Yacht charters are the ultimate adventure. Guests get to explore the hidden corners of the globe, from tranquil and undiscovered beaches in the South Pacific, to fjords and inlets in Alaska.
Yet, of all the yacht charter destinations in the world, Antarctica – believe it or not – is one of the most tranquil and undiscovered.
The ice-capped continent might not seem like the most inviting place for a charter. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Antarctica is stunningly beautiful. Crystalline icebergs and sapphire blue glaciers dot the waterways. And the wildlife – with huge populations of seals, sea birds and whales – is a photographer’s dream.
Not to mention, the serenity is off the charts. Yacht charters in Antarctica provide a chance to completely relax, unplug and explore one of the world’s most remote corners.
Interested in cruising in Antarctica? The destination isn’t nearly as well-know as Caribbean or Mediterranean yachting hubs. But in terms of adventure, natural beauty, and one-of-a-kind experiences, Antarctica provides charter guests with action-packed itineraries in one of the world’s most uniquely beautiful environments.
Getting To Antarctica: What to Expect
Antarctica, and specifically King George Island in the South Shetland archipelago, is surprisingly accessible. In fact, nearly 50 flights travel into King George Island each year.
King George Island and the Antarctic Peninsula are the primary charter hubs, with the majority of traffic traveling through the Chilean base on the island. The island is equipped with a 1600-meter airstrip, and it serves as a hub for travel and charters in the region. Wondering how you’ll get there?
The majority of flights to King George Island originate in Punta Arenas, one of the largest cities in Chile’s Patagonia region. The flight takes two hours, and nearly 50 flights are available each year.
What About the Weather? Most of us assume Antarctica is a harsh environment with nearly inhospitable weather. Yet, for a large part of the year, the weather is cold – but comparatively mild.
Really, there are two seasons in Antarctica, winter and summer, as temperatures hover between freezing and above-freezing. In winter (October to April), the weather is especially cold, with temperatures often below-zero.
During winter, the population drops by half. Most charters, though, take place in summer (October to April). During the summer months, the temperatures hover in the 30s and remain mostly above freezing.
What to Do: Activities for Charter Guests
The majority of the charters explore the South Shetland Islands (including King George, Penguin and Deception islands), as well as the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The region provides truly stunning itineraries, including on-land, wildlife viewing, and cruising explorations. A few of the most common activities include:
- Sea kayaking – The fjords and inlets provide a playground for kayakers.
- Bird watching – Antarctica is home to massive colonies of sea birds and penguins.
- Whale watching – Humpbacks and Minke whales play in the waters around the South Shetland archipelago, but the region is habitat for more than five whale species.
- Snow shoeing & trekking – Take off on an overland hike in the surrounding areas. In fact, most charters include an exploration guide, and you’ll be able to navigate the coves and inlets in a Zodiac tender.
- Photography – The stunning landscapes and wildlife keep photographers busy. From towering icebergs, to incredible astronomy photo opportunities, you’ll want a camera close at hand.
- Museums – Many of the small bases have interesting museums covering the region’s unique history. Plus, you’ll find at least one small pub, small shops and post offices in many of the tiny villages.
Must-See Destinations in Antarctica
Where will you go? From King George Island, your itinerary can take you to a number of one-of-a-kind destinations. From the splendor of Paradise Bay, to the rugged landscapes of Penguin Island, there is plenty to see and do along the way. Some of the top destinations include:
South Shetland Archipelago – Many charters originate in the South Shetland Islands. Many of these islands are ice-free, rich in wildlife, and provide relaxing and tranquil cruising. A few stops might include:
- King George Island – King George Island is the largest in the South Shetland archipelago, and the island is home to many species of seals, including Elephant, Weddell, and Leopard seals. In addition to the Chilean base, the island is also home to about 7 small outposts, with a few interesting museums and shops. Plus, the island provides many harbors and bays to explore, including Admiralty Bay and Fildes Bay.
- Penguin Island – Located off the south coast of King George, Penguin Island is much smaller, with only about 1 square mile of land area. Deacon Peak, an inactive volcano, is the island’s tallest point, and Petrel Crater is a favorite exploration spot (a crater caused by an eruption around 1905). Penguin is well-known for its birdlife. There are 600 pairs of breeding southern giant petrel, as well as numerous gulls, terns and penguins.
