Arctic travel in Spring 2021
March comes around and spring has sprung, although perhaps not spring as you know it – the Arctic spring is characterised by temperatures well below freezing and vast snow-covered landscapes. It's for this reason that the season between February and April is referred to as the 'bright winter'. If you're seeking displays of the Northern Lights, March is the latest you'd look to visit. You can also take advantage of the thick snow, with activities like dog-sledding and snowmobiling.
The snow continues to gradually melt as the days become warmer and longer. The expeditions kick off for the year, at a relaxed pace as the area remains quieter. Treks across the region will see you walk in the footsteps of walrus and their cubs who have made their return to Svalbard.
As the memory of the winter polar night stretches far into the distance, the high Arctic begins to experience 24-hour daylight. The wildlife watching season officially begins as migratory seabirds flock to the region with the warmer air; witness Brunch's Guillemot creating an 'arring' symphony as they gather on the area's cliffs in their thousands. The giant polar bear population that Svalbard is famed for are also on the move; enjoy sightings as they begin hunting on land and by coastal waters.
Arctic travel in Summer 2021
By June the reliability of navigation across the region is greater and so expeditions really pick up. The summer months present a unique opportunity to venture far into the fjords, allowing you to see the region's wildlife in all its magnitude. Spot birds, polar bears, harp/bearded/ringed seals, bowhead and beluga whales. Arctic reindeer can be observed on pastures, spending the whole summer feeding ahead of the next winter season, and calves born in June will begin to take their first steps across the tundra.
The peak of summer, July is the warmest month and subsequently offers much scope to explore by cruise. As the birds nest in the cliffs of Svalbard, predators like gyrfalcon and the Arctic fox try their luck for fallen chicks and eggs along the foot of the cliffs. The sea ice retreat encourages whales and dolphins to roam closer the fjords, and circumnavigations of the Canadian High Artic, the Northwest Passage and Spitsbergen are also possible by the middle of the month.
This is a great time to witness the feeding frenzy among the millions of birds that have summered in the archipelago. Travel further north, and bearded, hooded and harp seals may grace you with their presence. Soak up the year's final days of the non-stop shining of the sun, the Midnight Sun phenomenon, and admire the striking contrast of the dry brown-red ground and white snow-capped mountains.
Best Summer 2021 Cruises
For the ultimate Arctic experience this unparalleled 24-day voyage is hard to beat. Created by splicing together two popular voyages, it delivers extended time circumnavigating Svalbard while maximising wildlife sightings, with exploration of East Greenland’s deep fjords and towering…
Beginning in Svalbard before arcing westwards across the Greenland Sea and then down East Greenland’s long coastline to finish in Iceland, this is an audacious Arctic journey of startling diversity and contrast. Spectacular landscapes, towering glaciers and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters…
Arctic travel in Autumn 2021
You'll want your camera for the amazing views that you can see during September. Colder temperatures and dark evenings begin to set in as Autumn makes its arrival, giving rise to better visibility of the Northern Lights. The lack of snow and ice facilitates ongoing access deep into the fjords, and the dry conditions and a lesser volume of breeding birds provide good conditions for long treks.
Almost all of the summer wildlife has made the journey to warmer climes and expeditions have ended for the year. The returning ice pushes the ships south and land based travel takes over for the hardy souls who like the cold. Fewer tourists means you're more likely to be able to meet some locals, and if you're fortunate, see the first Northern Lights. Polar bears migrate through Churchill during the month, presenting the opportunity to see these huge, beautiful creatures from a close, but safe, distance.
The snowmobile engines well and truly warm up as the outside temperature drops and snowfall paints the landscape white once more. In mid-November, daylight disappears entirely and wildlife activity is limited to polar bears hunting where the ice is forming at Hudson Bay. This is a mesmerising time to experience both the vivid night skies and life for locals during the long winter - restaurants and shops remain busy and winter activities pick up again.
Best Autumn 2021 Cruises
Land-based trips in the Arctic deliver adventure and beauty in abundance. Experiences include camping on the tundra, snowmobiling across frozen expanses, visits to colourful Inuit communities and close encounters with polar bears and belugas.
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