Antarctic Circle Tours

Antarctic Circle travel gives you the opportunity to cross the most southerly point reached by Antarctic cruises, joining a select group of travellers and adventures who have journeyed and explored this far south. Follow in the wake of Captain James Cook, one of the first explorers to cross the Antarctic Polar Circle as you set sail on an Antarctic Circle cruise bound for a latitude of 66° 33’ south.
 
Antarctica is the southernmost continent and the world’s final frontier. The frozen landscape is formidable, with towering rock faces, snow-capped peaks, mountains, glaciers and immense, imposing icebergs. A true immersion into Antarctica will see you crossing the Antarctic Circle to the region officially known as ‘The Antarctic’, a place where a mid-summer day lasts 24 hours. As your Antarctic Circle cruise threads its way through the icy waterways, you will be in awe of the spectacular scenery that surrounds you. The land is dotted with numerous penguin and seal colonies, orcas and leopard seals patrol the waters and snow petrels soar above. You will be mesmerized not only by the landscape but also by the wildlife.
 
So why not go beyond the Antarctic Peninsula on an Antarctic Circle cruise, crossing the Circle to the home of the midnight sun, desolate but beautiful landscapes, shifting ice and Weddell seals, to a place that few have been?  
 

'The expedition crew were very knowledgable and all the ships staff were fantastic. We crossed the Antarctic circle and went the furthest south the ship had been thanks to the great skills of the captain. I loved this trip! Penguins, seals, orca whales, wildlife in abundance!!' - Corinne

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Be one of the few adventurous travellers to cross the Polar Circle on this expedition to Antarctica. Witness impressive icebergs & legendary wildlife.

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Go further south and cross into the Antarctic Circle. Go beyond the normal Antarctica tour areas.

Antarctic Circle Tours

Articles On Antarctic Circle

Beyond the Ice: Highlights of an Antarctic Circle Expedition

Posted on Tue, 02 Aug 2016

Heading on an unforgettable expedition to the White Continent…or wishing you were? Here are the Highlights of an Antarctic Circle Expedition, where the excitement starts before you even cast off. An expedition to the Antarctic Circle is the one bucket-list adventure most intrepid travellers dream about for years. To venture beyond the frozen frontier is a breathtaking experience, one which …

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Antarctic Circle Reviews

All Chimu Adventures' clients are given the opportunity to review their trip once they return home. These reviews are administered by a third party and as such are unfiltered by Chimu Adventures.

