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