Tours to Antarctica only run during the summer (November to March). After that, the sun is extinguished, the ice pack spreads outward, and a kind of primeval darkness settles over the region, like an impenetrable mantle that only lifts in late September. It’s during this time that temperatures are at their most inhospitable: lows of -80 degrees Fahrenheit are common.
When the sun does reappear, the interval for nature-watching is short, but travelers to the austral region’s ice floes and end-of-the-earth beauty will experience 18- to 24-hour days and temperatures ranging from 5 to 60 degrees, depending on where they go. For those hoping to see Antarctica’s wildlife, every month brings something different, from the penguin mating season in November to the peak whale-watching weeks in late March. Note that if you book a cruise late in the season, the crowds will be smaller, but so will be your chances of seeing the animals, the majority of whom will already have set out for the open ocean.
Whatever you decide, remember that Antarctica is nature at its most savage; therefore protective gear such as waterproof outerwear, sunscreen, dark glasses, and rubber boots is absolutely essential.
Average monthly temperatures (°F) and rainfall (inches) for select locations are shown below.