Aurora Tracks See Northern Lights

How to See the Aurora Australis / Aurora Borealis ANTARCTICA

aurora australis aurora borealis antarctica

Intrigued by the icy continent of Antarctica? In this guide, we discuss the ins-and-outs of visiting and seeing the aurora borealis Antarctica.

Let’s face it: Antarctica is not your everyday travel destination. It is difficult to access, dangerously cold, and definitely not for the faint of heart. Each year, only handfuls of people ever see the frozen southern continent, and it remains possibly the most untouched and mysterious location in the world.

For those willing to take on the ultimate adventure, Antarctica is an interesting choice. It’s also the only location in the world where the aurora can be seen reliably, being the only land within the southern auroral zone. In this guide we discuss whether it is possible to see aurora borealis Antarctica, when to see them, and how to get there.

Can You See Aurora Borealis Antarctica?

You cannot see aurora borealis in Antarctica, but you CAN see the aurora australis.

The northern lights are considered by many to be the most awe-inspiring natural phenomenon on the planet. For millennia, mankind has stared up to the heavens and observed the auroras, forever forming the myths and legends of old. But you can only find the northern lights at the North Pole. At the South Pole, you will find the aurora australis (southern lights) instead.

  • Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) = North Pole = Arctic
  • Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) = South Pole = Antarctica

The greatest difference between the two is that the Northern lights are more accessible due to the greater landmass found within the northern auroral oval. By contrast, the only land within the southern auroral oval, is in Antarctica.

When Can You See Antarctica Southern Lights?

The southern lights over Antarctica exist in perpetuity. They are always there, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

During the day, the southern lights cannot be seen from the surface of the planet, due to interference by the sun’s light. Likewise, in the middle of summer there is almost endless daylight, like the midnight sun in the north pole.

As a result, the best time to view the aurora australis is during the wintertime when the nights go on forever. However, Antarctica is not hospitable to travelers in this season. During the wintertime, the temperatures can drop down to a negative 120° F (negative 84° C).

As a result, the best time for viewing the Antarctica southern lights is in March.

How Can You Visit Antarctica Southern Lights?

To be honest, there are very few ways to view Antarctica southern lights. Since there are no roads to drive on, access is limited to either air or sea.

By Air

One of the most popular and affordable ways to view the aurora australis regardless of the time of year is by air. There are a number of different tours that offer flights in and around Antarctica for the purpose of viewing the southern lights.

In Australia, Chimu Adventures offers a 16-hour tour aboard a 787 Dreamliner. In New Zealand on the other hand, Viva Expeditions also offer a 10-hour trip aboard a similar Dreamliner. Both providers fly out over the South Sea, with a guaranteed viewing of the elusive lights.

By Sea

The second most popular way of viewing the southern lights is also the most expensive. There are several companies that provide cruises out to the Antarctica Peninsula, which provide ample opportunities to view the southern lights from the ground.

However, due to weather and solar conditions, there is no guarantee that a traveler will see the lights. Nevertheless, when traveling by sea there are plenty of other things to keep travelers busy, including hikes, kayaking, and a wide variety of different sightseeing opportunities.

Tours to See Antarctica Southern Lights

Below are the tours and cruises currently taking travelers to Antarctica, offering a potential glimpse of the elusive southern lights. As mentioned above, Antarctica is very difficult to access, thereby offering very few travel options. In many cases, they are also very expensive, making these tours prohibitive to many travelers. Regardless, here is a selection of tour options for the curious and adventurous…

South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula

Enjoy a 10-day expedition to one of the most remote destinations on the planet and experience all that Antarctica has to offer.

Although there are a number of different tour providers, offering expeditions to Antarctica by sea, these Antarctica cruises can be quite expensive. This popular 10-day voyage to Antarctica is one of the more affordable choices available today. The smaller Ocean Atlantic has a capacity for just under 200 travelers and makes its way across the Drake passage towards the South Shetland Islands before continuing on to the Antarctica Peninsula.

Tour Highlights

Like many of the more popular cruises to Antarctica, this popular adventure departs from Ushuaia, Argentina. Heading out to see via the Drake passage, the cruise will head out towards the South Shetland Islands, where you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with Penguins via a zodiac. From there, the cruise will head out to Antarctica where it will pass the Gerlache Strait. Here you will see cliffs of ice rising more than 3,000 feet above the water. Depending on the weather conditions, the crews may return to Ushuaia, or may also go to Tierra del Fuego.

What’s Included
  • 10 Days Accommodations
  • Full Board
  • Hot Tea and Coffee 24 Hours a Day
  • Zodiac Landings
  • Loaning of Expedition Parka
  • Loaning of Rubber Boots
  • Professional Guides
  • Expert Lecturers
  • English-Speaking Team
  • Taxes and Surcharges
  • Photo Workshop
  • Welcome and Farewell Gathering
  • Digital Journey Log
Why It’s Popular

This tour is without a question one most affordable ways to spend 10 days exploring the Arctic. Not only will you be able to view the dramatic coastlines from the safety of the ship, but you will also be able to join landing parties via zodiac. With less than 200 travelers aboard each cruise, this tour provides one of the most personalized experiences imaginable.

Polar Circle Air Cruise

Spend more time exploring the Antarctica wilderness by flying directly to the continent from beautiful Punta Arenas, Chile

While many other tours depart by boat from Ushuaia, Argentina, a lot of time is spent traveling from South America to the shores of Antarctica. When you fly into Antarctica instead, you will be able to save travel time, which can be better spent experiencing all that the continent has to offer you. This air-cruise trip will take you down 66 degrees south of the equator, where you will be able to experience the Antarctica wilderness firsthand.