- Deception Island – An active caldera, Deception Island is a horseshoe-shaped island and measures 8 miles in diameter. Yacht charters tend to explore Port Foster, the island’s large bay, which happens to be perfectly protected and one of the safest harbors in the region. That makes it ideal for kayaking. Plus, the island is home to 100,000 pairs of breeding chinstrap penguins, one of the world’s largest populations. Thanks to the volcano’s thermal energy, the water temperatures can reach into the 70s, making the bay a popular place for polar plunges.
Antarctic Peninsula – The Peninsula stretches north from the mainland, and twirls its way toward King George Island. Here, you’ll find numerous inlets, glaciers, bergs and islands to explore, including:
- Paradise Bay – Located near Lemaire and Bryde islands, Paradise Bay is a truly stunning destination. Known for its beauty and pristine glaciers and icebergs, the bay is a favorite for kayaking, whale watching and photography.
- Danco Island – Danco Island is located in the Errera Channel, a breathtaking inlet off the Gerlache Strait. The island is absolutely gorgeous, a rugged, ice-capped environment. Many go to Danco to view the Gentoo penguins, there’s a huge population there, and it’s also a favorite trekking spot. The 130-meter peak that towers over the island is a challenging, but rewarding, hike.
- Gerlache Strait – Located further down the peninsula (south of King George Island), Gerlache Strait is a truly majestic place. The strait is home to towering sapphire blue glaciers, and a resident humpback whale population. Charters typically pass through the strait on the way to Paradise Bay, the Lemaire Channel, Port Lockroy, and Petermann Island.
- Cuverville Island – Cuverville is just off Gerlache Strait, and the small island is one of the most abundant in wildlife. The island is home to a large population of Gentoo penguins, as well as an array of Antarctic seal. The calm waters around the island are also a favorite sea-kayaking destination.
- Neko Harbor – This harbor is located on the west coast of Graham Land, and it has a long history. It was initially a whaling hub, and today, whale spotting is one of the harbor’s must-do activities. Minke whales, as well as dolphins and humpbacks populate the waters.
One-of-a-Kind Wildlife Experiences
Antarctica might not offer much in terms of flora – in fact, there are only a few species of moss and lichen that grow here – but you’d be surprised at the variety of wildlife that populate the region.
Seabirds, penguins, whales, dolphins, seals and much more roam the landscape, and that makes Antarctica a favorite destination for animal lovers.
What exactly can you expect to see? There are numerous species found in Antarctica, especially of birds. If you’re a birder, this is a must-visit destination. Plus, there’s always plenty of whales and seals to spot during your charter. Some of the species include:
- Seabirds – Birders love Antarctica, because the continent provides many once-in-a-lifetime viewing experiences. Species like the Antarctic skua, the Wandering albatross, and the snow petrel are found in abundance, as are the giant petrel and blue-eyed shag.
- Penguins – Antarctica is one of the most biologically important environments for penguin. Nearly 10 species populate the islands. Be on the lookout for Emperor, King, Adelie, Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins.
- Whales – Whale watching is a favorite activity in Antarctica, and the region offers a chance to see almost all the major species. Humpback and Minke whales are the most common. But massive blue whales, Right, Sei, Sperm, Bottlenose and Killer whales can also be seen. There are also a few species of dolphin, including the Southern Hourglass dolphin, a beautiful species that almost looks like a killer whale.
- Seals – Antarctica’s resident seal population provides numerous photo-worthy moments and up-close encounters. There are five main species, including Weddell, Southern Fur, Elephant, Crabeater and Leopard seal.
Plan the Ultimate Adventure in Antarctica
Antarctica charters check all the right boxes. They provide guests with unique, truly inspiring experiences. The serenity and tranquility is unrivaled, the wildlife one-of-a-kind, and the adventure can’t be beat.
Bottom line, if you’re looking for a yacht charter destination that will blow you away, Antarctica is it. Let us help you plan your exploration. Contact your broker with Worldwide Boat to learn more about your options in this rugged and beautiful destination.
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