The younger sibling to our fully-grown Antarctic Explorer voyage, Antarctic Explorer Express is a condensed version of the longer itinerary. It may seem indulgent to embark on a quick trip to Antarctica, but for travellers who are short on time, a short trip to the Antarctic Peninsula could be just what you are looking for. By flying across the Drake Passage in at least one direction combined with a compacted time in the Antarctic Peninsula, our Antarctic Explorer Express voyages are tailored for travellers seeking a quick adventure to the frozen continent. Enjoy Zodiac excursions to explore rugged coastlines, where unexpected appearances from curious whales is known to occur.
Having made your way to Ushuaia, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. This evening, enjoy a light refreshment as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception. Afterwards, dine at your leisure (dinner not included).
Accommodation: Las Hayas Hotel (or similar)
This morning, please ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Your luggage will be collected from your hotel and transferred directly to the port for clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. Please keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day. Enjoy free time after check-out, meeting back in the hotel lobby at 2.00 pm to commence a short sightseeing tour of Ushuaia.
Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego is located at the shores of the Beagle Channel and surrounded by the Martial Mountains giving you a unique landscape in Argentina, which is the combination of mountains, sea, glaciers and forests. On this brief introductory tour, you will visit “La Mision” neighbourhood, the old Government House, and the upper area of the city, which offers beautiful panoramic views of Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel. During the excursion you will see the antique houses that belonged to the first families settled in Ushuaia. The excursion ends with a visit to the Old Prison Museum before transferring to the pier for embarkation at approximately 4.00 pm.
If you choose to not participate in the sightseeing tour, you will need to make your own way to the Prison Museum carpark by 3.45 pm to re-join the group for the transfer to the pier for embarkation.
After embarkation, you will have time to settle into your cabin before our important mandatory briefings. As the ship pulls away from port, we will gather on the deck to commence our adventure with spectacular views over Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
As we commence the Drake Passage crossing, we make the most of our time getting comfortable with the motions of the sea. Our expedition team prepare you for our first landing with important wildlife guidelines and biosecurity procedures and start our lecture program to help you learn more about Antarctica’s history, wildlife and environment.
Our wildlife experiences begin as we enjoy watching and photographing the many seabirds, including majestic albatrosses and giant petrels following our vessel. On sea days, you may can enjoy the facilities on board the vessel including the gym, wellness centre or the relaxing in one of the observation lounges.
Nearing the South Shetland Islands and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on the afternoon of day four, the excitement is palpable with everyone converging on one of the observation decks watching for our first iceberg.
The ocean takes on a whole new perspective once we are below the Antarctic Convergence and are surrounded by the surreal presence of floating ice sculptures. The memory of your first big iceberg sighting is likely to remain with you for a lifetime. Time and weather permitting, we may attempt our first landing in Antarctica by late afternoon.
It is almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in Antarctica. Spotting your first iceberg and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience that will stay with you forever.
Once we arrive, the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands are ours to explore, and we have a host of choices available to us. Because we are so far south, we will experience approximately 18-24 hours of daylight and the days can be as busy as you wish.
Your experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design your voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
We generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. You will want to rug up before joining Zodiac cruises along spectacular ice cliffs or among grounded icebergs, keeping watch for whales, seals and porpoising penguins. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic huts and explore some of our favourite spots along the peninsula.
While ashore we aim to stretch our legs, wandering along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. If you have chosen an optional activity, you will have the option to do participate in the activity whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters – conditions permitting! The polar plunge can take place at any time during the voyage, so listen out for the announcement from the expedition team and get ready for the most exhilarating dip of your life!
In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, we may ship cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to watch whales travelling or feeding. This is a great time to enjoy the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge (open at the captain’s discretion) for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour. Listen out for the creak and deep rumble of glaciers as they carve. Take a quiet moment to experience the wonder of the pristine paradise of the splendid white continent.
As we approach Frei Base on King George Island, it is time to farewell Antarctica and our amazing adventure before boarding our flight (approximately one hour and forty-five minutes) to Punta Arenas, Chile. There is time for reflection and discussion about what we have seen and experienced. We hope you become ambassadors for Antarctica telling your family, friends and colleagues about your journey to this magical place, advocating for its conservation and preservation so that they might one day visit the region to experience what you have been lucky to see and do here.
In Punta Arenas airport, you will be transferred to our group hotel for an overnight stay.
Accommodation: Hotel Cabo de Hornos (or similar)
Note: King George Island is located at the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the South Shetland Islands and is one of the most remote places on Earth. A clear sky with perfect visibility is required for safe take-off and landing. We apologise in advance for any possible delays.
After breakfast, bid a fond farewell to your fellow travellers as we continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature (breakfast included). A transfer to the airport is included in the voyage fare.