• Home
  • Blogs
  • Penguins, Petrels, and Prions: Top Antarctica Bird Tour Spots

Penguins, Petrels, and Prions: Top Antarctica Bird Tour Spots

by Oceanwide Expeditions Blogs

If anyone ever tells you Antarctica is for the birds, they’re right.

Regio's: Antarctica

Highlights: Vogelspotten

Your best bets for Antarctic birdwatching

If anyone tells you Antarctica is for the birds, they’re right.

But only if they mean it literally, because birdwatchers and polar enthusiasts are well aware that Antarctica is one of the best birding hotspots on the planet.

Not only is Antarctica the only place you can see the eight polar penguin species, it’s also where some of the most beloved flying (and in some cases, very far-flying) seabirds can be found, which we’ve discussed in great detail in our Birds of the South entry.

But what Antarctic locations give you best odds of spotting these winged beauties? Well, straighten your tripods and spit-shine your lenses, because we’re about to tell you.

Image by Ilja Reijnen

The Drake Passage

Some of your best bird-spotting opportunities will take place before you even get to Antarctica.

After embarking from Ushuaia and entering the Drake Passage, you’ll pass what is known as the Antarctic Convergence, a natural boundary formed by north-flowing cold waters colliding with warmer sub-Antarctic waters.

This puts you in the circum-Antarctic upwelling zone, where the marine life and bird life undergoes a shift.

In this nutrient-rich area, you may see wandering albatrosses, grey-headed albatrosses, black-browed albatrosses, light-mantled sooty albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars, Wilson’s storm petrels, blue petrels, and Antarctic petrels, to name a few.

Image by Ross Wheeler

Danco Island

This starkly beautiful Antarctic island offers you the chance to see nesting gentoo penguins, to say nothing of the Weddell and crabeater seals to be found nearby.

Port Lockroy & Jougla Point

After sailing through Neumayer Channel, you may get a chance to visit this former British research station, now a museum and post office, as well as Jougla Point. Here you have good odds of seeing gentoo penguins and blue-eyed shags.

Half Moon Island

You may see chinstrap penguins (and Weddell seals) near Cámara Base, an Argentine scientific research station located on Half Moon Island.

Cuverville Island

This small, precipitous island between the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula and Rongé Island houses a large colony of gentoo penguins as well as breeding brown skuas.

Petermann & Pléneau Islands

These Antarctic islands, located in the Penola Strait just south of the Lemaire Channel, provide a great variety of birdlife, such as gentoo penguins. As for non-bird wildlife, leopard seals, crabeater seals, minke whales, and humpbacks may also be seen here.

Deception Island

Actually a subducted crater, this island in the South Shetlands opens into the sea and creates a natural harbor for the ship. Multiple bird species can be spotted here, such as cape petrels, kelp gulls, brown and south polar skuas, and Antarctic terns.

Wilson’s storm petrels and black-bellied storm petrels also nest in the ruins of the whaling station in Whalers Bay.

Fish Islands

You can encounter one of the Antarctic Peninsula’s southernmost Adélie penguin and blue-eyed shag colonies in the Fish Islands.

Image by Wim van Passel

Antarctic Sound

There are sometimes emperors and Adélie penguins on the ice floes here, as well as kelp gulls, skuas, and various breeds of petrel. The area is also very scenic in terms of landscape, with jagged mountain peaks and enormous walls of ice lying shattered on their slopes.

Brown Bluff

Located in the Antarctic Sound, Brown Bluff is perhaps the most scenic location in the entire northern tip of the Antarctic Continent:  sheer canyon walls, fallen boulders, beautiful volcanic creations capped with ice.

Added to which, a large Adélie penguin rookery lives here, with gentoo penguins and nesting snow petrels also to be found.

Gourdin Island

Chinstraps, gentoos, and Adélie penguins are a few of the seabirds that love this island, which is found just around the corner from the northwestern entrance to Antarctic Sound. 

Devil Island

Home to a large colony of Adélie penguins, Devil Island offers a magnificent vantage point for hikers willing to foot it to the top of the hill. Melting ice sometimes forms a waterfall dropping from the cliffs close to Cape Well-met.

