arctic expeditions wildlife

Arctic Expeditions

Luxury Small-Ship Voyages to the Wild North

Overview

Overview

The great sweep of the Arctic encompasses the northernmost latitudes on earth. From the wilds of Canada’s tundra to the incomparable glaciers of  Greenland  and the dramatic volcanic landscape of  Iceland, the Arctic offers unparalleled encounters with the natural world at its most rugged and pristine.

Immerse yourself in this mesmerizing world steeped in rich history, fascinating traditional culture and wildlife that entrances and delights. We offer a range of itineraries of varying dates, durations, optional  activities  and  destinations. Browse through the itineraries tab to find out which is right for you.


Antarctic Expedition Vessel - Greg Mortimer

We place you in the path of magic, aboard our state-of-the-art expedition vessel, Greg Mortimer. Not only is it  the most capable and comfortable ship in the Arctic fleet, but they also have the most experienced, competent crews and renowned naturalist guides. Many other outfitters use aging Russian research vessels which are very spartan and not well-suited for adventure tourism.

The emphasis is on adventure, but we don’t skimp on luxury. Our expedition ship features 5-star cuisine, a spa, a generous gym, a sauna, 2 outdoor jacuzzis, elegant lounges, an extensive library and spacious staterooms. Come along, and have your mind (and Instagram feed) blown. In comfort.


Try something different! We offer an unusual variety of activities including: snorkeling, diving, kayaking, stand-up paddling, skiing, snow-shoeing and camping.

Activities

We offer amazing new ways to get under the skin of the polar regions: 

Stand-UP Paddleboarding

We’re among the first to offer this activity in the Arctic on select departures aboard the Greg Mortimer. Intimate groups of experienced paddlers a chance to take SUP paddling to the next level, in this amazing environment. We supply dry suits and cold-water equipment along with high quality and stable boards. Weather permitting, we will offer daily outings with a support Zodiac. We provide waterproof day-packs to carry our cameras and spare clothing to make the most of our excursions above the water and on shore.

Each group of 3 to 9 paddlers generally visit the same wildlife sites as our fellow expeditioners. However, our smaller craft (SUP) and manoeuvrability often means that we also have the opportunity to access areas that are often not accessible by Zodiacs. We will also make time to do some shore landings with the rest of the group.

If your experience is limited, we would encourage you to call us to discuss your suitability. There is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. Paddlers should be aged 16 or over.

EQUIPMENT INCLUDED

  • SUP board, leash & paddle
  • Neoprene boots
  • Safety gear
  • A dry bag
  • PFD (Life jacket)
  • Dry suits
  • Insulated gloves

OUR GUIDES

Our guides have many years of stand-up paddleboarding experience in the destinations we visit. The paddleboarding guide will lead the group on each excursion, explaining facts about the wildlife and other highlights we come across.

BOOKING

Book early! The few places available sell out quickly.
Additional fees apply. Please inquire!

Sea Kayaking

One of the most exhilarating ways to experience the Arctic

Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, skim past penguin rookeries or under soaring bird cliffs, or drift quietly as you watch wildlife unobtrusively, absorbing the majestic scenery.

Led by experienced guides, paddling in small groups allows us the opportunity to paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes as well as allowing easy and intimate access to beautiful coastlines.

What’s involved?

Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to see as much as possible. We paddle anywhere between 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 4 hours) per outing, sometimes taking a snack and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy on our excursion.

Each group of 4 to 12 kayakers generally visit the same wildlife sites as our fellow expeditioners, however our smaller craft often means that we also have the opportunity to access areas that are often not accessible by Zodiacs. We will also make time to do some shore landings with the rest of the group.

In polar regions, the elements play a particularly important role. It is important that you have an adventurous attitude and understand that our kayaking time will be affected by the weather that we experience.

Even if your experience is limited, we’d encourage you to call us to discuss your suitability. There is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. Kayakers should be aged 14 or over.

Equipment Included

  • Kayak & Paddle
  • Neoprene boots
  • Safety gear
  • A 15-litre dry bag
  • Life jackets
  • Dry suits
  • Pogies (insulated mittens that attach to your paddle)

Our Guides

Our guides have years of kayaking experience in our destinations. The sea kayaking guide will instruct you on safety and lead the group on each excursion, explaining facts about the wildlife and other highlights we paddle across.

How to Book

This activity is available at an additional cost. It’s important to book this activity early as it usually sells out quickly. Please let us know when you reserve a place on the expedition.

