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When to Visit Antarctica

What is the Best Time to Visit Antarctica?

When should you visit the Antarctic Peninsula and Sub-Antarctic Islands?  Antarctic wildlife is most active during the Austral summer (November to February). Wildlife are also active in the islands near Antarctica (the Sub-Antarctic Islands) during October and March. These months—October to March—are the ideal time to visit the Antarctic region.  Most cruises operate in Antarctica only during these months.

A small expedition group in a zodiac exploring a glacial arch during a trip to Antarctica

October

Early Austral Spring

  • In the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, summer arrives earlier than in the South Shetlands or the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Seabirds and marine mammals begin mating rituals and breeding on these islands in October.
  • As this is “shoulder season” for Antarctic visitation, landing site cancelations due to sea ice and high winds are more likely.
Two off-white crab eater seals resting on an ice shelf overlooking the arctic ocean, spotted during a wildlife expedition in Antarctica

November & December

(Austral Spring to Early Summer)

  • Landing sites are at their most pristine; snow is still fresh, with little evidence of human visitation.
  • In the Sub-Antarctic islands and on the Antarctic Peninsula, penguins begin mating rituals, nest building, and stone stealing.
  • Penguin, cormorant, and petrel eggs are laid.
  • By the end of December, penguin chicks hatch in the South Shetland Islands.
  • The golden hours of dawn and dusk extend, allowing for spectacular landscape and sea-scape photos long into the night.
  • Some research stations open to visiting guests
  • Crabeater seal pups arrive from September to November. Elephant seals guard their beach territories and harems until December.
  • Weaners (elephant seal pups no longer being fed milk) may approach visitors at landing sites.
  • Large migratory whales (humpbacks, minke, and southern right whales) arrive during these months.
  • The winter sea-ice breaks up, allowing navigation between ice floes.
  • During November, landing site cancelations due to sea ice and high winds are more likely.
Group of Antarctic Birds and Penguins on a cluster of rocks by the Antarctic Ocean

January & February

Austral Summer

  • Penguin rookeries are full of life: chicks are hatching and parents are feeding them.
  • Fur seal and leopard seal pups have arrived.
  • Whales are at their most numerous.
  • Receding ice allows for exploration farther south along the Antarctic Peninsula.
Small tan seal with cute face on rocky bank in Antarctica

March

Austral Autumn 

  • Adult penguins molt and curious young penguins take to the seas.
  • Whale watching is still excellent! The migrating whales have mostly arrived, and the ocean is rich with food.
  • Receding ice allows for exploration to the deepest points south along the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Green and pink algae blooms become visible on snowy slopes and ice cliffs.
  • Spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
  • This is also the season when most Antarctic Circle cruises are scheduled.
Whale tail just over the surface of the Antarctic, photographed on an wildlife watching excursion focusing on the Animals of Antarctica

Dreaming of Antarctica? LANDED provides personalized, custom travel within Central America, South America, and the Antarctic. We’ll create a unique itinerary plan tailored to your interests and dreams. Experience the trip of a lifetime. Speak with one of our expert travel designers today at 801.582.2100.

Argentina & Chile: Awasi Lodges

Matias de Cristobal is the Director General of Awasi.  He’s also a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of Relais & Chateaux, and a Board Member of the W Hotel in Santiago, Chile.

In a relatively short time, Awasi has developed a reputation for operating some of the finest lodges in South America.

  • Awasi Atacama — a boutique hotel in the heart of San Pedro de Atacama. Private vehicles and one guide per guest room. Canyons, volcanoes, salt flats, lagoons, hot springs, and pre-Columbian sites. This is one of our favorite destinations for multi-generational families.
  • Awasi Patagonia — set on a private reserve looking out on the Torres del Paine. After a full-day of privately guided hiking, riding, biking, or puma tracking, it’s hard to beat a soak in your private wood-fired hot tub overlooking the Paine Massif.
  • Awasi Iguazu — located on the Argentine side of the falls, this lodge has changed the way visitors experience Iguazu. It’s no longer just a day trip or an overnight stay; now guests have a rationale for 3 and 4-night stays, visiting private reserves, hidden waterfalls, and Guarani villages.

Much of  Awasi’s success—the brand’s vision, personality, and strategy—can be credited to Matias. He’s a keen student of design, customer service, and philosophy.

He’s helped broaden the vision of what travel can mean—how the people we encounter, and the experiences we share, can shape our lives.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How he developed his outlook on meaningful life experiences;
  • His definition of what a true luxury is; and
  • Define what he calls “the Awasi spirit”.