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing trip for a first time overseas traveller The whole trip from start to finish was well organised. Every transfer was on time and the staff on the MV Ushuaia were all skilled and willing to assist in any way possible to ensure our trip was the best it could be. The food that came out of the small galley was well prepared and fresh. Vegetarians were also well looked after. There was only one choice for each meal, but this is to be expected with limited supplies able to be carried on board. I'm still trying to find the right words to explain Antarctica itself. It embodies the true meaning of "awesome" as we were truly in awe of the pristine beauty & wildness.
Date published: 2015-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A trip out of this world 10 days trip to Antarctic Peninsular. A bit shaky across the Drake Passage, as was expected, otherwise a beautiful sailing between the islands and icebergs. Lots of landings to see the native inhabitants with hundreds of Penguins, also Wales, Seals, Birds and Orcas. The staff on board were terrific and so helpful. The food was enough with a good breakfast and two 3 coarse meals (lunch and dinner) with fruit and afternoon snacks available. The cooking was a bit plain at times but still eatable. All in all, a terrific trip, quiet unforgettable.
Date published: 2015-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Voyage of a lifetime This journey was exceptional. All that was arranged just fell into place. Hotel accommodation went smoothly and location perfect. The voyage itself was exceptional from the friendliness and professionalism of the crew to the ships accommodation and facilities, the expedition itinerary could not be faulted. I would highly recommend the MS Expedition and will sail with them again.Also I will not hesitate to use Chimu Adventure for future travel
Date published: 2015-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fab kayaking This was not my choice of holiday, but it has been on my husband's shortlist since he was a boy. He had a great time. It was pretty much as I expected and planned for, but the kayaking was fabulous. I might have gone stir crazy without the opportunity to get away from the crowd and to be almost alone in tne splendour. The trip cost a lot of money, but it was extremely well planned and run, and not expensive. Please not that gender is a social construct and not a biological fact.
Date published: 2015-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply Incredible Antarctica Antarctica has been on my bucket list for decades, and I decided early last year that it was time for me to to take the plunge and go on this incredible journey. Having recently lost my wife to cancer, I was thrilled to see this trip with Chimu Adventures raising money for Breast Cancer care. After looking at several companies and many different ships, I called up Chimu and received incredible service from the word go. Nothing was too much effort and the whole process was made very easy. I undertook a 4 week trip with Chimu Adventures including a side visit to Peru and Argentina. Everything was faultless. Antarctica was the crowning glory - simply majestic. I cannot put into words the impact it had on me. Thank you Chimu for a wonderful voyage superbly hosted by Greg Carter. I'll be back when I save some more pennies!
Date published: 2016-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Once in a Lifetime Best adventure ever! The staff were incredible, so helpful and knowledgeable, they went beyond expectations to make our cruise one in a million. Polar Pioneer was the perfect size for what was needed to cruise into the Antarctic Circle. We even did the Polar Plunge and have the T-shirt and certificate to prove it. The BBQ out on deck with Mulled Wine was great fun. Food was plentiful and tasty.
Date published: 2016-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous trip from start to finish! I sailed with GAdventures on the MS Expedition from Montevideo to the Falklands, then to South Georgia and on to the Antarctic Peninsula. It was a wonderful trip. I had high expectations, and they were not just met, but exceeded in every regard. The expedition team were experts in their fields, and their enthusiasm was evident throughout our amazing journey.
Date published: 2015-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greatest vacation so far We lost one day becouse one of ships engine was broken, so embark was delayed fo 24h, but we get refund, one night at hotel and some trips during those 24h. otherwise tour was excellent. CEO changed intinerary plan so we headed to polar circle first to be sure we can go through in time. if something didnt match itinerary, it was only becouse of weather or danger. Crew and CEO was group of fantastic people and thansk to them, this trip was double so awsome :)
Date published: 2015-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best trip ever! The expedition crew did everything they could to organise landings In a variety of settings and were able to adapt their plans due to any changes in weather. The expedition crew were very knowledgable and all the ships staff were fantastic. We crossed the Antarctic circle and went the furthest south the ship had been thanks to the great skills of the captain. I loved this trip! Penguins, seals, orca whales, wildlife in abundance!!
Date published: 2016-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More than I could have hoped Everything about the trip was fantastic. I have no complaints whatsoever. I would recommend the Sea Adventurer as a perfect ship for adventure/expedition travel because of the two public decks surrounding the ship.
Date published: 2015-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Awesome! We had a wonderful expedition to Antarctica - but have to add that the weather was perfect which made the entire trip ideal. The Drake Passage crossing (both ways) was without incident (noted as the Drake Lake). Landed nine times on the Antarctic continent, which is about the most one could expect. The MS Expedition staff (headed by John) were exceptional and the ship's crew superb. Without a doubt, a trip of a lifetime!!
Date published: 2015-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Antarctica The entire trip was wonderful. It was a joy to see all the different penguins, sea birds, and seals, as well as experience the walking on the ice and snow. The icebergs were spectacular, both in shape and colour.
Date published: 2014-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic South Georgia and Antarctica Brilliant holiday. Budget hotels in Buenos Aires and Ushuaia booked by Chimu were excellent. Weather not all that good but the crew of the Ushuaia were really good and did all they could so that we could have the best in landings that were possible. All travel arranged by ourselves went well and the transfers arranged by Chimu were equally good and drivers were good too! The ship is quite basic so do not expect a cruise ship!