Scuba Diving

The icy waters of Antarctic and the Arctic guarantee amazing new experiences.

Antarctic and reveals a world of ice, where glaciers, gigantic icebergs and a unique blend of marine life greet us, making for a very special experience. With numerous diving opportunities along your voyage, no two days will be alike – a truly inspiring and unforgettable experience awaits.

 

Required Experience

To participate in our polar diving activity, all divers must be a trained, certified scuba divers with proof of certification beyond entry level, i.e. Advanced Diver certification or equivalent rating issued by a recognised scuba training organisation.

In addition to this, it is extremely important that adequate training and experience is gained in dry-suit diving, and in the use of other new and unfamiliar equipment to be used in polar waters. To ensure your safety and enjoyment and to avoid any unnecessary problems on the trip, recent diving experience and proof of a minimum of 20 logged dives using a dry-suit is required prior to joining the voyage.

Our Guides

Our team of experienced dive guides have over 20 years’ polar diving experience and provide divers with detailed briefings and best practice procedures to ensure a safe diving experience. Your dive master will ensure Standard Safety Diving Practices are adhered to at all times.

How to Book

This activity is available at an additional cost. It’s important to book early as it usually sells out quickly, so please let us know when you reserve a place on the expedition.

Snorkelling

Discover the underwater world of Antarctica and the Arctic!

Witness wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth. Through crystal clear waters you’ll discover the amazing mobility and speed of penguins entering and exiting from the ice, marvel at beautiful sculpted icebergs below the water and witness marine life such as crustaceans, isopods, starfish and nudibranchs!

With a longstanding tradition of pushing the boundaries, Aurora Expeditions launched our Antarctic snorkelling adventures in 2014. In 2016 the activity has also been added to a range of our Arctic expeditions. This unique experience will allow passengers to see both destinations in a completely new dimension, witnessing wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth.

This latest innovative activity option is led by our expert polar diving guides, and utilises state of the art equipment including drysuits, gloves, hood, fins, mask, and snorkel. Passengers will be provided with all of the training and equipment they need to experience Antarctica from this truly unique angle.

Passengers who take part will enjoy the opportunity to snorkel daily (weather dependent), taking delight in sheltered bays, off shore islands and secluded ship wrecks which make for spectacular wildlife viewing.

Our Guides

Our team of experienced dive guides have over 20 years’ polar diving experience and provide snorkellers and divers with detailed briefings and best practice procedures to ensure a safe snorkelling and diving experience.

Group Size

Polar snorkelling requires at least 6 snorkellers for the activity to proceed. Please ask our team for numbers at time of booking.

How to Book

Simply inform us at time of booking that you would like to include the optional snorkelling activity to your expedition. Addition fees apply. Book early as places are limited.

Photography

Our remote and wild destinations are a photographer’s dream! 

All our voyages offer fantastic opportunities for photography and videography. On selected expeditions, a photography expert will offer lectures and presentations to help improve your skills. Whether a beginner or experienced photographer, you will find the presentations and informal tuitions, while either on board or during landings and excursions, will help you capture those memorable moments.

Our Guides

Scott Portelli

Scott is an international award-winning wildlife, nature and underwater photographer. A member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), Scott has spent over a decade working in the polar regions with a focus on Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic areas.

Peter Eastway

Peter is an AIPP Grand Master of Photography, Fellow and Honoury Fellow of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography and the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography, and author of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Landscape Photography. Peter is also featured in the Tales By Light documentary (available on Netflix).

Richard I’Anson

Richard is a Canon Master who has published 12 books including five editions of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Photography, featured in the television documentary Tales By Light (available on Netflix) and is a Travel Photography Scholarship Mentor for World Nomads.

How to Book

If you are interested in joining in one of our specialised photography programs, please advise let us know at the time of booking.

Ski/Snowboard Touring

Ski/Snowboard Touring offers keen adventurers on select voyages a chance to take on some of the world’s most remote slopes. Experienced participants will have the chance to enjoy day-trips to traverse across remote, snow-capped peaks to descend into pristine bays filled with floating bergs, penguin rookeries or even a breaching whale! Those interested in a multi-day ski adventure can opt to attempt Shackleton’s route across South Georgia.

From alpine bowls and crevassed glaciers, to long open slopes, join us to summit and ski a range of Antarctic landscapes, venturing to some amazing wild and remote corners. A spirit of adventure is a must. After all, when you strap on your skis, you’ll be exploring places where few have ever skied before!