Matias is a true friend, a mentor, and an innovator. Most of our conversations take place in noisy restaurants in Buenos Aires, so we recorded this interview by Skype.  One day soon I hope we’ll be recording a follow up from the Grand Canyon.

Show Notes

Matias is a logophile, and in well read on philosophy, history, business strategy, and religion. He’s always ready to recommend a book.  One of the classics he’s recommended to me is The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. One I’ve shared with him is The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath.

When to Visit the Galapagos

Galapagos Weather

“Considering that these islands are placed directly under the equator, the climate is far from being excessively hot; this seems chiefly cause by the singularly low temperature of the surrounding water, brought here by the great southern Polar current. Except during one short season, very little rain falls, and even then it is irregular; but the clouds generally hang low.” — Charles Darwin

Climate

The Galapagos are equatorial. You might expect a tropical climate, but most areas of the islands are arid and dry. Year round, you can expect highs from the upper 70s to upper 80s, with lows between 75F and 65F.

During the cool season (roughly June to November) you may encounter mist, but virtually no rain. The mist is welcome; these islands receive direct overhead sun, and have very little shade. Expect highs in the upper 70s, and water temperatures near 72F.

The nutrient-rich Humboldt Current prevails, and water temperatures approach 72F.

Counterintuitively, the rainiest months are also the sunniest; air temperatures are finally high enough to condense the mist to rain.

But even the rainiest month, March, has only about two inches of precipitation for the entire month. High temperatures reach the upper 80s, with lows near 72F. The Panama Current prevails, with water temperatures near 75F.

Seasons in the Galapagos

Wet, or Warm Season(December to May) temperatures hover in the mid 80’s and even the 90’s. Rainfall is uncommon but strong, and water temperatures near the surface can average 75°. The island’s lack of shade and the equatorial sun combine to take a toll on visitors. Reflective sand and lava can magnify the effect. Winds and seas are generally calmer.

Garua, Dry, or Cool Season(June to November) brings merciful fog, drizzle, and cool winds. Overnight air temperatures drop into the high 60’s, with similar water temperatures near the surface. These months are the height of the breeding season for many of the island’s avian species. Winds and seas are less calm.

Best & Worst Months in Galapagos

May is often cited as the ideal month in terms of weather, water temperature, and wildlife. Guides will tell you their favorite months are April / May or December / January.

September is traditionally the least visited month; many cruise and land operators shut down in September for annual dry dock or repairs. Still, some visitors prefer to be in Galapagos at times when fewer people are in the islands.

Busiest Months in Galapagos

The busiest months mid-June to September and mid-December to mid-January. June to September is a season with families from North America, South America, and Europe on school vacation. December to January is festive season—also a busy time for families*. The most sought-after festive season space often sells out 18 months in advance.

*Most cruises have a minimum age (often eight to twelve years) while land-based programs do not usually have a minimum age.

Galapagos Weather Summary

Bottom line, this is a year-round, equatorial destination with very little seasonal or temperature change. Species migration is rarer than elsewhere; most birds are in residence continually. Rainfall is low and welcome. Seas are generally calm. There is no “bad” or “wrong” time to visit.

January in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 86F
  • Average water temperature: 76F
  • Ocean current: Panama (warm) current
  • Precipitation: light
  • Sun intensity: high

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Giant tortoises, green sea turtles, red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants
  • Mating: Land iguanas, marine iguanas, red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants
  • Absent: Waved albatrosses

Other

  • Excellent underwater visibility

February in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 86F
  • Average water temperature: 77F (annual high)
  • Ocean current: Panama (warm) current
  • Precipitation: light
  • Sun intensity: high

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Giant tortoises, green sea turtles, red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, land iguanas, marine iguanas
  • Mating: Red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants
  • Absent: Waved albatrosses

Other

  • Excellent underwater visibility

March in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 86F
  • Average water temperature: 77F
  • Ocean current: Panama (warm) current
  • Precipitation: highest this month, but still only two inches on average
  • Sun intensity: high

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Giant tortoises, green sea turtles, red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, land iguanas, marine iguanas
  • Mating: Red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants

Other

  • Excellent underwater visibility
  • Galapagos tortoise eggs are hatching
  • Waved albatrosses begin to arrive on Espanola Island

April in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 88F
  • Average water temperature: 77F
  • Ocean current: Panama (warm) current
  • Precipitation: second highest this month, but still under two inches on average
  • Sun intensity: high

