Portfolio: Epic landscapes of the Arctic
If you think of Earth’s northernmost reaches, you will probably envisage a polar world of snow and ice. But, in fact, the Arctic Circle’s haunting landscapes are surprisingly diverse, ranging from gigantic glaciers and pine forests to verdant tundra and rugged, wildlife-rich coastlines. Wherever you go, you can be sure that you will be blown away by the region’s amazing scenery.
Between February and May, the sunlight returns on the island of Spitsbergen in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, following a long, dark winter. This is the perfect time to explore the frozen wilderness on a snowmobile.
In summer, in Iceland’s Snæfellsjökull National Park, pretty lilac lupins cover green plains that are dotted with lakes. At the end of this narrow road lies Ingjaldshóll, a former church and farm, which has a superb vista of the Breiðafjörður Fjord and a dramatic backdrop of the Snæfellsjökull glacier.
In the deep midwinter, in northern Finland, pine forests are carpeted with thick, powdery snow beneath clear-blue skies.
The simple home of a local family in Svalbard is surrounded by yellow tundra – a treeless area with a mossy landscape often dotted with low vegetation and flowers. The striking scene is backed by snowy mountains with steep slopes and jagged peaks, typical of this corner of the Arctic.
Greenland is known for its vast, thousand-year-old glaciers, ice floes where polar bears roam and, of course, its aqua-blue icebergs – ranging from brash ice and bergy bits to growlers – which float in the freezing seas.
The stunning Rapa Valley, in northern Sweden’s Ekholm Sarek National Park, harbours six of the country’s 13 highest mountains and nearly a hundred glaciers. Lying in one of the most secluded parts of Laponia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site still cultured by the reindeer-herding Sámi people, there are no roads, trails or huts – but this is a phenomenal destination for hiking and wild camping.
The magnificent cliffs at Ågelsjön are situated in the Swedish province of Östergötland, a spectacular place to go hiking or rock-climbing in summer and snowshoeing or skiing in winter.
Norway is famous for its majestic fjords – long, narrow inlets with vertiginous sides, formed by a glacier – and there are more than a thousand in the country. This remote fjord’s slopes are covered with bushy vegetation and pine trees, and the summer sunshine is creating beautiful reflections of the cloud-studded sky on the deep-blue, mirror-like water.
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