It’s Like Another Planet.

There’s a pure, stark beauty in Antarctica, and a sense of remoteness so extreme, it’s as if you’ve traveled to another Earth than the one you thought you knew.

Intimate Access to the Extreme

A journey to Antarctica is in its own category, and we’re committed to making it a trip of a lifetime.

The Origins of Antarctica

About 250 million years ago Antarctica was located in the subtropical band of the planet, covered with abundant forests and inhabited by reptiles and amphibians. At this time it was part of the supercontinent of Gondwana, from which it permanently separated 65 million years ago and began to drift towards the South Pole. Its gradual cooling set the stage for the formation of the ice, making it the most extreme and inaccessible land in the world. 

The Antarctic ecosystem is the result of long and complex evolutionary processes that have allowed life forms to adapt to the extreme polar environment, producing a system composed of a limited number of species that depend directly on each other and the habitat in which they live.

Today, the Antarctic continent, without doubt, is the most mysterious place on the planet. Its permanent ice sheet covering and almost completely hiding its topography. An ecological wonder it has bewitched explorers, scientists and voyagers alike for centuries.

Classic Antarctica itinerary map
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    Climate

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    Discovery

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    Geography

Wildlife in Antarctica

Penguins

Whales

Seals

Seabirds

Adelie Penguin

The Adelie is the archetypical penguin, named after French explorer Dumont D’Urville’s wife. They are purely black and white, with a characteristic angular head, a distinctive white eye-ring and a tiny bill. Females are smaller in size, but like all penguins, the sexes are alike. The downy chick is uniformly grey.

Chinstrap Pengin

Chinstraps are similar to Adelies in that they are black and white, but they are slightly smaller and have a distinctive black line connecting the black cap to the part below the chin. The chicks are uniform brownish-grey and paler below. On average, the female’s flipper and bill length is smaller than the male’s. They are highly gregarious and monogamous. It is believed they form long-lasting bonds with their mates. They nest in the Antarctic Peninsula area and on Subantarctic Islands. Their population is estimated in 7.5 million pairs, being the second largest of Antarctic inhabitants after the gentoo penguins.

King Penguin

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Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo Penguin
Gentoo is the largest of all Pygoscelis penguins. It can be easily recognized by the wide white stripe extending like a bonnet across the top of its head and the red bill. Chicks have grey backs with white fronts. They are the fastest underwater swimming penguins, reaching speeds of 36 km/h. They feed mainly on krill, but also on fish and squid. They are the most numerous penguins nesting in the Antarctic region.

Macaroni Penguin

This beautiful penguin has a characteristic orange tassels meeting between the eyes that distinguishes this species from its slightly smaller relative, the rockhopper penguin. Macaronis nest mainly on Subantarctic islands close to the Antarctic Convergence, and may reach as far south as the Antarctic Peninsula. They lay two eggs at the end of the Austral autumn, the first being larger than the second. Chicks are uniform brownish-grey above and whitish below.

Orca Whale

The orca is the largest member of the dolphin family, and it is probably the most easily recognized of all cetaceans. The most obvious feature is the enormous dorsal fin, which is the tallest and most pointed of any cetaceans. In adult males, it may stand two metres in height, while in females and immature males it is more curved and smaller. They have a striking black and white pattern from throat to abdomen, some of their flanks, and an oval blaze behind the eye white, with the rest mainly black. The huge conical head is pointed with a very slightly rounded beak. Males can reach 7 to 9 metres in length and weigh 3.8 to 5.5 tonnes. Females are noticeably smaller in overall body size, reaching 5 to 7.7 metres length.

Humpback Whale

Humpbacks may be recognized by their enormous flippers, which can reach a third of their total body length. They are normally black, but the undersides of flippers and flukes have varying amounts of white and can be used as aids for individual recognition. They measure 11 to 19 metres and weigh 25.4-35.5 tonnes. Males are usually slightly shorter than females.

Minke Whale

The southern minke whale is a species of minke whale within the suborder of baleen whales. It is the third smallest baleen whale. While it was first scientifically described in the mid-19th century, it wasn’t recognized as a distinct species until the 1990s. Given that it was ignored by the whaling industry due to its small size and low oil yield, the southern minke was able to avoid the fate of other baleen whales and maintained a large population into the 21st century, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. It has survived to become the most abundant baleen whale in the world.

Elephant Seal

The southern elephant seal is the world’s largest seal. It is a heavy-built, long-body seal with proportionately small flippers and some skin folds just behind the head. The dark eyes are large and round. The adults have short stiff hair, usually dark grey dorsally and paler ventrally. Males have squarer and larger heads, with a conspicuous proboscis, while females have more rounded heads with no proboscis. Breeding males may weigh up to a sixth that of a breeding female. Males can grow to 4.5-6.5 metres and 3,700 kg; females can grow to 2.5-4 metres and between 360-800 kg.

