The Arctic offers some of the most inhospitable and desolate terrain on the planet, while simultaneously offering some of the world’s most beautiful and majestic sights. Not all Arctic destinations are the same, below are some of the more interesting and unique ones.
Halfway between Norway and the North Pole lies the archipelago of Svalbard. Despite the fact that Svalbard lies so close to the North Pole, the archipelago has a relatively mild climate compared to other areas at the same latitude. Periods of fog are common during the summer.
Longyearbyen is the world’s northernmost town and is featured in an upcoming BBC documentary about the lives of those who live there. Companies offer guided tours, expeditions, even safaris for everyone from families with small children to the most die-hard adventure seekers. From the comfort of a hotel witness the wonderful dance of the northern lights shimmering through the upper atmosphere. Hike the world’s northernmost hike in the mountains north of of Longyearbyen. Check out a guided tour of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the “world’s most important room”
Snowmobile across the tundra to see polar bear, the true natives that can outnumber humans on the islands. Whale watching cruises in the summer penetrate the fjords as you are surrounded by ice floes used by the healthy breeding populations of walruses and seals. Kayak and canoe along the world famous bird cliffs to see the migrating seabird populations nest. Explore abandoned mines and deep ice caves or try your hand at dog-sledding, or go cross-country skiing among glaciers and polar bears.
Whatever your adventure, Svalbard will delight and amaze all who visit.
Traveling Alaska would not be complete without an opportunity to behold the vast wilderness expanses and unique cultures that compose Alaska’s Arctic. See the world famous Trans Alaska Pipeline and the Prudhoe Bay oilfields, explore the mighty Yukon River, or drive the rugged Dalton Highway. Fly into the isolated Alaska Mountain Range to see Denali, North America’s tallest summit.
Visit Utqiagvik (Barrow), the farthest north Inupiat Eskimo village. Immerse yourself in their wonderful culture on the shores of Arctic Ocean, near the northernmost point on the North American continent. Cultural activities may include ceremonial song and dance, traditional games, and demonstrations of local crafts. Fly or drive through history, checking out remnants of gold rush and witnessing how that mining continues, nearly 100 years later.
While 85% of Greenland is covered in ice, there is a narrow strip along the coastline that is not only green but can also be red, purple, and yellow. Greenland has more land mass than Mexico but with a population of 50,000 compared to Mexico’s 122 million making Greenland the most sparsely populated country on the planet.
Hike the Arctic Circle Trail, often listed as one of the best long-distance hikes in the world. Stretching up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the edge of the ice cap to the small fishing town of Sisimiut on the West coast. Trekking across Greenland on this trail can take anywhere between 7-12 days to complete and only 300 people hike the trail every year, so it is possible to go days without seeing other people. The normal hiking season is from June to August, but try and go mid-August to avoid the swarms of mosquitoes that plague areas earlier in summer. Prepare to be totally self-sufficient as you must pack in, and out, all your food and survival gear for the duration of the hike. There is also no cell reception either. Enjoy the hike of a lifetime through the Arctic Wilderness and leave behind the hyper-connectivity of the modern world.
Whichever destination you choose, Svalbard, Alaska, or Greenland; each offers unique experiences, not to be missed.