Chimu Adventures first two ‘Southern Lights By Flight’ expeditions took off over the weekend from Sydney and Melbourne to see the southern hemisphere atmospheric phenomenon that is the Aurora Australis. And Karryon was onboard to savour one of the incredible experiences out of Melbourne.
For decades, Australians have travelled north to the Arctic Circle in pursuit of the Northern Lights, and although the Southern Lights are just as impressive, few in Australia to date have had the opportunity to witness the Aurora Australis in person.
Until now that is.
Flying high above the clouds hundreds of kilometres from any potential light pollution, the new bespoke Chimu Adventures Southern Lights charter flights give Australian travellers the chance to enter the remote Aurora zone and trip the light fantastic at 35,000 feet, essentially without leaving Oz.
The first two sell-out 10-hour flights took off from Sydney (On Friday 9 April) and Melbourne (Saturday 10 April) with more departures to come through winter including from Perth and Brisbane until August 2021.
Aside from two hundred plus excited passengers of all ages (me included), onboard were expert astronomers to share information on the auroras and two expert photographers who were on hand to help people set up their cameras and capture the incredible scenes.
Our flight out of Melbourne departed at 9pm on Saturday night and headed south into the ‘aurora zone’ of the Antarctic Circle for 10-hours before arriving back in Tullamarine just before 6am on Sunday morning.
It isn’t easy to put the experience into words as seeing really is believing. Still, the whole journey or expedition was magical and simply like nothing I’ve ever done or seen before.
Flying in ‘Stealth mode’ which is where the captain turns off all of the lights inside and outside of the cabin to ensure complete darkness is a trip in itself and only adds to the mystery and wonder of what you see outside as the auroras shape-shift in front of your very own eyes.
Think ghostly green figures and random forms quickly appearing and disappearing to reveal countless sparkling stars near and far and you’ll get an idea of what makes this miracle of nature so highly revered.
Cue collective ooh’s, aah’s, whooping and minds blown as the plane zig-zagged through the dark night sky to follow the Aurora Australis.
For others, it was a more soul searching affair with one passenger so emotional they broke down into tears at what they saw.
Getting to enjoy the Qantas service on the coveted 787-9 Dreamliner and see the smiles on the crews’ faces too at getting back to doing what they love was also a bonus and only added to the special nature of the adventure.
For so many onboard flight QF1332, including the previously stood-down Qantas crew, this trip signified the chance to go someplace again and have a life-changing travel experience they’ll be sharing at dinner parties for years to come.
If like me you live by the maxim that travel makes you more interesting, you’ll appreciate why these flights have already proved to be so popular as ‘no ordinary flights’.
Not only is this a rare and unique travel option, but it is also safe, exclusive and provides passengers with an incredible travel experience without effectively leaving their home state in Australia.
And you don’t even need your passport.
Watch the briefing to get a better understanding of what the flights are all about
“When we were thrown into a situation where we suddenly had to organise emergency charter flights to help repatriate stricken Australians at the start of COVID 19, we never could have foreseen that an unintended by-product of that situation would be that it would give us the experience and confidence to undertake a product pivot that was still related to our core Antarctica focused business.”
Chad Carey, Chimu Adventures Co-Founder
Next stop… Flights Over The South Pole!
In another ‘first trip of its kind,’ Chimu has announced that it will be flying travellers over the South Pole in November 2021, as part of its expanded Great Southern Flights program.
For several years Chimu has offered its travellers itineraries to the North Pole on an Icebreaker, now with the addition of the South Pole Expedition flight, it positions Chimu as the first tour operator in the world to offer affordable travel experiences to both poles.
“Spending the past 16 years, cruising and flying to the stunning coastal areas of East and West Antarctica, left me with a burning desire to get a firsthand feel for the vast expanses of inland Antarctica. To truly grasp the scale of the feats achieved by the heroes of the Antarctic age of exploration, specifically during the race to the South Pole, undertaken by explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott.”
Chad Carey, Co-founder of Chimu Adventures.
“After researching Qantas’ direct Perth to London route, it looked like the 787-9 aircraft could fly to the South Pole and back in a day. I reached out to Qantas and shared my thoughts for an Australian first scenic flight to the South Pole.” Said Carey.
A first of its kind, the South Pole flight will leave Australia on the 27th of November 2021.
All Great Southern Flights flights will be carbon offset and will fundraise to support Chimu’s not-for-profit arm, the MAD Project.
There are still limited seats available for this seasons winter Southern Lights flights with four departures remaining ex Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Passengers are also covered by the Chimu Adventures Book with Confidence policy should COVID-19 cause the cancellation or delay of flights.
Click here for more information.
Main pic: Matt Leedham
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