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Giant tortoises, green sea turtles, red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, land iguanas, marine iguanas, waved albatrosses
  • Mating: Red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses

Other

  • Galapagos tortoise hatching season concludes
  • Green sea turtle eggs begin hatching

May in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 82F
  • Average water temperature: 76F
  • Ocean current: Panama (warm) current ends
  • Precipitation: under one inch; dry season begins
  • Sun intensity: moderate

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Giant tortoises, green sea turtles, red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, land iguanas, marine iguanas, waved albatrosses
  • Mating: Sea lions, blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants

Other

  • Along with June, May has the pleasant weather
  • Land iguana eggs are hatching
  • Green sea turtle eggs are hatching

June in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 79F
  • Average water temperature: 73F
  • Ocean current: Humboldt (cold) current begins
  • Precipitation: Trace, with mist or drizzle
  • Sun intensity: Moderate

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses
  • Mating: Sea lions, blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants

Other

  • Along with May, June has the most pleasant weather in the Galapagos
  • Giant tortoises begin migration
  • Humpback whales arrive
  • Magnificent frigates begin their displays

July in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 79F
  • Average water temperature: 72F
  • Ocean current: Humboldt (cold) current
  • Precipitation: Trace, with mist or drizzle
  • Sun intensity: Moderate

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Red-footed and masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses
  • Mating: Sea lions, blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants

Other

  • Humboldt current brings nutrients; underwater life flourishes
  • Dolphin and whale spotting more common
  • Winds are more pronounced
  • Flightless cormorant courtship rituals begin

August in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 79F
  • Average water temperature: 71F
  • Ocean current: Humboldt (cold) current
  • Precipitation: Trace, with mist or drizzle
  • Sun intensity: Moderate

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses
  • Mating: Sea lions, fur seals, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants

Other

  • Humboldt current brings nutrients; underwater life flourishes
  • Dolphin and whale spotting more common
  • Winds are more pronounced; stronger wave action
  • Sea lion pupping season begins

September in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 79F
  • Average water temperature: 72F
  • Ocean current: Humboldt (cold) current
  • Precipitation: Trace, with mist or drizzle
  • Sun intensity: Moderate

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses
  • Mating: Sea lions, fur seals, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants

Other

  • Humboldt current brings nutrients; underwater life flourishes
  • Dolphin and whale spotting more common
  • Winds are more pronounced; stronger wave action
  • Brown pelicans arrive
  • Giant tortoises are laying eggs

October in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 79F
  • Average water temperature: 73F
  • Ocean current: Humboldt (cold) current
  • Precipitation: Trace, with mist or drizzle
  • Sun intensity: Moderate

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses, lava herons
  • Mating: Sea lions, fur seals, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants

Other

  • Humboldt current brings nutrients; underwater life flourishes
  • Dolphin and whale spotting more common
  • Winds are more pronounced; stronger wave action
  • Giant tortoises are laying eggs

November in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 79F
  • Average water temperature: 73F
  • Ocean current: Panama (warm) current
  • Precipitation: Trace, with mist or drizzle
  • Sun intensity: High

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses, lava herons
  • Mating: Green sea turtles, sea lions, fur seals, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants

Other

  • Humboldt current ends
  • Dolphin and whale spotting more common
  • Winds begin to calm; seas are calmer
  • Sea lion pups play in the waters

December in Galapagos

Climate

  • Average high: 81F
  • Average water temperature: 73F
  • Ocean current: Humboldt (cold) current
  • Precipitation: Trace, with mist or drizzle
  • Sun intensity: Moderate

Wildlife

  • Nesting: Blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, magnificent frigates, great frigates, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants, waved albatrosses, lava herons
  • Mating: Giant tortoises, green sea turtles, marine iguanas, land iguanas, sea lions, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, flamingos, Galapagos penguins, finches, flightless cormorants

Other

  • Panama current arrives
  • Start of warm season; plants begin to bud
  • Giant tortoise eggs are hatching
  • Green sea turtles are mating

Dreaming of the Galapagos Islands? LANDED provides personalized, custom travel within Central America, South America, and the Antarctic. We’ll create a unique itinerary plan tailored to your interests and dreams. Experience the trip of a lifetime. Speak with one of our expert travel planners today at 801.582.2100.

Altitude at Machu Picchu

How High is Machu Picchu?

You may be wondering how the altitude at Machu Picchu will affect your visit.

