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From diving Antarctic waters to chasing the Northern Lights, here are the ultimate adventure experiences to add to your bucket list when exploring with Aurora Expeditions in 2023.
If there’s one thing that we’ve all learnt in recent years, it’s that travel is precious and a privilege, and when it comes to booking that big-ticket trip and bucket list experiences, there’s no time like the present.
With this in mind, we take you to the most remote corners of the globe to spotlight the life-changing, goosebump-inducing adventures you can have when travelling with Aurora Expeditions. And with at least one for every month of the year, you will never run out of reasons to take an adventure cruise or guided walk on the wild side.
Best time for: Trekking in Patagonia
Let’s face it – there’s never a bad time to visit Patagonia, that raw and ravishing swathe of wilderness at the very bottom of South America. Covering Chile and Argentina, Patagonia remains one of the world’s last travel frontiers, a vast union of perennially snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, glaciated fjords, white-water rivers, gem-like ice fields and coastal volcanoes.
One of the best – and often one of the only – ways to explore is on foot. And the ultimate time to do that is over South America’s summer months. Long hours of daylight maximise your trekking time, whether through untouched beech forest, across windswept steppes or in the shadow of glaciers that make you feel very insignificant – in the best possible way. Keep watch for llama-like guanacos, flamingos, swans and even elusive pumas.
Try this: Torres del Paine Explorer
Best time for: Underwater exploration in Antarctica
In February, water temperatures in Antarctica remain relatively warm. Emphasis on relatively. Hovering around 0ºC at this time of year, the Southern Ocean is a magnet for experienced divers. After all, much of the continent’s most fascinating wildlife can be found in the water, while some 90 per cent of Antarctica’s icebergs also hide below the surface.
At this time of year, wildlife is also at its busiest. Most migrating whales are back in Antarctic waters, and mature penguins are on the hunt for food for hungry newborn chicks.
Strap on your tank to glide through fairytale underwater worlds, where enormous ’bergs shapeshift in the changing light, casting a ethereal glow over soft corals and kelp forest where sea squirts, spider crabs, peacock worms and butterfly fish play.
Try this: Antarctic Explorer
Best time for: Whale watching in Antarctica
Whale season is in full swing in March, with these creatures at their most active and playful over the month – a full belly of krill means they have energy to burn, breaching and blowing and putting on a show. Eight species of whales call these waters home, and they congregate in staggering numbers – there are at least 40,000 humpbacks and 80,000 orcas alone.
And as this is the end of the cruise season, with most ships already retreating north, you may well feel like you have these enormous marine mammals – and indeed Antarctica – all to yourself. Be sure to consult your ship’s photographer, as with the sun now lower in the sky, capturing wildlife during a spectacular sunrise or sunset is a must.
Try this: Antarctica Complete
Best time for: Sun-kissed adventures around the globe
April marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring in the Azores, a dreamy Portuguese archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic. Sun-filled days herald the onset of wildflowers and an abundance of wildlife – in fact, it’s said that this chain of islands is the best place in Europe for spotting dolphins and whales at this time of year. Hike to lake-filled calderas, and explore atmospheric seaside villages while on the watch.
Try this: Cape Verde, Canary Islands & Azores
Costa Rica may be 6,500 kilometres from the Azores, but it’s also in its prime in April. This is the last month of the country’s dry season, and while the temperatures are still delightfully warm, the crowds have thinned. Crowds of humans, that is – there’s still an abundance of wildlife, including pods of dolphins summersaulting along the coast, sloths hanging out in flowering trees and butterflies wisping through the rainforest.
Try this: Costa Rica & Panama Canal
Best time for: Soaking up history and culture in the UK
If you want to maximise your chances of enjoying warm weather and long days, visit the UK in May. The countryside is particularly pretty this year, with hiking trails enveloped by all manner of wildflowers – follow them to charming towns with strong Celtic connections and an enduring maritime history.
Whether you’re travelling in Scotland, Ireland, Wales or Britain, along you’re route you’ll likely pass heritage-listed castles, ancient ruins and dazzling coastlines, all wrapped in some of the cleanest air on the planet.
Try this: Jewels of Coastal UK
Best time for: Bird watching in the Arctic
June is summer in the Arctic, a time when the sea ice begins to break and cruise ships commence a season of exploring. Wildlife is at its most active in June, before the annual migration begins, which means that you’ll have a front-row seat to everything from polar bears to whales. And then there are our feathered friends.
