There are only a handful of places in this world that offer the most spectacular wildlife experiences imaginable. A safari in Africa is one. A cruise around the Galapagos Islands is another. But nowhere else boasts true remoteness and splendour quite like a wildlife expedition to Antarctica.
The landscapes of the white continent are the initial source of unrivalled awe encountered in Antarctica, yet it is the wildlife that will forever stay in your memory.
When we travelled to Antarctica with One Ocean Expeditions we knew we were going to experience something magnificent. As one of the last truly wild regions on the planet, it was a destination that enticed more excitement than we had ever felt before.
After the two days spent crossing the Drake Passage we finally made it to the Antarctic Peninsula. From the moment the sun rose over the snow-capped peaks we caught our first glimpse of some of the remarkable species that call Antarctica home – gentoo penguins, minke whales, crabeater seals and countless birds. And that was just the beginning.
For the next 6 days we got up close and personal with the wildlife, and our appreciation for beauty of the animal world has never been the same since.
The world class naturalists, whale specialists and ornithologist onboard with One Ocean Expeditions spent endless hours sharing every piece of information they could about the creatures we were encountering. Their knowledge greatly enhanced our experience with the wildlife in Antarctica, and we can’t thank them enough for this.
It was a trip we will never forget. These are some of our favourite wildlife encounters that we experienced in Antarctica.
Of everything that stands out in our minds, it was this day in the Gerlache Strait, when we were surrounded by a huge pod of humpback whales coming right up to our groups, that is the most memorable. The kayakers were in awe as the whales breached next to them, and we couldn’t believe our eyes as it was happening.
The most common species you’ll likely encounter in the Antarctic Peninsula are the gentoo penguins. They form huge colonies on every cove, island and beach, and are very curious of humans.
A beautiful crabeater seals stretches on a small iceberg on our first day in the Antarctic Peninsula.
4 humpback whales breach at the same time in the Gerlache Strait. A truly phenomenal encounter!
A seal pops his head up to check out a zodiac during a cruise on our first day.
Arguably the ugliest creature in Antarctica, the elephant seal is enormous and can weigh up to 4 tonnes. We found them all over Hannah Cove on Livingstone Island. While we had to keep our distance (they can be quite temperamental), they were still a wonder to see up close.
6 types of penguins live in Antarctica, and while we saw countless gentoos, chinstraps and adelies, we only managed to find two macaroni penguins, with their famous yellow mohawk.
Here one of the macaroni penguins can be found hanging out in a chinstrap penguin colony.
A leopard seal takes a break on a floating piece of ice. We were so happy to see one of these amazing creatures during our time in Antarctica.
A gentoo penguin feeds its young in the Antarctic Peninsula.
While the seals tended to rest and relax on the shore, in the water they were extremely playful and curious.
When you do zodiac cruises or go sea kayaking in Antarctica you have the great perspective of seeing the penguins up close from the sea.
A humpback whale spy hops next to a group of kayakers in the Gerlache Strait. Whales do this to have a look at what is above the surface.
There is such an abundance of wildlife in Antarctica that species peacefully co-exist. While the elephant seals slept, the gentoo penguins wandered around carefree.
One creature we didn’t manage to see up close was the incredible orca, but our experience with them was still spectacular. At the end of our most intense day for wildlife encounters, a pod of orcas showed up amongst the humpbacks, crabeater seals and gentoo penguins. They didn’t get close enough to our ship to capture a good photo, but the memory of seeing the majestic killer whales will not be forgotten.
This gentoo chick came running up to us, squawking away. It looked so cute we couldn’t help but snap a picture.
A sea lion gives a big yawn during one of our shore landings.
Two humpbacks breach on either side of these lucky kayakers.
Our trip to Antarctica was made possible thanks to our partnership with One Ocean Expeditions. All thoughts, opinions and close encounters with humpback whales are, as always, our own.
Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award winning writers and photographers behind this blog, and we have been travelling the world together since 2008. Adventure travel is our passion, and through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook
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