10 reasons to visit the Arctic with cazenove+loyd
Earth’s northernmost region is characterised by polar conditions, unusual flora and fauna, blue ice, magnificent fjords and other bleak but breathtaking landscapes. Centred on the North Pole, the Arctic Circle encompasses eight nations, including Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut), Denmark (Greenland + the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA (Alaska).
Exploring the Arctic is one of the most memorable travel experiences you can have. My fellow Destination Expert, Arturo, and I both consider our adventures here to have been defining moments in our lives. As busy London residents, the chance to drink in the pure air, tranquillity, emptiness and majesty of such an otherworldly place returns you home feeling refreshed, motivated and privileged.
Highest on the wish list of many Arctic visitors are encountering polar bears and seeing the Northern Lights – but there is so much more to do and see in this winter wonderland. From designing an unforgettable trip to meet Father Christmas in Finnish Lapland to an exhilarating journey with your own team of sled dogs to a remote radio station-turned-luxury hotel, we can do it all.
Arturo and I have 12 years’ combined experience working in the polar regions. Therefore, we know the area exceptionally well and can create an extraordinary tailor-made trip that is perfectly suited to you, providing you with the best specialists and guides.
Here are 10 reasons to travel to the Arctic:
1. It’s a remote and unique destination
You can’t compare the Arctic to anywhere else on the planet. Small pockets of human life survive in this huge land of ice caps, mountains, glaciers and polar bears in a way that is hard to imagine. They live with simple pleasures and minimal mod cons. In some places, a plane brings provisions once a month, and the rest of the time, they hunt seals and fish. Huskies are the transport method of choice.
2. There are phenomenal wildlife-watching and birding opportunities
There are many hotspots for Arctic fauna, but in our view, nowhere beats Spitsbergen in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Both Arturo and I have enjoyed sailing around this island on separate trips, continuing on to Greenland and Iceland. We spotted polar bears, reindeer, Arctic hares and foxes, walruses lounging on beaches, blue whales blowing in the distance and fin whales alongside the ship. In addition, we saw the cliffs brimming with squawking sea birds in their thousands.
3. The scenery is epic
Greenland, in particular, is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. Far from just being covered in snow and ice, this dramatic polar region has surprisingly diverse landscapes that are all as awe-inspiring as each other – ranging from colourful mountains, red earth, pebbly beaches, tundra with wild blueberries, mosses and wildflowers to rivers, lakes, glaciers and icebergs.
4. You can see the Northern Lights
One of the main reasons to go to the Arctic is to see the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), an unbelievable natural phenomenon where eerie green, pink and white lights dance across the night sky. During the Arctic winter, there are numerous amazing places where you can enjoy this spectacle in Lapland and Iceland. On Spitsbergen, between November and January, you can sometimes see the Northern Lights even during the day as it is so dark.
5. Father Christmas lives there
In the festive season, you can give your children a truly enchanting experience by taking them to meet Father Christmas himself in Finnish Lapland. With our close connection to the Elves, the great man himself will know your little one’s favourite toys, colours and the name of his or her best friend, making the visit even more magical.
6. It is a real adventure
Embarking on a literal voyage of discovery is not something we often do on holiday, but setting sail aboard a ship in the Arctic is a true expedition. The anticipation as you pull away from the port and civilisation is tangible, and that frisson continues for the whole cruise as every day is unpredictable and new. And on land, what could be more intrepid than traversing the great white wilderness on snowshoes or gearing up your own team of sled dogs and racing your friends.
7. There are myriad exciting activities to try
There are so many fun things to do in the Arctic. The snow, of course, lends itself to skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and snowmobiling; and when the ice melts, you can go kayaking and even snorkelling and scuba-diving in some places.
8. The glaciology and geology are fascinating
The last Ice Age buried most of the Arctic deep underwater so, inverse to the Antarctic, it is a vast ocean surrounded by land, comprising European, Canadian and Russian territories. When the ice melts in the summer, a geologist’s dream emerges. However, the ice itself is enthralling too, and you will learn about brash ice, bergy bits, floes and more. The Greenland Ice Sheet, for example, is the world’s second-largest ice cap. Its sheer size is absolutely jaw-dropping.
9. The Arctic is a photographer’s paradise
The Arctic Circle is nirvana for keen photographers. The wild panoramas are completely pristine and the wildlife is curious, resulting in flawless shots of nature. Add to this the incredible light: if you travel in August and September, the sun will approach the horizon, momentarily touch it, before rising again, meaning you observe sunset and sunrise almost simultaneously. The multicoloured reflections on the sea and ice are impossibly beautiful.
10. The region has an interesting history
Go back to the age of great explorers and the Arctic features heavily: Robert Peary, Frederick Cook, Rear Admiral Sir John Franklin, Fridtjof Nansen, Erik the Red, Sir Edmund Hillary, Richard Weber and Roald Amundsen to name a few. All of these polar pioneers have inspirational stories, and following in their footsteps is a major draw. On expeditionary voyages, there is often an accompanying history specialist who can teach you how they paved the way in mapping and discovered this inhospitable but astonishing environment.
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