Twitchers will delight in spotting a cacophony of birds, whether on rocky escarpments, Arctic tundra or along tarns. Cruise the coastline in a Zodiac or lace up your hiking shoes and follow an ornithologist to witness cute-as-a-button puffins, northern Fulmars, black guillemots, common elders, kittiwakes, Arctic terns, snow buntings, long-tailed ducks… This pristine environment nurtures all creatures, great and small, fury and featured.
Try this: Iceland, Jan Mayen, Svalbard
Best time for: High-altitude sightseeing in Greenland
In winter, most of Greenland’s peaks and rocky escarpments are blanketed in snow. But come July, things start to warm up, making it the perfect destination for experienced climbers. Scale remote granite cliffs and glacial remnants, taking in the ravishing (and unpopulated ) coastline and ice-filled fjords of this remote Arctic island.
Those back at sea level don’t miss out on nature’s drama. Retreating drift ice makes July the perfect time to paddle along the coast in a kayak, dwarfed by immense cliffs that appear to cleave off the edge of the Earth.
Try this: Arctic Complete
Best time for: Spotting endemic wildlife in the Arctic
The sun never sets on the Arctic in August, when the Midnight Sun bathes the northern region in a warm glow, 24/7. The non-stop daylight gives predators like polar bears more time to hunt, and they’re out in force prowling for food over the month. Arctic foxes and enormous pods of walruses join them.
Regardless of the species, you can expect to see plenty of young – August is the start of fresh life in the Arctic, and a chance to experience newborn wildlife, whether from the comfort of a Zodiac or in a kayak.
Try this: Jewels of the Arctic
Best time for: The mesmerising Northern Lights
When Arctic skies begin to darken in September, the aurora borealis makes its presence known. This tie-dye of galactic hues – blue, pink, green, violet – dances overhead, often accompanied by pulses of glitter from shooting stars. The beauty of the spectacle is hard to comprehend, and even harder to put into words. Take every opportunity you can to witness this natural phenomenon on deck.
Try this: Northern Lights Explorer
Best time for: Travelling the Northwest Passage
Linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans via the Arctic Archipelago in northern Canada, the Northwest Passage has inspired explorers and adventure-seekers for centuries. The labyrinth of icy channels is best navigated in September, when the weather is fine and when animals are out in full force. Keep watch for whales, polar bears, walruses and even the elusive narwhals, aka “the unicorns of the sea”.
Try this: Complete Northwest Passage
Best time for: Skiing and snowboarding in Antarctica
In Antarctica, there are no gondolas, no groomed runs, and no mountain huts to refuel in. And that’s why skiing and snowboarding here is so amazing. There are also no queues, which means that when you reach the top of a peak, you’ll have the joy of making the first tracks in the snow as you glide down toward iceberg-filled Antarctic waters.
This experience is for those who like to go where few have gone before, and enjoy horizon-bending vistas that will spoil you for all future ski trips. October – the beginning of the Antarctic cruise season – is also when the region’s animals begin to mate. They’re a noisy bunch at this time of year.
Try this: Spirit of Antarctica
Best time for: Wildlife photography in South Georgia
This Southern Ocean island is a photographer’s dream in November, a time when penguins, seals and seabirds create one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on Earth. Elephant seals consolidate their harems, king penguins begin laying their eggs, and millions of gentoo, macaroni and chinstrap penguins begin laying and incubating theirs. And then there are the seabirds…
Nothing quite prepares you for the feathered gathering at South Georgia in spring, with all manner of migratory avian species spotted, not in the least the wandering albatross – wingspan 3.5 metres.
Try this: South Georgia and Antarctic Odyssey
Best time for: Celebrating Antarctica
White Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere? It’s a thing when you visit Antarctica in December. While this is summer, snow and ice still blanket the countryside – in fact, this is your last chance to camp on it for the season, lulled to sleep under the Midnight Sun by the crack and shift of ice around you.
Penguins are also at their liveliest in December. The ultimate Christmas gift? Spotting a chattering colony as a whale breaches beside your Aurora ship. You won’t know where to look.
Try this: Across the Antarctic Circle
For more information DOWNLOAD your e-book: 2023 Ultimate Bucket List – Aurora Expeditions™