Arctic travel
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First timers guide….

Our Polar Travel Specialist shares some tips, tricks and handy hints about first time Arctic travel. Read on and discover how you can best prepare for your first-ever Arctic experience!

Where to go in the Arctic

When people speak of “the Arctic”, they’re usually referring to the area that lies within the Arctic Circle. What many don’t realise is just how vast this space is! Encompassing the North Pole and areas of Norway, Canada, Russia, Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Finland, Greenland and Sweden, the possibilities for where you can travel to in the Arctic are seemingly endless.

With so many options, it is important to choose your Arctic destination based on what you want to see. The Canadian Arctic offers untamed wilderness, remarkable Inuit communities and Churchill is known as the world’s “polar bear capital”. Trace Franklin’s footsteps by sailing the Northwest Passage and witness the impressive Arctic wildlife, or experience the Northern Lights in Greenland.

Halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is a popular choice for people looking to see the best of the Arctic. Our Polar Travel Specialist recommends here for the abundance of wildlife and breathtaking scenery. But don’t worry– no matter what you’re looking for, there’s an Arctic cruise out there for everyone!

Best Time to Travel

Like much to do with the Arctic, it depends on what you want to see and do. The typical season is between June and September when the sea ice is thin enough for expedition ships to navigate. During this period, the daylight can last up to 24 hours. At the beginning of the season you will have a greater chance of spotting polar bears as they hunt on the edge of the ice. As the season progresses, birds will migrate south and the days will become shorter.

The timing of cruises will dictate largely when you travel.  However, if you’re set on seeing the Northern Lights keep in mind the best time is between December and April.

Choosing your Cruise

With a wide range of ships sailing to the Arctic, there is something for everyone! It is important to select an itinerary that suits the sights, wildlife and activities you are interested in. Ensure that your interests are provided for– if you are a keen birdwatcher, there are plenty of tours that showcase the stunning birdlife of the Arctic.

Many expedition cruises offer activities such as kayaking, camping, diving and photography. If you’re an avid photographer, a cruise offering photography workshops will be perfect for you! Furthermore, many vessels will offer a range of amenities and inclusions that make your time on board more enjoyable, so if you don’t fancy some Arctic diving you can luxuriate in the sauna instead…

Packing

While you may seem overwhelmed by the prospect of preparing for your adventure to the Arctic, our Polar Travel Specialist assures you a few simple tips can avoid leaving those essentials at home…

  • Layers will keep you warm but also allow you to easily adjust to different temperatures.
  • Bring binoculars! After travelling all this way, there’s no way you want to miss out on seeing some cute polar bear cubs…
  • A good camera matters. When travelling to one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, you’re definitely going to want to capture the moment.
  • Make sure you bring a comfortable pair of rubber boots. When disembarking the Zodiac, it is likely you may have to step into some shallow Arctic waters, and no one wants cold feet!
  • Pack sunglasses! Although it may seem counterintuitive for a trip to the snow, the suns rays can be strong, especially when reflected off the ice. Make sure you bring good quality sunglasses or goggles, along with sunscreen.

An Arctic expedition is an opportunity like no other– witness stunning landscapes, remarkable animals and enjoy incredible experiences. If it’s your first time travelling to the Arctic, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. But these helpful hints should give you should give you some guidance when it comes to planning the trip of a lifetime…

References:  Thank you Swoop Arctic, Eclipse Travel, Guide to Iceland, World Wildlife Org, Cruise Critic, Travel Nation, Arctic Kingdom, Responsible Travel, Audley Travel
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