Date published: 2015-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing adventure to the White Continent This was an incredible 11 day 'Images of Antarctica' adventure. Despite the Drake Passage taking it's toll on many, this trip is incredibly worthwhile, if you have the money! The weather was good about half of the time that we were in Antarctica, if it had been miserable weather the whole time it would have been disappointing (not the cruise's fault of course!), but as it was, we got to see the very best (beautiful blue skies, bright white snow and humpback whales) and maybe not quite the worst (-45 degrees with wind chill factor!). Overall I think this enhanced the experience, as we got to see Antarctica for what it really is, completely wild. All of the staff on board were wonderful, funny and warm. I enjoyed the lectures, which gave a greater insight into what we were seeing on land.
Date published: 2016-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow ! Antarctica was everything we dreamed of and more. We took part in an expedition on the MV Ushuaia, and found the ship perfect for our needs. Plenty of space onboard to see wildlife from the decks, and a very informative guide in Augustin. We hope to go back and explore South Georgia in a few years time. We hear the wildlife is even more spectacular (if possible) there!. Thanks again, and hope this review is of use!
Date published: 2014-08-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Antarctica with G Adventures G Adventures run ship MS Expedition. All run very smoothly, excellent attention to detail. Flexible destinations regarding weather conditions. Very good attention to environmental issues. Food too rich, could have had less stodgy desserts and meat was always very rare (ie raw); even vegetables were cooked in a stodgy sauce. However always fresh salad and fruit available.
Date published: 2015-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beyond words The most amazing trip from beginning to end. Chimu did a great job of helping me plan my trip & were available with advice & information. The ship (Akademik Ioffe) was fantastic,the One Ocean expedition team were so helpful & knowledgable as well as fun, the ships crew did a fantastic job, & even the weather was perfect!! Everything went smoothly, & the wildlife & scenery was astonishing, so beautiful.
Date published: 2015-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Trip of a Life Time From departure to arriving back home everything Chimu Adventures organised for us ran like clockwork. The Antarctic was fantastic. So quiet! The ship, crew and meals can not be faulted and we managed two landing per day whilst in the area.
Date published: 2016-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Antarctica The trip to Antarctica on board the Sea Explorer was an unique experience I will never forget! The overnight stays in Buenos Aires incl. the transfers to/from the airport as well as the events to attend a Tango Show and to visit the Fireland National park were very well organised by Agnes Schneider of Chimu Adventures!
Date published: 2015-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful trip All went according to plan and was very well organised by the staff and crew on the ship.
Date published: 2015-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from epic antarctica This was the best group tour I have EVER been on. From contact with Staff at Chimu at time of booking to leaving the ship in Ushuaia at the end of our Journey. I travelled on the MV Ushuaia and ALL the Staff and Crew went 'above and beyond' in making sure everyone had the best time possible. Their commitment to customer service is immeasurable and the Expedition Leaders knowledge, insight and love of Antarctica supported their passion for this wondrous land. This is a journey that will stay with me forever! Thank You, Chimu
Date published: 2017-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Once in a lifetime experience Extremely we'll run cruise, perfect number of passengers and crew
Date published: 2014-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Tour!!! The whole trip was well organized an led us to stunning places! We were able to come really close with the wildlife and learnd a lot about our destinations history, fauna and environment. The days were packed with landings, different activities and lectures, so we were always busy!
Date published: 2015-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Pinktartica Journey Trip of a lifetime is only scratching the surface of what I felt after taking this trip. I was on a 12day trip on the Sea Adventurer that was specially chartered by Chimu for a charity foundation, McGrath Foundation. So not only was it going on a dream trip it was also supporting a great cause. Everything about the trip was amazing, we were lucky enough to have brilliant weather and get to see about everything we possibly could in our 12 day trip. Even when there was a minor issue of communication that originally had me off the list of one of the activities I'd signed up for it was fixed right away and I did not miss out on anything. The expedition crew were all very friendly and knowledgeable and could help answer any questions you had on Antarctica. The crew of the ship were also very friendly and very professional and made the trip easy as could be. The only complaint I can have was it was such a great trip that now it seems hard to be excited about going anywhere else, all I want to do is go on this trip again.
Date published: 2015-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Overwhelmed, emotional and speechless I had 8 flights, along with picks ups, hotels, drop offs, a ship to get to - on time and tours. Every single step of the way went flawlessly, thanks to Chimu and in particular Simon who has infinite patience. I am normally an independent traveller, so found it hard to relinquish control and let Chimu sort everything out. Thanks for indulging my many queries. Perfection!
Date published: 2016-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It was an amazing trip, enjoyed everything. The itinery went smoothly we were picked up dropped off at all the correct times. All chimu staff we met were very good polite and very helpful.
Date published: 2016-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Antarctica expidition The prior planning through Chimu was made very easy with more than enough information supplied and regularily updated to make the process as stress free as possible. Vaule for money with the trip down to Antarctica was brilliant.
Date published: 2014-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a Trip! Every part of the trip on the MS Expedition with G Adventures was run in a most professional manner. The ship was excellent including the size of the cabin; the food was superb and the expedition team were all knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. The on shore visits were well organised and I couldn't have asked for more.
Date published: 2016-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Enjoyable We had a great trip. Very impressed with all the staff and crew on the Ushuaia. They worked hard to make us feel safe and welcome and I enjoyed the lectures. There is only one disappointment and that is that I am unable to access files on the DVD. Can only see the photos and not the itinerary,, maps etc.
Date published: 2016-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Antarctica - Seeing is Believing ! Smaller ship cruising - MV Ushuaia was the way to go, crew was excellent. Organisation and Itinerary was very well done , Other Expeditioners were good to mix with and enjoy the Fantastic Scenery with ! Only thing left to say -- If you havent been there - Go there . Out of this world !
Date published: 2016-06-16
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WHEN TO GO TO THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

