Discovering Antarctica is about adventure and it’s about enriching your life. A trip to this wonderful continent will undoubtably stick with you forever.
Aurora Expeditions understands this better than most other companies travelling to the white continent. They have based their entire company’s philosophy on the environment, learning and enrichment, making sure it is truly the trip of a lifetime for all of their guests. Keep in mind that only a very small fraction of the world’s population will ever venture this far south – it’s a very exclusive club – and this club wants you!
I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Antarctica on the unique looking Greg Mortimer. The ship’s front looks a tad odd, but when does advanced technology not? This special design gives the Greg Mortimer ice breaking capabilities and allows the ship to go faster and sail smoother than a conventional ship, which is vital when you are battling the oceans around Antarctica.
On our journey we experienced 4.5 metre waves through the Drake Passage, which the ship handled extremely well. This is especially true in comparison to the Russian Ice Breaker I went on in 2019, which made me feel like I was a small rubber ducky bobbing in the expansive ocean.
Days in Antarctica are magical and varied; this largely dependent on the region’s weather. Most days you’ll get to do a shore landing as well as taking a zodiac adventure, searching for imposing icebergs, playful seals, and grand whales.
During our cruise, we landed on several small islands filled with cute (and slightly smelly) penguins and seals. We also visited a calm bay with two explorers’ huts for us to see inside, followed by an easy hill climb to marvel at the awe-inspiring panoramic view.
Zodiac touring is more relaxed as you rug up, sit back and enjoy the ride. Another great perk of Aurora Expeditions is that you hop aboard the zodiacs at sea level. This means it is easier, faster and safer than trying to navigate a staircase into the boat with all of your gear on – especially when the water is a little choppy.
We would venture off for a few hours looking for wildlife, discovering islands with shipwrecks and bays will with stunning icebergs. The iceberg’s many blue and white shades are a photographer’s dream, especially when the sun hits.
The zodiac drivers are very experienced expedition team members. They all have a great passion for Antarctica; sharing their vast knowledge and good humour with everyone. A win-win!
There were so many highlights of the trip – as expected in a region this beautiful -- but I did have a few standout moments. Firstly, opening the curtains one morning we saw a whale 50 metres off the ship’s side. It was an incredible experience, and one that made me smile for the rest of the day.
The second standout was my wife doing the ‘polar plunge’ into the icy waters. She’s a lot braver than I am (yes, it’s true, I am a coward and hate cold water), and it was thrilling to see her complete such an achievement. I am so proud of her.
Being a small expedition ship means that they only take a small number of passengers, so you really get to know each other. It’s nice sharing stories about the day’s adventures and wildlife you’ve encountered at the ship’s bar or lounge at night. Some great bonds are formed as you share this experience together.
Overall, our Antarctica trip with Aurora Expeditions was an incredible experience; one I would happily repeat over and over again if give the chance!
Exploring Antarctica, even for a short trip, is well worth it. Do yourself a favour and don’t think – just go!
All images by Sacha Bunnik