Tour Highlights

During each trip, the expedition team will make every attempt to reach the polar circle. Situated around 66 degrees south of the equator, the polar circle is further than most explorers of the past had ever reached. You will spend most of your time outdoors exploring all that the continent has to offer via kayak, hiking, or even snowshoeing. Expert polar guides will help you every step of the way as you make your way further south than you ever thought possible. Get up close and personal with nature as you push yourself further than the great explorers of days gone by.

What’s Included
  • 10 Days Accommodations
  • All Meals Aboard Ship
  • Hot Coffee and Tea throughout Voyage
  • Complimentary Beverages Aboard Ship
  • Includes Flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island
  • Transfer to and from Hotel
  • Zodiac Excursions
  • Expert Lecturers
  • Evening Entertainment
Why It’s Popular

When it comes to a truly adventurous experience in the rugged Antarctica wilderness, nothing beats the Polar Circle Air Cruise. By flying into King George island, you will have more time to spend exploring the frigid continent. From there, you will have 10 days with an expert expedition team as you push your way ever closer to the polar circle.

Antarctic Explorer Express

Save time by flying from Ushuaia across the Drake passage to King George Island, and spend more time experiencing all that Antarctica has to offer.

You will have 9 beautiful days to explore one of the most untamed regions on the planet. Once you arrive at King George Island, the adventure begins almost immediately. From there, you will have the opportunity to take a short trip across to the Antarctica Peninsula where you will be able to enjoy amazing excursions on a zodiac as you explore the waters that are home to the largest mammals on the planet.

Tour Highlights

Throughout your trip to Antarctica, you will have plenty of opportunities to get acquainted with the fledging penguin chicks and other wildlife that inhabit the secluded bays and coves that dot the coastlines of Antarctica. With the help of a zodiac, you will be able to get up close and personal with some of the most spectacular sites imaginable. Not only will you be able to see penguins and seals, but even whales.

What’s Included
  • Airport Transfers
  • Hotel Accommodations in Ushuaia
  • Charter Flight to King George Island And Back
  • Hotel Accommodations and Punta Arenas
  • Accommodations Aboard Ship
  • Full Board Aboard a Ship
  • Complimentary Beverages
  • Zodiac Excursions
  • Loaning Expedition Parka
  • Loaning Waterproof Boots
  • Access to Onboard Medical
  • Educational Lectures
  • Port Surcharges and Fees
Why It’s Popular

Explore all that Antarctica has to offer, in less time than other traditional cruises to the continent when you fly across the Drake Passage and land on King George island instead. You will have a total of 9 days to enjoy as much of the polar wilderness has to offer including seals, penguins, and whales. Get an up close and personal experience of the frigid continent.

Southern Lights by Flight

When it comes to viewing the southern lights over Antarctica, no other expedition can guarantee that you will see the aurora australis like Chimu Adventures can.

Undoubtedly the most popular way of viewing the southern lights is by taking the 16-hour flight from Australia out over the Southern Sea, where you will be guaranteed to see the auroras for hours on end. High above the clouds, where there is no light pollution to obstruct your view, you will get your first glimpses of the southern lights less than 3 hours after takeoff. Fly in comfort aboard a 787 Dreamliner, as you climb to cruising altitude in search of the elusive lights.

Tour Highlights

With the help of expert astronomers and professional photographers, you will have an experience like no other. High above the Southern Sea, the glowing lights of the aurora australis will fill the inside of the cabin as you cruise along the shores of Antarctica. Throughout the flight, a team of expert astronomers will provide plenty of information about the southern lights and constellations in the night sky. There will also be a team of professional photographers who can assist you in taking the best photos imaginable.

What’s Included
  • Choice of Seats
  • 2 Full-Service Meals
  • Full Bar and Soft Drinks
  • In-Flight Entertainment System
  • Knowledgeable Experts
Why It’s Popular

The only possible downside to this very popular Antarctica southern lights flight is that they are constantly selling out. You will need to plan months in advance if you want to take a flight over the polar circle to view the aurora australis. At just over $1,200, this flight is the most affordable way to view the dancing lights. No other tour to Antarctica can guarantee that you will be able to see the southern lights, let alone, be able to see them for hours on end.

Final Thoughts on Aurora Borealis Antarctica

This brings to a close our travel guide to seeing the aurora in Antarctica. Although it is not possible to see the aurora borealis Antarctica, it is possible to see the aurora australis instead. The aurora australis, as we discuss in our article on how to see the aurora australis here, is basically the same as the northern lights but on the other side of the world.

One thing to note with regard to seeing the aurora australis / aurora borealis in Antarctica is that it is no easy feat. It is very difficult to access, as well as expensive, and your ability to access the frozen continent is dependent on the flights and cruises that go there. While it is possible to theorize on the best times of year to see the Antarctica southern lights, the reality is that you will be beholden to the flights and cruise lines schedules.

If you’re up for the adventure, a visit to Antarctica is unlike any other travel experience you will ever have, offering so much more than just a glimpse of the aurora.

Happy travels!

Endorsements Disclaimer. Some of the links in this article may be "affiliate links", a link with a special tracking code. This means if you click on an affiliate link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. The price of the item is the same whether it is an affiliate link or not. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers. By using the affiliate links, you are helping support our Website, and we genuinely appreciate your support. Learn more on our About page.

Comments. Our articles are not open to comments, however, if you have a correction, question or suggestion concerning this article, please Contact Us directly.