Required Experience

Our Ski/Snowboard Touring program requires a reasonable level of fitness and previous experience. The snow conditions will be varied and the terrain can be challenging at times. While you don’t need to be a back-country athlete to participate, and there are opportunities to develop skills during the expedition.

Below are the minimum ability requirements:

  • Advanced level of skiing or snowboarding ability (ability to ski/ride in advanced terrain-black run resorts runs is required)
  • Off-piste experience in a variety of snow conditions
  • Previous touring experience is an advantage, but not essential (depending on your off-piste experience and overall ability)

Our guides can teach you the required touring skills from day one, as well as important mountaineering skills including ice axe and crampon use, roped glacier travel, constructing snow and ice anchors, assessing and moving in avalanche terrain, personal avalanche equipment and rescue, constructing emergency shelters, navigation and interpreting weather.

Fitness Requirements

You can expect to tour from two to six hours each day, some of which will include an ascent of a small peak or two. Participants must be fit and prepared for this activity. Ideally, you will have trained with outdoor carry packs, however uphill walks or riding bikes is also ideal for backcountry training.

You will enjoy your touring much more if you have prepared adequately. If you have any queries regarding your suitability or fitness please don’t hesitate to contact us. One of our mountain guides will be able to assess your ability and offer advice on training and preparation.

Age Limit

The minimum age for this activity is 14.

Group Size

Group size is limited to 10 skiers in Antarctica and 8 skiers on the South Georgia Crossing, plus two guides.

Ski/Snowboard Touring Outings

While we aim to get out as often as possible, the number of outings will be dependent on weather and other factors. The average number of outings is usually six or more per voyage – depending on your itinerary. Every voyage is different but some of our typical landings spots have been:

Our Guides

Our highly-qualified guides have many years of climbing, ski and snowboard touring experience. Most of our guides have an extensive knowledge of the areas we plan to ski or snowboard. They aim to provide a personalised and unique experience for every participant whilst managing safety to the highest standards. Group sizes are limited to ten, with the average group size between 4 and 10.

Wind, Ice and Weather in Antarctica & South Georgia

You can expect to experience a variety of weather, from blue skies and sunshine through to snow, rain and grey clouds. The weather in some places can change extremely fast, ranging from sunshine to gale force winds. We usually begin our tours from sheltered landings, however wind and ice build up at higher altitudes may disrupt, change or cancel planned outings.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage, is mandatory on all Aurora Expeditions voyages. You will need to ensure that your insurance policy covers you for Ski Touring activity and related equipment. An additional policy or premium may be required to ensure you have adequate coverage. Please contact Aurora Expeditions if you need assistance with your insurance policy.

Activity Surcharge

Touring is available for an additional surcharge and includes your guide, permits, outings and some equipment.

How to Book

This activity is available at an additional cost. It’s important to book early as it usually sells out quickly, so please let us know when you reserve a place on the expedition.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing makes walking up gentle slopes and across soft, powdery snow a breeze, allowing you to explore places others struggle to reach in boots alone. Armed with your very own set of snowshoes and ski poles, you’ll be led by our expert guides who will provide all the instruction you need. Snowshoeing is an excellent way to ascend to some of Antarctica’s best vantage points, stretch the legs and take in the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Snowshoeing is the perfect activity for everyone, with no previous experience required. Join in on the fun and discover a different slice of Antarctica!

Required Experience & Fitness

This popular alpine activity is easy to learn. No experience is necessary – all you need is a willingness to try. All training is provided and our team of guides will have you trained and ready to go in no more than half an hour.

Participants should be confident in their footing and have an average level of fitness – outings may be up to three hours in duration. Those who enjoy hiking trails or taking long walks at home will possess enough fitness to enjoy this activity. As with any other activity, you will get more enjoyment out of it with some preparation in advance, such as long walks with uphill sections or bike riding.

The minimum age for this activity is 14.

Our guides

Our highly-qualified guides have many years of climbing, skiing and snowshoeing experience and all hold relevant mountain instruction and safety certificates . They aim to provide a personalised and unique experience for every customer whilst maintaining safety to the highest standards. We have one snow shoeing guide for every 10 guests.

Our Outings

While we aim to get out as often as possible, the number of outings will be dependent on weather and our itinerary’s landing points. The average number of outings is usually six or more per voyage, lasting up to three hours per outing. Every voyage is different but some of our typical landings spots have been:

Equipment and clothing requirements

Aurora Expeditions will supply all snowshoes and ski poles for all participants. As well as the general packing list provided by Aurora Expeditions, we also recommend:

  • Breathable fabric outerwear as you will be exercising
  • Thick pair of socks and sheep wool inner soles
  • Snow gaiters are optional

You should also ensure your insurance policy covers snowshoeing. An additional policy or premium may be required to ensure you have adequate coverage. Travel insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage, is mandatory on all Aurora Expeditions voyages. Please contact Aurora Expeditions if you need assistance with your insurance policy.

