Arctic destinations: what are the options?
If you are thinking about joining an Arctic expedition, you may be wondering where you should go and what the options are.
The Arctic spans one–sixth of the area of the Earth, featuring some of the most wild, untamed and majestic landscapes. The most popular destinations for Arctic expeditions include Greenland, Iceland, Spitsbergen, the Northwest Passage and the Canadian Arctic. Some of these destinations are combined in one voyage, while other expeditions intend to focus on only one of these Arctic gems.
This is the largest island on our planet Earth. Arctic expeditions offer you to visit the east, south & west regions of Greenland and explore some of the most massive glaciers and spectacular fjords on earth. This is the place to spot muskoxen! The best time to visit Greenland is Late August- September & October. This period of the season will provide more chances of witnessing the northern lights also known as aurora borealis. There are different factors that may influence the possibilities of experiencing them: a clear sky, solar activity, darkness (period of the year) and latitude.
Where do these trips usually start? Some of Greenland’s expedition start in Reykjavik where you take a Charter flight to Constable Point where you’ll embark your vessel. A few trips start or end in Akureyri.
Spitsbergen is a Norwegian territory and possesses amazing polar wildlife. This is why it is sometimes called the “Wildlife Capital” of the Arctic. In this region you’ll have the opportunity to spot walrus, reindeer, the arctic fox, whales, seals and seabirds. Spitsbergen is actually known as the land of the polar bear so get ready to be on lookout for these stunning creatures. Although there are Spitsbergen-only focused voyages, this destination is sometimes combined with Iceland and Greenland!
Where do these trips usually start? Most Spitsbergen/Svalbard Expedition start in Longyearbyen (part of Norway, can be reached by flight from Oslo).
Russian High Arctic
Most of the remote Franz Josef Land is dominated by glaciation and it offers visitors the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of famous polar explorers at several historical sites. This Russian archipelago is home to some interesting geological features: have you heard of the mysterious stone spheres on Champ Island? Get ready to enjoy ice in all its splendors as in these far northern latitudes it is possible to encounter sea ice even in summer.
Where do these trips usually start? Longyearbyen
Canadian Arctic & Baffin Island
Baffin Island is home to Inuit towns and villages like Kimmirut, Pangnirtung and Pond Inlet. These peoples have thrived in this harsh environment for thousands of years. You can experience their unique lifestyle and culture in the small communities that dot Baffin Island’s extensive coastline. Artisans craft beautiful jewelry from different semi-precious gems, soapstone and other stones. If you are lucky you might enjoy the presence of walrus, whales, muskoxen, lemmings and wolves!
Where do these trips usually start? Longer trips may start in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland or Ottawa, Canada (sometimes with a charter flight from Iceland or Northern Canada)
If you plan to retrace the steps of legendary British explorer Sir John Franklin and his lost crew and interact with remote communities in the Canadian Arctic, the Northwest Passage could be your ideal Arctic route.
Where do these trips usually start? Ottawa, Canada
The North Pole
The Ultimate High Arctic Adventure awaits you if you are ready to set foot on the North Pole. You’ll embark one of the most powerful nuclear icebreakers to get to the top of the world. As long as the weather allows, you can join a helicopter sightseeing ride or a hot air balloon adventure.
Where do these trips usually start? You fly from Helsinki, Finland to Murmansk in Russia where you embark the icebreaker!
Polar expeditions are one of the richest travel experiences you’ll ever have, and the Arctic has so much to offer that it can get tricky to choose where to go. No matter what you decide, the Arctic won’t leave you unchanged!
Photo Credit: Diego Punta Fernández