Rubber boots (provided as a loan by most cruises)
Parka (Water-repellent hooded parka)
Waterproof gloves or mittens
Hat, scarf, or other face protection
Jacket or sweaters
It is best to bring at least one lightweight and one heavy jacket or sweater. Sweatshirts, turtlenecks, and fleece pullovers are also good Insulators. Layering with wool, silk or synthetics fabrics, rather than cotton, is recommended.
Thermal or long underwear
Light-weight shirts and T-shirts
Clothing on board
Comfortable and casual clothing, in the expedition spirit, is recommended for the vessel. Appropriate footwear includes at least one pair of deck-type, rubber-soled shoes.
Sunscreen and lip protection (Minimum SPF 15)
Plastic bags – Plastic zip-lock bags will protect your camera and binoculars from wave splash and spray while in Zodiacs
SEASONS IN ANTARCTICA
Antarctic wildlife is at its most active during the southern summer. The beauty and solitude of Antarctic seas and mountains conceals the frantic activity of the shoreline colonies of birds and mammals. In this five-month period, from late October to March, we operate our expedition cruises. Summer arrives first in the South Shetland Islands and spreads south along the Antarctic Peninsula. As the Antarctic year progresses, from spring to autumn, the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounding islands change in appearance and character each season offering a different range of spectacular sights and possibilities to the visitor.
Late October – December (spring – early summer)
After the winter darkness, spring fever hits Antarctica and the sun causes an explosive growth of phytoplankton in areas of mineral upwelling. The phytoplankton provides food to the astronomic swarms of zooplankton, including krill. Krill forms the base of the food chain for squid, fish and ultimately for seabirds, seals and whales, which flock in to fatten themselves and to produce their young.
Crabeater seals are born between September and November.
Elephant seals guard their harems aggressively until December.
The first big whales come down to Antarctica to feed, among them humpback, Minke and southern right whale.
Amazing displays of the penguins’ courtship ritual, including nest building, sky pointing and stone stealing.
Penguin, petrel and cormorant eggs are laid in November and December.
Penguin chicks start to hatch at the end of December in the South Shetland Islands.
Wintering scientists at the research stations welcome the first visitors of the season.
Longest days in December create longer daylight hours – photographs can be taken at midnight!
Last winters sea-ice offers sometimes spectacular sailing among the floes with seals everywhere on the ice.
January – February (summer)
In Antarctica’s warmest months wildlife activities are in full swing. Most penguin chicks hatch in January, earliest in the South Shetland Islands and later more to the south at the Peninsula. The frantic activity continues in the colonies in February as the young get older and bolder and are gathering in crèches.
Fur seal and leopard seal pups are visible.
Whale watching is at its best in February.
Penguin colonies at their busiest, fetching krill and feeding chicks.
In February receding ice allows exploration further south along the Antarctic Peninsula.
Concentration of fur seals increases.
Nightly darkness returns as the sun sinks farther below the southern horizon, but temperatures are still above zero, though we may experience a touch of Antarctic winter with night frosts, creating beautiful patterns of thin sea ice on the surface. The snow cover is at its minimum allowing for easy and extensive walks in the South Shetland Islands.
Penguin chicks are in their adolescent state now and quite curious about visitors.
The adult penguins moult and the young go to sea.
Receding ice allows exploration farthest south along the Antarctic Peninsula.
Spectacular green and pink algae blooms on snow-slopes and ice cliffs.
Whale watching is still very good.
In Falkland Islands and South Georgia spring and summer arrive earlier than in the South Shetlands & the Antarctic Peninsula and consequently the breeding activities of sea-birds and sea mammals start earlier there. South Georgia is home to several birds with a cycle longer than one year, so eggs and young in King Penguin colonies can always be found from November to March. November is full spring in South Georgia, comparable with December in the South Shetlands, but without sea-ice.
IAATO VISITOR GUIDELINES
Visitor Guidelines Recommendation XVIII-1
Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic
Recommendation XVIII-1, adopted at The Antarctic Treaty meeting, Kyoto, 1994
Activities in the Antarctic are governed by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and associated agreements, referred to collectively as the Antarctic Treaty System. The Treaty established Antarctica as a zone of peace and science.