Leopard Seal

These seals have long slim bodies, with an almost serpentine appearance and comparatively large reptilian heads with a long snout, powerful jaws, broad gape and relatively small dark eyes. Fore flippers are rather large, situated near the centre of the body. They are colored with dark on the back, almost black or blue–grey on the flanks, and paler ventral colouration; a light area variably spotted with darker grey. They have very long canine teeth, with long pointed cusps on the molar teeth. Females are larger than males (3.8 metres and 500 kg compared to 2.8-3.8 metres and 300 kg).

Crabeater Seal

They are relatively slim and flexible, typically with an elongated, square-shaped head, protruding dog-like snout, a long mouth opening and large flippers. Their eyes are dark and small. Their colouration is predominantly dark brown dorsally becoming blond ventrally, with a marked seasonal and individual variation in coat colour. With age, fur gradually becomes uniformly blond after moult. Many are deeply scarred on the back and body-sides due to attacks by leopard seals and killer whales. Crabeaters actually eat krill, not crabs, as their name suggests. Males reach about 3 metres in length and females are slightly smaller. They can weigh between 180 to 410 kg.

Weddell Seal

This seal species was not discovered until 1823 when Captain James Weddell captured six specimens during his voyage to the South Pole. They are amongst the largest and fattest seals, with proportionately small flippers and heads, and large dark eyes. Both sexes are similar in size and appearance, but females are generally slightly larger, and males have thicker necks and broader heads. They reach 2.5-3 metres and weigh between 400-600 kg. They have a short, dense coat of a dark bluish-grey colour, which is irregularly streaked. They can become browner prior to moult.

Blue-Eyed Shag

There is no clear agreement on how many species of cormorants inhabit the southern islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. There could be as many as seven or as few as two surrounding Antarctica, depending on what taxonomic diversity they have. All are reasonably similar, but the Antarctic shag is unmistakable in range, because no other blue-eyed shag overlaps with it. They are rather large and have a black and white shag, with a bright blue-eyed ring, with a long wispy black erectile crest.
Size 77 cm
Wing 32-33 cm
Weight 2.5-3 kg

Snowy Sheathbill

The snowy sheathbill is a medium-sized, plump hen-like, all-white bird. They are not seabirds because, for example, their feet are not webbed, but are in their own family akin to waders. They cannot be mistaken for anything else as they strut and squabble around penguin colonies. They have elaborate courtship displays and are monogamous and permanently pair-bonded species. They feed on intertidal life and on invertebrates.
Size 34-40 cm
Wingspan 70 cm
Weight 400-700 gr.
Size 77 cm
Wing 32-33 cm
Weight 2.5-3 kg

Southern Giant Petrel

Giant petrels are the largest of the petrel family, which make up the order of tubenose or procellariiform seabirds, along with albatrosses, shearwaters, storm petrels and diving petrels. The crucial feature used to distinguish the northern giant petrel from the closely related southern giant petrel is the colour of the bill tip: reddish-brown in the northern, and greenish in the southern. This characteristic is not always easy to spot at sea. Some southerns are all white, except for the odd dark feathers. This colour phase does not occur in northerns, helping with specific identification. White phase southerns are more common at southerly breeding sites, and are absent at the northerly ones.
Size 85-100 cm
Wing 46-58 cm
Wingspan 150-210 cm
Weight 3.8-5 kg
Size 77 cm
Wing 32-33 cm
Weight 2.5-3 kg

Polar Skua

The polar skua is able to fly furthest south of all other Antarctic birds. It is light brown in colour with a yellow neck. While flying, you can see a lighter band that crosses the lower surface of the wings. It has a dark beak, which is curved at the end. Feet are dark grey and almost black.
Size 85-100 cm
Wing 46-58 cm
Wingspan 150-210 cm
Weight 3.8-5 kg
Size 77 cm
Wing 32-33 cm
Weight 2.5-3 kg

Wandering Albatross

The wandering albatross is the largest bird of the Southern Ocean. In all stages, adult birds appear very white on the body and upper wings, becoming even pure white with age. They have dark vermiculations on the body and upper wings. Juveniles have long wings and a long body; overall blackish chocolate-brown, but contrasting white face from forehead to upper foreneck, and white underwing.
Size 110-135 cm
Wing 62-79 cm
Wingspan 250-350 cm
Weight 6.3-11.3 kg

