Your guide to the trip of a lifetime in the Arctic

Your guide to the trip of a lifetime in the Arctic
Photo: Noel_Bauza, Pixabay

The Arctic is one of the most mysterious, bewildering, enigmatic and breathtaking places in the world. Ever-shifting and ever-changing, it has amazed explorers for thousands of years. The Arctic is at times inhospitable and unpredictable, yet it exercises a magnetic pull on the human imagination.

For a wildlife enthusiast, the Arctic is bursting with marine and bird life. You’ll find four kinds of whale, six species of seal, walrus’, polar bears, Arctic foxes, reindeer, Arctic wolves, moose, millions of birds and fish and more. For the nature lover, the dream-like, beautifully bleak landscape, expansive pine forests and tundra subsoil will have you entranced.

Follow the ice’s edge and explore remote landscapes not just by ship but by foot, and via the Zodiac (landing crafts crucial for exploratory voyages). Visit the land of fire and ice, glide by glacial lagoons and explore active volcanoes. Scan the ice in search of polar bears and go looking in the midnight sun for lounging seals, grazing reindeer and colonies of birds. Travel along the fjord coastline and visit subarctic islands in search of UNESCO-protected historical sites. It really is the trip of a lifetime!

The Arctic is a place like no other. Highlights include…

Greenland

The world’s largest island is also the least densely populated country in the world. This results in challenging yet adventurous swaths of beautiful unfenced wilderness.

Greenland’s empty spaces are a siren call for the adventure traveller. The list of activities are endless, from hunting and fishing to dog sledding, museums and photo tours. Visit the small sheep farming settlement of Qassiarsuk and follow the trail of the famous viking Erik the Red. You never know, you might even answer the mystery of Greenland’s Norse, who thrived for centuries only to vanish completely in the 1400s.

East Greenland is an isolated yet very special place. The culture is deeply rooted in myths and legends, expressed in their much-coveted handicrafts. A year-round destination, it’s the gateway to climbing, kayaking, ice cap and mountaineering expeditions.

Iceland

There are few places in this world as spectacularly beautiful as Iceland. Known as the land of fire and ice, this relatively new country is famous for glaciers, lava fields, hot springs, black sand beaches and mighty waterfalls. If you love the landscapes seen in Game of Thrones, Star Wars and Prometheus, you’ve got to go to Iceland!

Hear tales of vikings and elves as you move around the beautiful landscape or take a soak in the Reykjavik hot springs. Take in the views of soaring fulmars, kittiwakes, gannets, guillemots and razorbills.

Visit between September and April and you might even be lucky enough to view the Northern Lights, the visual result of solar particles entering the earth’s magnetic field at high atmosphere and ionising.

Norway

Ranked as the world’s ‘second happiest country’ on criteria including freedom, honesty, welfare, good health and generosity, Norway is a great place to visit. There’s always a festival happening and you can almost always find fresh powder and slick slopes in one of the many ski resorts. The picturesque fjord’s, however, are the major drawcard.

Norway’s deep blue fjords, flowing waterfalls and sharp, snow-capped mountains make for some spectacular scenery. Here, the seals and eagles reign and the whales and fish patrol. Created by a succession of ice ages, the UNESCO waterfalls are accessible virtually everywhere you go. Within the communities and villages, you’ll find local traditions and fantastic food thanks to the region’s fertile valleys and waterways.

Scottish Islands

The channels between the Scottish Islands and Norway offer the opportunity to see Minke Whales, White-Beaked Dolphins, Harbour Porpoises, Orcas and more. Native to these waters, the wildlife is impressive, but so too is the scenery.

Explore the Standing Stones of Stenness and the intriguing Ring of Brodgar, visit archaeological sites, witness the curious clash of cultures in the Shetland Islands or learn about the wild islands at the Shetland Island Museum. Visit picturesque villages and haunted castles, once the stronghold of Scottish clans, and marvel at Europe’s largest seabird colonies.  

Exploring it all

The reality is that all of the Arctic is spectacular and unique. Because it’s ever-changing and each destination is so different, you could visit the Arctic time and time again and have a different trip every time. Start with these locations and when you fall in love with the Arctic, start planning your next trip, which could include Glacier Park in Alaska or a helicopter flight across Antarctica. Maybe you’ll search for Santa in the North Pole or spend summer exploring the Canadian Arctic and Northwest Passage.

Wherever you go, you’ll fall in love with the magic that is the Arctic. Start planning your adventure today.