The site itself is not considered a high-altitude destination. The saddle of the mountain, where most of the ruins are located, is roughly 7,900 feet above sea level—about 3,300 feet lower than Cusco and 1,600 feet below the Sacred Valley.

The two peaks bookending the site, Huayna Picchu and Cerro Machu Picchu, have summits reaching 8,835 and 10,111 feet, respectively. The commonly referenced threshold for expression of altitude sickness is 8,000 feet.

Only one hotel, the Belmond Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, sits atop the mountain. It is located right outside the park gate, at around 7,700 feet above sea level.

The town of Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo) has several other recommendable hotels, and an even more comfortable altitude of around 6,700 feet. These include the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel and Hotel Sumaq.

Sun & Other Considerations

Machu Picchu is rarely affected by high winds. Average wind speeds are under 6 miles per hour year-round, and maximum wind speeds rarely exceed 10 miles per hour.

Sun protection is essential. The UV index is moderate—3 or 4—in almost every month due to cloud cover. But those clouds eventually part, and you’ll sunburn more quickly at this altitude. Bring a hat, UV-blocking sunglasses, and a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher).

We highly recommend long sleeves and long pants. Insect repellant is essential. Walking on the grass is not permitted, and (as karma would have it) can lead to painful and plentiful insect bites.

Each month and season at Macchu Picchu has its pros and cons. The bottom line: few people have the privilege of choosing exactly which month they want to travel; visitors travel when work and family schedules align.

The month when you’re able to travel might not be ideal by each metric, but if you have the chance to visit Machu Picchu, take it!

Dreaming of Machu Picchu? Download our Machu Picchu guide.

LANDED provides personalized, custom travel within Central America, South America, and the Antarctic. We’ll design and manage a trip that’s tailored to you.

Experience the trip of a lifetime. Speak with one of our expert travel planners today at 801.582.2100.

Why Visit Machu Picchu?

Why Visit Machu Picchu?

When was the last time you felt awe?

How long has it been since you were amazed?

Are you ready to reclaim your sense of wonder?

Like no place else, Machu Picchu captivates. We know the power of this place. We’ve seen its effect in the smiles, gasps, and joyful tears of those who’ve made their way.

Landed_Travel_Machu_Picchu_Wide_Quarry_Clouds

Machu Picchu is a city of gods: impossible, balanced, and pristine. Its form is reverent poetry—living rock sculpted by skilled hands, wrapped in cloaks of emerald and air.

It stands among the clouds, suspended between Amazon and Andes, hitched to the sun, moon, and stars. Here you feel limits slip away into waves of mountain and light.

Machu Picchu is an engineering marvel—a city in the sky, surrounded by sheer precipices. The site contains 140 known structures, including temples, palaces, ritual baths and dwellings. The city also includes agricultural terraces and over 100 flights of stone stairs.

Much of the stonework is so fine that it seems to spring organically from the ancient granite.

Machu Picchu—”Old Mountain” in the Quechua language— straddles a ridge at approximately 8,000 feet above sea level. Far below, the Urubamba River Valley carves sharp turns around the mountain’s base.

Huayna Picchu—or the “Young Mountain”—serves as the city’s principal backdrop. In the distance and across the river valley, rows of peaks add to the site’s sense of boundlessness.

In 1911, the American explorer and historian Hiram Bingham brought this masterpiece to the world’s attention. Bingham had been searching for the lost city of Vilcabamba when he was led to the site by a local farmer surnamed Arteaga.

In his excavations, Bingham found graves, copper, ceramic and stone objects. But he also uncovered a work of pure genius—perhaps the most beautiful city ever constructed. Here, engineering and art merge as nowhere else.

First light at Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience, especially in the wetter months—November through April. At dawn, low clouds often conceal the site. As sun rises, the mists slowly dissipate to reveal walls and plazas—first in glimpses, then in majesty.

A perfect photo of the ancient city of Machu Picchu, taken on a family vacation hiking tour in Peru

We invite you on this journey—this pilgrimage—to the apex of human creativity. We’ve got you. We know the way. You only need to take your body once; then you can return in memory whenever you need a dose of inspiration.

Machu Pichu at dawn

Dreaming of Machu Picchu? Download our Machu Picchu guide.

LANDED provides personalized, custom travel within Central America, South America, and the Antarctic. We’ll design and manage a trip that’s tailored to you.

Experience the trip of a lifetime. Speak with one of our expert travel planners today at 801.582.2100.