Where to go in the Arctic?
An Arctic archipelago halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard has a lot to offer the Arctic traveller and benefits from also being one of the most easily accessed parts of the High Arctic. In the spring, pristine snow conditions make it an ideal place for snowmobiling and dog sledding adventures. During high summer, the melting of the ice turns Svalbard’s dramatic coastline and fjords into exciting cruising grounds for expedition ships.
The Canadian Arctic is justly well known for its diverse wildlife, fascinating history, rich native culture and spectacular scenery. A vast area in total, encompassing the Canadian Arctic archipelago, a watery wilderness which in late summer thawing ice allows expedition ships to explore, following the early explorers in their search for the fabled Northwest Passage.
Long sought by early adventurers as a sea route linking the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, this labyrinthine waterway through Canada’s Arctic archipelago is no stranger to ship-based exploration. Travelling the Northwest Passage is to step back in time, following in the footsteps of Franklin, Peary, Amundsen and so many other early adventurers who gave their names in perpetuity to the islands and bays you will explore.
The world's largest island is also the least densely populated country in the world, challenging the adventurous with its vast swaths of beautiful, unfenced wilderness. From cruising the iceberg strewn water to trekking the world's largest ice cap, Greenland is a sensory assault on all levels. and its empty spaces is like a siren call for the adventure traveller.
For a few weeks each year the outpost town of Churchill on the shores of Hudson Bay becomes one of the best places in the world to see polar bears. During October and November this is somewhere you can very nearly guarantee sightings and it's been known to see over forty individuals in one day! At other times of year you can see countless beluga and in the winter the northern lights make dramatic appearances.
To travel to 90 degrees north and stand on the roof of the world at the Geographic North Pole, where all lines of longitude convergence, is a ‘Bucket List’ item shared by many. But it doesn’t have to be just a dream. Whether you travel by nuclear-powered icebreaker in high summer or arrive by helicopter in April, the North Pole is more accessible than you might think.
For seasoned travellers in search of a truly remote destination, they don’t come much wilder than the Russian Arctic. A vast, largely ignored region at the top of the world which the dismantling of the Soviet Union opened up, this is expeditionary cruising in its purest form. In late summer the pack ice temporarily moves northwards allowing access to Wrangel Island, one of the most important polar denning sites in the whole Arctic Region where polar bear sightings in significant numbers are almost guaranteed.
Dog sledding in spring, standing at the North Pole in summer or encountering polar bears in Churchill in autumn, it's the inexhaustible variety of Arctic experiences which keeps me returning again and again.
Alex Mudd Polar Specialist
Attractions & Landmarks
The vast scale of the Arctic can sometimes feel unfathomable, with 8 different sovereign states including the United States, Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden, so it can help to identify a few landmarks to shape your trip.
A visit to the bird cliffs on Prince Leopold Island promises skies filled with ducking and darting birds, an incredible sight to behold regardless of whether or not you have a passion for birdwatching. Spitsbergen's Airship Museum showcases Svalbard's long history of aviation with plenty to fascinate and inspire. For a true experience of the emerald green Aurora Borealis dancing across the sky, plan a trip to West Greenland. For those wanting to build some education into their adventure, head to Svalbard - home to Ny-Ålesund, the world's most northerly science lab conducting studies into polar research. History buffs will already be familiar with Beechey Island, Franklin's place of rest, but the abandoned huts of explorers in the Russian Arctic are also well worth considering. Finally, we would be amiss not the mention Disko Bay, with its huge sculptural ice the size of tower blocks sparkling in the low light.
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