In 1991, the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties adopted the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, which designates the Antarctic as a natural reserve. The Protocol sets out environmental principles, procedures and obligations for the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment, and its dependent and associated ecosystems. The Consultative Parties have agreed that as far as possible and in accordance with their legal system, the provisions of the Protocol should be applied as appropriate. The Environmental Protocol was ratified in January 1998.
The Environmental Protocol applies to tourism and non-governmental activities, as well as governmental activities in the Antarctic Treaty Area. It is intended to ensure that these activities, do not have adverse impacts on the Antarctic environment, or on its scientific and aesthetic values.
This Guidance for Visitors to the Antarctic is intended to ensure that all visitors are aware of, and are therefore able to comply with, the Treaty and the Protocol. Visitors are, of course, bound by national laws and regulations applicable to activities in the Antarctic.
Protect Antarctic Wildlife
Taking or harmful interference with Antarctic wildlife is prohibited except in accordance with a permit issued by a national authority.
Do not use aircraft, vessels, small boats, or other means of transport in ways that disturb wildlife, either at sea or on land.
Do not feed, touch, or handle birds or seals, or approach or photograph them in ways that cause them to alter their behavior. Special care is needed when animals are breeding or molting.
Do not damage plants, for example by walking, driving, or landing on extensive moss beds or lichen-covered scree slopes.
Do not use guns or explosives. Keep noise to the minimum to avoid frightening wildlife.
Do not bring non-native plants or animals into the Antarctic, such as live poultry, pet dogs and cats, or house plants.
Respect Protected Areas
A variety of areas in the Antarctic have been afforded special protection because of their particular ecological, scientific, historic, or other values. Entry into certain areas may be prohibited except in accordance with a permit issued by an appropriate national authority.
Activities in and near designated Historic Sites and Monuments and certain other areas may be subject to special restrictions.
Know the locations of areas that have been afforded special protection and any restrictions regarding entry and activities that can be carried out in and near them.
Observe applicable restrictions.
Do not damage, remove, or destroy Historic Sites or Monuments or any artifacts associated with them.
Respect Scientific Research
Do not interfere with scientific research, facilities or equipment.
Obtain permission before visiting Antarctic science and support facilities; reconfirm arrangements 24-72 hours before arrival; and comply with the rules regarding such visits.
Do not interfere with, or remove, scientific equipment or marker posts, and do not disturb experimental study sites, field camps, or supplies.
Be prepared for severe and changeable weather and ensure that your equipment and clothing meet Antarctic standards. Remember that the Antarctic environment is inhospitable, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous.
Know your capabilities and the dangers posed by the Antarctic environment, and act accordingly. Plan activities with safety in mind at all times.
Keep a safe distance from all wildlife, both on land and at sea.
Take note of, and act on, the advice and instructions from your leaders; do not stray from your group.
Do not walk onto glaciers or large snow fields without the proper equipment and experience; there is a real danger of falling into hidden crevasses.
Do not expect a rescue service. Self-sufficiency is increased and risks reduced by sound planning, quality equipment, and trained personnel.
Do not enter emergency refuges (except in emergencies). If you use equipment or food from a refuge, inform the nearest research station or national authority once the emergency is over.
Respect any smoking restrictions, particularly around buildings, and take great care to safeguard against the danger of fire. This is a real hazard in the dry environment of Antarctica.
Keep Antarctica Pristine
Antarctica remains relatively pristine, the largest wilderness area on Earth. It has not yet been subjected to large-scale human perturbations. Please keep it that way.
Do not dispose of litter or garbage on land. Open burning is prohibited.
Do not disturb or pollute lakes or streams. Any materials discarded at sea must be disposed of properly.
Do not paint or engrave names or graffiti on rocks or buildings.
Do not collect or take away biological or geological specimens or man-made artifacts as a souvenir, including rocks, bones, eggs, fossils, and parts or contents of buildings.
Do not deface or vandalize buildings or emergency refuges, whether occupied, abandoned, or unoccupied.