How to Book

This activity is available at an additional cost. It’s important to book early as it usually sells out quickly, so please let us know when you reserve a place on the expedition.

Alpine Trekking/Climbing

Along the Arctic coastlines, hundreds of peaks rise several thousand feet, snow-clad and beckoning eager adventure seekers. From ascents of alpine peaks to ice climbing, our program aims to give participants a taste of the region’s fantastic climbing opportunities.

On select voyages we offer climbs for the moderately fit, from easy ascents to more technical routes, ranging from 4 to 10 hours. We hope to make at least two one-day alpine ascents and attempt some ice climbing. Previous experience with crampons and ice axe is necessary and a surcharge applies.

Required Experience

Our alpine trekking/climbing program is suitable for a wide range of experience levels. Most of the alpine peaks we climb are non-technical and can usually be attempted by people with limited experience. However, it is not an instructional climbing class for beginners and is therefore unsuitable for complete novices. Ideally participants would have the following experience as a minimum;

  • Walking or climbing on snow including the use of ice axe and crampons (required)
  • Some trekking or hiking experience
  • Rock climbing or abseiling experience is an advantage as ropes are used

Please note: Your guide will assess your ability on the initial climb, and if you have insufficient experience he or she reserves the right to restrict your participation in tougher conditions.

Fitness requirements

A reasonable level of fitness is required and participants should be able to walk or climb with a moderate pack of approximately 10kgs for up to 8 to 10 hours on ascent days. If you have any queries regarding your suitability regarding experience or fitness then please don’t hesitate to contact us. One of our climbing guides will be more than happy to talk through the experience with you. Climbers should be aged 14 or over.

Our guides

Our guides have many years of climbing experience in our destinations and all hold relevant mountain instruction and safety certificates. The guide will lead the group on each excursion, explaining facts about the wildlife and other highlights as we come across them. We have one climbing guide for every 4-6 climbers.

Number of Climbs

We aim to climb two peaks and/or complete a glacier traverse as well as undertake two or more ice climbing sessions, each lasting somewhere between 4 to 10 hours. Our actual number of outings is highly weather dependent and dictated by our voyage itinerary.

Wind, Ice and Weather

During summer the air temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula is generally above freezing but can range from -4°C to +5°C. The water however, is close to freezing, and combined with winds which sweep off the glaciers, make the wind chill much cooler. If the weather changes during our outing we will head back to the ship or to the shore. The ship’s captain, expedition leader and climbing guide always maintain close contact to ensure a safe climbing experience.

Required Footwear and Clothing

  • Leather or synthetic climbing boots that have a ¾ shank and are crampon compatible. Hiking boots are unsuitable. Ensure your boots fit correctly and are well worn in before your voyage. If you are unsure of boots suitability then please contact us.
  • Warm socks are essential! Bring enough spares to allow for used pairs to dry.
  • Water proof jacket and pants: Designed for alpine environments, made from quality breathable material, such as Goretex, is required. Light weight nylon gear and some ski clothing is not suitable
  • Thermal synthetic or wool long johns and top, and fleece or woolen jacket or vest are all ideal for layering.
  • Gaiters that are compatible with your boot and are designed for use in snow
  • Gloves with removable inners (x 2 pairs)
  • Sunglasses with a high UV rating and wrap around the face
  • Snow goggles should also be carried for poor weather conditions
  • A neck gaiter
  • A peaked cap or similar
  • A silk or cotton scarf to protect your face from the sun
  • Good quality sunscreen and lip balm

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance, including emergency evacuation coverage, is mandatory on all Aurora Expeditions voyages. You will need to ensure that your insurance policy covers you for your Climbing activity. An additional policy or premium may be required to ensure you have adequate coverage. Please contact Aurora Expeditions if you need assistance with your insurance policy.

 

How to Book

This activity is available at an additional cost. It’s important to book early as it usually sells out quickly, so please let us know when you reserve a place on the expedition.

Trip Details

Arctic Complete – Spitsbergen, Greenland & Iceland

Cost: from US $ 15,600

Length: 24 days

Departures: Aug 18 - Sep 11, 2012

 


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