Travelling to Antarctica offers many possibilities of itineraries. Although most of the trips focus on the Western Peninsula and last roughly ten days, some voyages are extended with the aim of visiting other areas (the Weddell Sea, sub-Antarctic islands, the Ross Sea, etc.) or to travel further south beyond the Antarctic Circle.
What is the Antarctic Circle
The Antarctic Circle is the most southerly of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. More specifically, the Antarctic Circle marks the northernmost latitude in the Southern Hemisphere at which the sun can remain continuously above or below the horizon for 24 hours (during the December and June solstices).
What makes a Circle trip different?
For most of the voyage, you will explore the same area you will see during a “Classic Antarctica” trip, which is the western sector of the Antarctic Peninsula. At some stage, your ship will cross that imaginary line (66°33′46.5″ S) known as the Antarctic Circle. The landscape and wildlife won’t change radically, however, the farther south you go, the more chances you will get to observe sea ice (remaining from the winter).
In my personal experience, I’ve had the fortune to find Emperor penguins in some of the trips crossing the Circle. It’s not guaranteed, but the chance to see an individual or a few of them (colonies are very inaccessible) is higher. Also, by crossing the Circle, you may access some abandoned scientific bases on Detaille or Horseshoe Island.
Above all, the Crossing the Circle trips give you the possibility of going beyond a significant milestone and to extend a Classic Antarctica trip by a few more days. If you have the extra time, you won’t regret it.