From the rainforests of Costa Rica to the history rich coastlines of England, Scotland and Wales, Aurora’s expert Expedition Team finds both iconic sights and hidden gems to share with passengers onboard small ship expeditions to some carefully selected global destinations.
As part of Aurora’s Discovery series, these voyages include a mix of off-the-beaten-track locations along with well known and accessible sights. Our purpose-built expedition ships and zodiacs easily access coastal villages, bays and islands and we use land based transportation including our own two feet to find local trailheads, natural monuments and historical sights.
Here are ten can’t miss moments on our Global Experiences Bucket List:
10. Zodiac to Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa, Scotland
Located in the Inner Hebrides of northern Scotland is the Isle of Staffa. Formed fully through volcanic activity, Staffa is known for its caves and basalt columns, similar to those found on the Giant’s Causeway of Northern Ireland. Explore Fingal’s Cave by Zodiac and listen to the melodious sound of waves crashing against towering basalt pillars which reportedly inspired Mendelssohn’s Hebridean Overture.
9. Spot an El Hierro giant lizard, Canary Islands
El Hierro is the smallest and most south westerly of the Canary Islands and is famous for its volcanic landscape, remarkable rock formations and diverse flora. The island is home to the El Hierro giant lizard. With a broad head, dark, robust body and long tail, the indigenous giant lizard can measure up to 60 centimetres (24 inches) and has long been an emblem of El Hierro, where it lives on the island’s rocky, arid terrain. The giant lizard is close to extinction and is now protected by international law. The Centre for the Recovery of the El Hierro Giant Lizard, also known as Lagartario, is a research centre that studies the giant lizard and runs breeding programs to boost numbers. Visit the centre to see these enigmatic creatures and to learn about the conservation efforts to protect them.
8. Search for sloths and monkeys in Costa Rica
Boasting over 100 species of mammals, 184 species of birds and an impressive variety flora, Manuel Antonio National Park understandably attracts wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world. Costa Rica’s star attractions – two and three toed sloths, as well as white-faced monkeys, toucans, agoutis, armadillos and coatis are a few of the exciting animals that you may encounter within the park.
7. Delight in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Mevagissey England
As if from a fairy-tale, the 57-acre gardens were lost for 70 years beneath a mass of ivy, brambles and fallen timber. In 1991, they were ‘rediscovered’ and have been beautifully restored to incorporate rockeries, summerhouses and a crystal grotto. Explore the gardens and marvel at this once-forgotten world. As well as being named ‘Large Attraction of the Year 2018/19’ at the Cornwall Tourism Awards, the Lost Gardens of Heligan also won the prestigious British Travel Award for Best UK Leisure Attraction in both 2016 and 2017.
6. Dive and Snorkel Coiba Island, Panama
Coiba Island, a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located off the southwest coast of Panama. The national park includes the main island of Coiba and 38 smaller islands in the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriquí. Visit the area of Granito de Oro islet, a unique place that allows snorkellers to encounter a diversity and volume of marine life that is usually reserved for scuba divers. This is one of the world’s most sought-after diving destinations. The park is home to many marine species, including dolphins, humpback whales, sperm whales, orcas, whale sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, and white-tip reef sharks. 760 species of fish have been recorded here, including Barracudas, Snappers, Amberjack, and Marlin.
5. Guanaco spotting and trekking in Patagonia
Immerse yourself in the treasures of Chilean Patagonia. Discover the dramatic alpine scenery and fascinating wildlife of the Torres del Paine National Park. Ascend through the Ascencio Valley along the renowned W Trail or take in the stunning views on the lesser-known Lazo-Weber trail. Keep your eyes peeled for Andean condors, rheas, flamingos and guanacos. Closely related to the llama, guanacos are one of the largest terrestrial mammals in South America. While they are usually found at very high altitudes, in Patagonia they are found lower down, where food and grazing is possible.
4. Kayak the Pembrokeshire Islands, Wales
Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm are a trio of neighbouring islands named by ancient Viking visitors. They are located off the coast of southern Pembrokeshire and are celebrated for their exceptional wildlife. The islands are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and are included within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in West Wales. Kayak the splendid coastline of the islands and bring along your binoculars to watch for the amazing birdlife like Razorbills, Gannets, Guillemots and southern Britain’s largest Puffin colony.
3. Explore a Mission Blue Hope Spot in Azores, Portugal
Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the archipelago of the Azores is where three continental plates meet. It is an area that attracts large numbers of whales and adventurous sailors. Dr Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue recognises the Azores archipelago as a Hope Spot and says, ‘The Azores archipelago is a magnet for life. It really is a magical place.’ Snorkelling the Azores uncovers a stunning underwater world created by volcanic activity. The nutrient rich waters attract sea turtles and a variety of tropical fish, rays, dolphins and whales. Despite being located in the mid-Atlantic, volcanic heat makes many snorkeling sites warm and inviting.
2. Hike the royal estate Balmoral and spot wildlife in Cairngorms National Park, Scotland
Listed by National Geographic as one of the top 50 of the World’s Last Great Places, Cairngorms National Park is graced with lush forests, serene woodlands, charming villages, and a rich history and heritage. Hike on the beautiful Balmoral Estate, home to Balmoral Castle – the royal family’s summer residence, and through ancient woodlands past a series of cairns and monuments erected by the Royal Family over the years. Spot red deer, golden eagles and even the rare capercaillie found in Glen Freshie.
1. Daytime crossing of the Panama Canal
Each year, over a million people visit the canal to witness this engineering marvel at work. Starting in the Pacific Ocean, you will be able to admire the Bay of Panama and Panama City’s splendid skyline before passing under the ‘Bridge of the Americas’. The ship will then transit through the Miraflores Locks, where it will be lifted 16 metres (52 foot) in two distinct steps, followed by the Pedro Miguel Locks, where the vessel is lifted 9 metres (29 foot) in one step. Travel through the Gaillard Cut, which was carved through the Continental Divide, this section of the canal is full of history and geological value.
In the Atlantic sectors, at Gatun Locks, the vessel will be lowered a total of 26 metres (85 foot) in three distinct chambers.
The complete crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean takes approximately 10 hours, a journey that once took almost two weeks to complete, when vessels were forced to sail around the notoriously rough seas around Cape Horn at the bottom of South America to reach the Pacific coast.
Go global and start ticking off your Bucket List experiences.
Arctic & Beyond 2023-24 Season Brochure
Explore our brand-new Arctic & Global 2024 season, full of life changing adventures across the wildest and most remote destinations around the globe. Featuring 15 departures exploring the Arctic and 3 voyages to our global destinations.
Dive into our new 112-page brochure to go on your next life-changing adventure.