As with the entire Antarctic continent, Antarctic Circle travel is only feasible during the southern hemisphere’s summer generally between December and March when the sea ice melts enough to enable access to this southerly point. Access is determined by the weather conditions and it cannot be guaranteed that your vessel will be able to continue this far south.

WEATHER ON THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

Antarctica is a land of extremes - it is the coldest, driest and windiest continent in the world. It is considered a desert as it receives less than 254 millimetres of annual rainfall or precipitation. The interior of Antarctica has an average annual precipitation of only 50 millimetres, whereas along the coast, precipitation rates are much higher, averaging 200 millimetres a year. The continent’s interior is extremely cold with little snowfall. The coldest temperature ever recorded on earth was -89.2°C at Vostok Station. Coastal areas experience milder temperatures with summer temperatures generally reaching a maximum of between 5 and 15°C, with long periods of constant sunlight. In winter, mean temperatures are usually between -10°C and -30°C near the coast, falling to below -60°C on the high interior plateau, with long periods of constant darkness.

WILDLIFE ON THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

Penguins - There are five species of penguin that live on the Antarctic continent - Adélie, emperor, gentoo, chinstrap and macaroni penguins, with only emperor and Adélie penguins making the Antarctic continent their true home, breeding on the shores of the continent and nearby islands. Chinstrap penguins breed on islands around Antarctica whilst gentoo penguins are found on islands ranging from the Antarctic to the sub-Antarctic.

Other Birds - The range of birds found in the Antarctic and flying over Antarctic waters is extensive and every spring, over 100 million birds breed around the Antarctic coastline and offshore islands. These include albatrosses, petrels, skuas, gulls and terns.

Seals - Six different species of seal live in Antarctic waters - Ross, Weddell, crabeater, leopard, fur and elephant seals. The first four are ice specialists that breed on the sea ice in spring. Ross and leopard seals tend to be solitary whereas crabeater and Weddell seals breed in colonies. Elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals are found north of the pack-ice, breeding on beaches in dense colonies. Weddell seals live further south than any other mammal.

Whales - Orcas or killer whales are toothed whales that are common in Antarctic waters. Minke whales are the most adapted of the Antarctic baleen whales to ice. Blue and minke whales venture further into the sea ice than other whales such as humpback and sei and have been seen as far south as 78°S in the Ross Sea.

GEOGRAPHY OF THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE

 The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly of the Earth’s major circles of latitude at approximately 66° 33’ south. The position of the Antarctic Circle is not fixed as it fluctuates with the tilt of the Earth’s axis. The Antarctic region extends from the South Pole to the Antarctic Circle. The zone immediately to the north is known as the Southern Temperate Zone.

The Antarctic Circle is over 17,500 kilometres in length with the area south of the Polar Circle covering 20,000,000 square kilometres and accounting for around 4% of the Earth's surface. The Antarctic continent covers most of the area within the Antarctic Circle.

South of the Antarctic Circle, the sun remains continuously above the horizon for 24 hours at least once per year and below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year. This means that for at least one day a year the sun is visible at midnight and for at least one day a year it is not visible at noon. This is why the Antarctic is known as the “Land of the Midnight Sun”.

