Winter is reaching its zenith in the Gulf and soon the heat will swarm in once again in all its blazing glory. So what better way to beat one extreme than to pay a visit to another?
Discover the World's expedition cruises to Antarctica are run by two very experienced specialist companies: Quark Expeditions and Oceanwide Expeditions.
For half the year, Antarctica is immersed in darkness. It is a land that has recorded some of the world's lowest temperatures; a land that has claimed the lives of many a brave explorer. It is also the windiest and driest place in the world.
On a typical voyage to Antarctica one can expect to visit enormous rookeries of gentoo, chinstrap and Adelie penguins, while King and macaroni penguins feature on certain itineraries.
Five seal species - the Antarctic fur seal, Weddell seal, elephant seal, leopard seal and crabeater seal are regularly seen on expedition cruises, most often hauled out on ice floes or early in the season at their breeding sites.
Fin and sei whales occasionally turn up, but the more numerous minke whale is more likely to be encountered near the pack ice. Other species found in Antarctic waters include the killer whale, sperm whales and southern right whales.
Antarctic Peninsula & Southern Shetland Islands (11 or 12 days)
This adventure cruise offers an introduction to the wildlife and stunning scenery of the continent. It departs and finishes in the port of Ushuaia, Argentina.
Highlights: Sea Kayaking, there will be a minimum of two days kayaking during the voyage. Scuba Diving, those wishing to dive with Dive Masters must be certified to PADI Advanced Open Water diver (or equivalent) and must also have dry suit diving experience. There will be a minimum of three dives during the voyage.
Departure Dates: November 27, 28; December 6, 7, 13, 16, 25; February 11, 20.
Price: From £1701 to £5522
Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica (20 days)
This voyage takes place during the height of the Austral summer, focusing on Antarctica and the wildlife sanctuaries of the sub-Antarctic islands.
Highlights: Falkland Islands are renowned for their wildlife. Nearby New Island boasts impressive rockhopper penguin rookeries. South Georgia has awe-inspiring scenery and 7,000 foot mountains. It also features large king penguin rookeries. Land on Elephant Island where Shackleton's men found refuge after their ship sank.
Departure Dates: November 10; January 4, 13, 21; February 21, 28, 29.
Price: From £3503 to £9345.
THE GREAT EXPLORERS' CRUISE
Follow the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott (25 days)
This expedition focuses on celebrated sites form the age of exploration. Explore sites where Scott and Shackleton staged their polar expeditions.
Highlights: Macquarie Island, Balleny Islands, Cape Adare, Ross Sea, Campbell Island, Enderby Island.
Departure Date: January 19
LORDS OF ANTARCTICA
Emperor Penguin adventure
Experience an emperor penguin rookery. The largest of the penguins, emperors are the only birds that breed on the frozen sea.
Highlight: Victoria Land and the Transantarctic mountains.
Departure Date: December 2
Price includes: Voyage aboard vessel, accommodation on full-board basis aboard ship and one night on a bed and breakfast in hotel at selected site, all shore excursions and activities, programme of lectures, transfers and baggage handling between hotel and ship, taxes and port charges, comprehensive pre-departure material.
See www.discover-the-world.co.uk for more information and registration.
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