs, Chloe Burnett, Keith Hiscock, Charlotte Caffrey & Göran Ehlmé
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