Early Season Antarctica: Unreal Vistas, Superb Savings
Visiting Antarctica is a rare opportunity in itself, but being among the first to get your boots on the ground early in the season is a truly special experience. As the 7th Continent awakens from its inhospitable, frigid winter nap, thick pack ice begins to melt. That means—for a short time—we’re given access to the spectacularly scenic bays and pristine, alien terrain of the Antarctic Peninsula and outlying islands. Not to mention, access to iconic wildlife who are actively roaming around and easy to spot.
Seabirds swoop low overhead, guiding your small expedition ship between towering icebergs. Their aquamarine hues are most vivid at this time of year, before the southern sun and salty ocean have had a chance to do their weathering work. Here and there, Weddell and fur seals lounge on the ice; a penguin porpoises out of the icy water and toddles up the rock beach. Expedition team members take it all in, ever watchful for the telltale spray of water that will alert you to the presence of humpback, minke, orca or other whales feeding on krill nearby.
This is Antarctica as you might have experienced it eons ago. Untouched and incredibly photogenic, the peninsula is as stark and inhospitable as it is begging to be discovered. Visiting early in the season allows you to get up close and personal with colonies of inquisitive penguins who’ve never known a fear of humans; to take in vast, almost unreal panoramas completely untouched by the influence of man.
As you’re whisked across the water by Zodiac cruiser to the shore, the sheer scale of the mountainous peninsula reminds you of your place in the world. On land, a profound silence envelopes the group. Turning your face to the illogical warmth of the sun, you draw the purest, deepest breath.
There’s much to see and experience onshore! Weddell seals haul out on the beaches to molt and give birth. Penguins are especially active this early in the season, as they go about their courtship and mating rituals.
In small groups, you set off to explore on guided hikes. Some will head off to explore an abandoned whaling station, stepping back for a moment in time to the busiest, most hectic days this part of the world has ever seen. Humans have long since been forgotten; the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration was but a blip in the grand timeline of a region largely unchanged over millions of years.
Another small, guided group takes hold of walking sticks and sets off to hike a challenging, snow-covered incline. Their reward is breathtaking: a bird’s eye view of the whaling station, a small group of kayakers navigating the bay below and beyond, ice-covered peaks as far as the eye can see. Whatever you’ve planned for the evening (camping out for a night on the frozen tundra, perhaps?) seems impossibly far-off; it takes everything you’ve got to simply take in your vast surroundings and savour the moment.
Whether you’re planning your first or fifth trip to Antarctica, there’s never been a better time to make your polar dreams a reality. The summer season is fast approaching and with it comes the Quark Expeditions Cool Summer Sale, offering the greatest value on our most popular early season voyages. Take advantage of savings of up to 40% off select voyages, with perks like free Antarctic camping still available on some departures. Single supplements have been reduced by 50% or even waived entirely on select voyages, while others offer free transfer packages to save you the cost of a hotel and flight.
Be first out of the gate and visit Antarctica early to witness the rousing of the world’s last truly primal, untouched wilderness. Explore Cool Summer Sale offers for Antarctica 2017.18 now and book before August 31, 2017.