Who said you can’t travel to the ends of the earth? Despite being located at the most northerly and southerly parts of the planet, the Polar regions are more accessible – and less barren – than you think. Forget stereotypes of desolate landscapes and extreme conditions. Instead, get acquainted with dream-like tundras, fascinating polar wildlife and frost-tinged eyelashes and beards! Here are a few of our favourite places to visit within the Polar regions and just some of the activities you can expect to enjoy during your travels.
With more polar bears than human inhabitants and one of the only places in the world where you can witness the phenomenal Northern lights, the icy archipelago of Svalbard has an allure that most intrepid travellers can’t resist. Svalbard’s array of colourful mining towns act as the various starting points to the world of adventure that lies beyond the icy peaks. Take Spitsbergen for example. As the largest and most permanently populated island in the archipelago, you can bet there’s heaps to see and do here. Specifically, no visit to Spitsbergen is complete without partaking in a polar bear-watching expedition. Whether on the back of a snowmobile or boat, there’s no better place to witness one of the world’s most vulnerable and incredible creatures in its natural habitat. If it’s adventure you’re after, you’re in the right place. Svalbard offers the chance to partake in activities you’ll never experience anywhere else. With the likes of dog-sledding, snowmobiling and glacier-kayaking on offer, it’s not just the snow and ice that will take your breath away. While its nearest neighbour might be 1,000km away, visiting Svalbard is easier than you think thanks to direct and consistent flights from Oslo, Norway.
“When you’ve seen the world there’s always Greenland”, goes the old saying. But here at Active Travel, we don’t see the point in waiting, especially when there’s a chance to experience one of the world’s most stunning islands today! While the name suggests it, this Arctic destination is anything but green. Much like its icy neighbours, Greenland boasts a thick blanket of snow and ice for the majority of the year. Despite the chilly temperatures, the resident Inuit population are extremely warm and welcoming – making your trip to Greenland even more special. Better yet, a small number of tour groups offer rare and intimate chances to visit secluded Inuit areas to understand exactly what it’s like to live as an Inuit in one of the most extreme corners of the world. For almost 5,000 years, fishing has been the backbone to the Inuit community. It’s such an integral part of this culture that joining a fishing trip whilst in South Greenland is a must-do. The south part of the island rings true to Greenland’s name. Here you’ll find lush greenery and flower-filled meadows, as well as the occasional blue iceberg that are so synonymous with South Greenland. With so much diversity on offer, a trip to the Polar regions isn’t complete without visiting Greenland!
As stunning as it is extreme, Antarctica certainly knows how to take your breath away. As the southernmost continent in the world and the home of the South Pole, you can expect temperatures to get a little chilly; -10 to – 60 degrees Celsius in fact! With an ice sheet spanning an area of almost 14 million km2 (British Antarctic Survey) and home to such extreme temperatures, it should come as no surprise that the majority of Antarctica is uninhabitable and isolated. So, how do you get there? Thankfully there are plenty of cruise companies that offer incredible and intimate expeditions through the icy territory of Antarctica. On board you’ll witness the area’s iconic ice sculptures, see Antarctic wildlife such as whales, seals and penguins, and partake in off-boat activities that many can only dream of. Sailing to Antarctica is a complete pinch-me-moment, and an experience that rewards the most intrepid travelers with a rare glimpse into one of the world’s most magical places. Many cruises depart from South America, with itineraries varying in length and inclusions so you can find the perfect expedition for you and your budget. Want to join the local albatross and view Antarctica from the sky? A number of tour operators offer fly-by experiences over the area, giving passengers the chance to see Antarctica’s spellbinding beauty from a completely different perspective. There’s even the chance to incorporate flying with a sailing expedition!
South Georgia isn’t just the gateway to Antarctica – there’s so much more to this icy island than meets the eye. Although South Georgia is only 170km long and a little more than one kilometre wide at its narrowest point, the island is teaming with wildlife – especially sea birds. Colonies of king penguins reach numbers in excess of 100,000, while on other parts of the island you can find five million macaroni penguins! As the island is such a haven for wildlife, including the elusive wandering albatross, many cruise companies specialise in bringing their passengers closer to the action. Wander through these colonies, and snap pictures next to these beautiful birds and surrounding seals, all while taking in the animal’s stunning habitats. The island possesses a fascinating whaling history, and was once the centre of the Southern Ocean whaling industry in the beginning of the 20th century. Today, visitors can view artifacts and learn more about the poignant past of South Georgia at the island’s museum. Ready to find out more about these stunning parts of the world? Speak to our team of experts at Active Travel today to see how we can help you create an adventure of a lifetime.