It’s still winter, so it might seem odd to think about heading “into the ice” next winter. But Antarctica, from November through February, is actually the perfect summer vacation: austral, or southern, summer that is. Are you interested in a new kind of experience? Many travelers have indicated a desire to use their vacations to explore new places and learn about subjects of interest.

With the current media attention on global climate change and the possibilities of polar melt, plus widespread affection for penguins, many travelers have been inspired to visit Antarctica. If this interests you, then you’ll want to consider an expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula. It’s where you’ll be able to see hillsides covered with gentoo, Adelie or chinstrap penguins, and to cruise through the majestic Lemaire Channel between towering, wind- and wave-sculpted blue bergs.

Antarctica is true wilderness, with spectacular mountains, pristine beaches and incredible wildlife — from whales and other marine mammals feeding in the nutrient-rich Southern ocean to the huge numbers of penguins. It’s the ideal place to learn how they survive in their natural environment, and observe their amusing behavior. Land travel in Antarctica isn’t really an option. And since all the scenery and wildlife is along the coast, the best way to experience the magical Antarctic environment is by ship.

When planning your trip, be certain to look for a travel operator that has significant experience navigating icy Antarctic waters. Lindblad Expeditions pioneered polar tourism in 1966. It has been the leader in polar travel for decades, in partnership with National Geographic since 2004. Its state-of-the-art expedition ship the National Geographic Explorer, is purpose-built for safe navigation in ice. Their highly skilled and experienced captains and officers provide the safest expedition possible, allowing you to relax and enjoy the adventure. In addition, Lindblad Expeditions’ ice-class ship and expertise can enable you to enjoy more of the unique thrills Antarctica offers — crunching through the ice, or disembarking to walk on the frozen sea from a ship “parked” in the ice.

While in Antarctica you’ll also want to explore more of your surroundings, so make certain to look for a travel provider that offers up-close exploration opportunities. Lindblad Expeditions’ voyages feature nimble Zodiacs to view the icebergs and explore coastal beaches. They offer nature walks on the 7th continent. And they also pioneered polar kayaking, allowing travelers to freely explore Antarctica at water-level. Every Lindblad Expedition is led by a team of knowledgeable naturalists to help you learn about the incredible wildlife and geography of this special environment. If those elements alone don’t entice you to visit the "White Continent," know that Lindblad Expeditions is unique among travel operators – they include a National Geographic Photographer on every voyage to provide inspiration and photo tips; and they price their trips to include all the activities available – making your wallet virtually optional.