Black-Browed Albatross

The black-browed albatross is one of the smaller black and white ‘mollymawks’ with a pale head. This albatross can be identified at a distance by its underwing pattern featuring a wide dark leading edge. At close range, the adult birds have a yellow eye that makes identification easy.
Size 80-96 cm
Wing 50-56 cm
Wingspan 210-250 cm
Weight 2.9 to 4.6 kg

Cape or Pintado Petrel

The cape petrel is an unmistakable medium-sized petrel, with round head and highly distinctive black and white upper parts and upper wings, smaller than the Antarctic petrel. Its speckled appearance has earned its other common name, pintado, which means ‘painted’ in Spanish. The cape petrel has a circumpolar distribution at sea. It has a wide breeding range from the Antarctic continent to the more southerly Subantarctic islands, where it breeds in November and December in loose colonies on level rocky grounds or gravel, and moderately high cliffs.
Size 35-42 cm
Wing 24-28 cm
Wingspan 80-91 cm
Weight 440-500 gr.
Size 85-100 cm
Wing 46-58 cm
Wingspan 150-210 cm
Weight 3.8-5 kg

Sites of Interest

Natural Wonders

A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21

Historic Sites

A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21

Wildlife Colonies

A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21
A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21
A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21
A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21
A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21
A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21
A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21
A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21
A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21
A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21

Aitcho Island

This island is located near the north entrance of the English Strait, in the South Shetland Islands, between Greenwich and Robert Islands. The main attractions here are the large colonies of chinstrap and gentoo penguins that cover the area. It is also possible to find great quantities of Antarctic giant petrels and some protected animals, such as the Weddell seal.

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Cuverville Island

Upon arrival, you will find yourself on a small island dominated by a great amount of lichen growth and deep moss on the rocks, the only botanical species that you can find on the surface of Antarctica. As part of the scenery, you will see various birds, such as Wilson petrel, south and brown skuas, as well as one of the largest colonies of gentoo penguins.

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Petermann Island

This island is endowed with a unique beauty, due to its immense granite walls and the abundant snow that composes the scenery. It also has the largest and southernmost colony of Adelie and gentoo penguins, migratory species typical of Antarctica. On Petermann Island, you will be able to see a colony of Antarctic blue-eyed shag, a species much appreciated for its solemn stance and singular presence. During the summer, elephant seals come out in groups to enjoy the sun, basking on their sides atop the rocks of the island.

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Lemaire Channel

Known for being one of the most beautiful spots in the area and this is why it is also known as the “Kodak Gap,” due to the impression it produces among the tourists, making them take innumerable photographs of nature at its best.

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Paradise Bay

From Paradise Bay you will be able to enjoy one of the most magnificent views that the Antarctic territory has to offer.

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Livingston

The South Shetland Islands are an archipelago located in the South Antarctic Ocean, and north of the great Antarctic Peninsula, as part of the highest, driest and coldest continent on the planet. The beauty of this remote destination is created by its imposing glaciers, magnificent channels and the impressive fauna that inhabits the area. Livingston Island is a surprising spot where you will find a great variety of species. Your attention will be captivated by chinstrap, gentoo and the magnificent macaroni penguins, with their distinctive orange/yellow crests. Elephant seals, Antarctic giant petrels and snowy sheathbill are also to be seen.

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Half-Moon

The volcanic origin of this island gives it a very particular surface formation. Here, you will find chinstrap and gentoo penguins, Antarctic blue-eyed shags and skuas. In this area, you may find the distinguished-looking Weddell seal and some elephant seals that occasionally visit the island.

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Deception Island

An impressive volcano, still considered active and famous for its incomplete crater which is at sea level. Sailing and walking in this zone can be a fabulous experience. One of the greatest attractions of this island is the sequence  of rock towers that come out of the sea. This amazing geological formation is known as “Neptune’s Bellows.” In this outstanding place, that’s shaped like a horseshoe, the coastal waters can get close to 65°C (149°F) due to the volcanic presence, in contrast with the freezing surrounding waters in this corner of the world. Here, you will also visit Whalers Bay, where you can see the remains of a former whaling station.

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Port Lockroy

A wide bay located on the southwestern point of Wiencke Island, this site was used by whalers almost one century ago. There is an old British scientific base which is now a museum. Nowadays, it is not unusual to see minke and humpback whales cruising along the coast.

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King George Island

A Brand New Journey: ANTARCTICA XXI becomes Antarctica21

Vernadsky Station

Aitcho Island

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Petermann Island

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Cuverville Island

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Find an Expedition to Antarctica

Image of Expedition Antarctica and South Georgia Air Cruise

Antarctica and South Georgia Air Cruise

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Antarctica Express Air Cruise

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Classic Antarctica

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Polar Circle

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