Image by Victoria Salem

Snow Hill Island (rare)

Helicopters allow us to reach the famed emperor penguin colony found here, but nature makes the rules in Antarctica: If conditions aren’t favorable, we can’t take the risk of flying.

If they are, however, you’ll spend about two days at this coveted penguin rookery.

The helicopter operation takes a full day, and the flight duration is approximately 15 minutes. Each helicopter can accommodate 4 – 6 passengers per flight, and the landing site is carefully chosen so that the penguins are not disturbed.

Upon arrival, it’s about a 45-minute walk to the rookery and what is perhaps the most endearing congregation of emperor penguins (and chicks) in all Antarctica.

Image by Franklin Braeckman

Title image by Pascale Sury

Gerelateerde reizen

Antarctica - De Zuidpoolcirkel - Een Ontdekkingsreis naar het diepe zuiden
Tot US$3300 korting

Antarctica - De Zuidpoolcirkel - Een Ontdekkingsreis naar het diepe zuiden

Verken de verste wateren van het verre zuiden als u de Antarctische Cirkel oversteekt op zoek naar verschillende walvissoorten, waaronder bultruggen, dwergvinvissen, en vinvissen

OTL32-24 Deze expeditiecruise naar het Antarctisch Schiereiland en de Zuidpoolcirkel neem u diep het Antarctisch gebied in, tot over de Zuidpoolcirkel. De reis gaat door waterwegen die frequent door walvissen bezocht worden; Bultruggen, Dwergvinvissen en Vinvissen....

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius


16 mrt. - 29 mrt., 2024

Ligplaatsen starten vanaf:

6800 USD

Antarctica - Poolcirkel - Walvissen spotten
Tot US$2800 korting

Antarctica - Poolcirkel - Walvissen spotten

Reis over de Zuidpoolcirkel

PLA32-24 Deze Antarctisch Schiereiland en Zuidpoolcirkel reis gaat door wateren die frequent door walvissen bezocht worden; Bultruggen, Dwergvinvissen en vinvissen worden hier vaak gezien. We ankeren op mooie plaatsen waardoor u de kans heeft om wandelingen te...

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius


21 mrt. - 1 apr., 2024

Ligplaatsen starten vanaf:

5750 USD

Atlantische Odyssee, excl. Antarctisch Schiereiland
Tot US$6700 korting

Atlantische Odyssee, excl. Antarctisch Schiereiland

Deze verre expeditiereis vaart over de hele Atlantische Oceaan en bezoekt een aantal van de meest afgelegen eilanden ter wereld!

HDS31-24 De Atlantic Odyssee is een waar vogelgenot, omdat we de vogeltrekroutes doorkruisen van soorten als de Noordse stern en de kleinste jager. We bezoeken enkele van de meest afgelegen eilanden in de wereld terwijl we de Atlantische Oceaan en de evenaar...

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius


28 mrt. - 20 apr., 2024

Ligplaatsen starten vanaf:

4250 USD

Van St. Helena naar Kaapverdië
Tot US$650 korting

Van St. Helena naar Kaapverdië

Aanschouw de noordelijke voorjaarstrek

HDS32-24 Tijdens de dagen op zee is de kans op een ontmoeting met walvissen groot. Beleef de noordelijke voorjaarstrek van vogels zoals de Noordse Sterns en de kleinste jagers die samen met ons de evenaar ("de lijn") oversteken.

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius


20 apr. - 30 apr., 2024

Ligplaatsen starten vanaf:

2150 USD

Falkland Islands – South Georgia – Antarctic Peninsula

Ontmoet wel zes soorten pinguïns!

PLA20-24 Een expeditiecruise naar de Falkland Eilanden, South Georgia en het Antarctisch Schiereiland. South Georgia wordt wel een Antarctische oase genoemd, vanwege de enorme aantallen zeevogels en zeezoogdieren die er voorkomen. Tijdens deze reis kunnen we...

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius


18 okt. - 7 nov., 2024

Ligplaatsen starten vanaf:

13350 USD