SNOW HILL ISLAND, ANTARCTICA
Why go? Though Snow Hill Island was discovered in 1843, its 4,000-strong colony of emperor penguins – the biggest penguin species – was only found in 2005. It’s unsurprising: this icy outcrop is remote even in Antarctic terms, often hemmed in by the frozen, floe-choked Weddell Sea. Indeed, it often takes an off-ship, weather-dependent helicopter excursion to reach the rookery; choppers land several kilometres away to minimise disturbance. If you do make it to the island’s south-west corner, one of the world’s greatest wildlife experiences awaits: a noisy gaggle of regal birds, the adults up to 120cm tall, tending their fluffball chicks in the middle of pristine polar nowhere.
When to go: November-December, to see the emperor penguins with their chicks.
How to go: Expedition cruises leave from Ushuaia (Argentina); a few head for the Weddell Sea and attempt to reach Snow Hill Island, using helicopters to get closer to the colony.