HISTORY OF THE ANTARCTIC CIRCLE
  • In the 15th and 16th centuries, the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn proved that “Terra Australis Incognita” (Unknown Southern Land), was a continent in its own right if it existed

  • Captain James Cook and his crew were the first to cross the Antarctic Circle in 1773

  • Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle for the third time in 1774 reaching 71° 10′ south on January 30, the furthest south attained in the 18th century

  • The first confirmed sightings of mainland Antarctica were in 1820

  • Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen’s Russian expedition discovered Peter I Island and Alexander I Island - the first islands to be discovered south of the Antarctic Circle

  • The first undisputed landing on Antarctica was in 1895 at Cape Adair

  • The Belgian Antarctic Expedition led by Gerlache was the first expedition to overwinter within the Antarctic Circle in 1898

  • Sir Douglas Mawson led the first party to reach the South Magnetic Pole during Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1907-9 Nimrod Expedition

  • Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911, following a dramatic race with Englishman Robert Falcon Scott

  • The first successful overland crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole took place in 1958 led by Vivian Fuchs with Edmund Hillary leading the back-up party

FURTHER READING
  • Race for the South Pole by Roland Huntford

  • Douglas Mawson: The Life of an Explorer by Lincoln Hall

  • Scott of the Antarctic by David Crane

  • The Worst Journey in the World: Antarctic Journey 1910-1913 by Apsley Cherry-Garrard

  • The South Pole by Roald Amundsen

  • In Search of the South Pole by Huw Lewis-Jones & Kari Herbert

  • Sir Edmund Hillary: An Extraordinary Life by Alexa Johnston   

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be fit to cross the Antarctic Circle ?

A high level of fitness is not necessary for crossing the Antarctic Circle, but you need to be in good health as although there is generally a doctor on board the ship, you are a long way from any other medical assistance. The majority of activities are focused around shore excursions and Zodiac cruising and so you need to be agile and able-bodied enough to climb into and out of the inflatable Zodiacs from both the ship and the shore. On shore landings you may need to negotiate uneven and slippery ground. Shore excursions generally involve some walking.

Is it safe to travel to the Antarctic Circle?

All of our tours are 100% tried and tested to ensure that when you travel with us, you are doing so in a controlled and safe environment with trained experts. We consistently monitor weather conditions and will always provide you with the best possible adventure without risk of injury to you or the vessel. While some landings and activities may need to be rescheduled or cancelled due to weather, every effort is made to have a contingency plan should such conditions become a reality during your expedition. Chimu have been the experts in Antarctic Circle travel for well over 10 years and use our vast experience and knowledge when picking the vessels we sell to provide you with an adventure that is unforgettable for all the right reasons.

How long does it take to reach the Antarctic Circle?

The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly point reached by Antarctic cruises and Antarctic Circle cruises are generally only a couple of days longer than a standard Antarctic Peninsula itinerary. Most cruises that set sail from Ushuaia explore the Antarctic Peninsula before crossing the Antarctic Circle around day 7, 8 or 9.

What is the Antarctic Circle ?

The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly of the Earth’s major circles or parallels of latitude at approximately 66° 33’ south of the equator. It is an imaginary circle around the Earth parallel to the equator, marking the boundary between the Southern Temperate and Southern Frigid Zones. It also marks the approximate limit south of which the sun remains above the horizon all day on the summer solstice.

How is the Antarctic Circle different to Arctic Circle ?

The Arctic Circle is the Antarctic Circle’s equivalent in the northern hemisphere. Lying within the Antarctic Circle, he Antarctic is a continent surrounded by oceans, 98% of which is covered in the South Polar ice sheet. There are no terrestrial mammals found in the Antarctic, only marine mammals such as whales and seals. The Arctic, however, is an ocean surrounded by landmasses, much of which is tundra and boreal forest. Mammals include polar bears, reindeer and Arctic foxes. There is also a wide variety of plant life that can exist in the Arctic including mosses, lichens and flowering plants. The South Pole is located within the Antarctic Circle and the North Pole within the Arctic Circle.

What is the Polar Circle?

The Polar Circle is either the Antarctic or the Arctic Circle, located at approximately 66° 33’ south and north of the equator respectively.