Cruise, hike, ski, kayak, snow mobile or dog sled around this unforgiving but magical land
The Arctic conjures images of Peary, Amundsen and Rasmussen, intrepid, fur-clad explorers battling the elements in a quest to conquer this extreme environment. Those early explorers were treated to wildlife like nothing else on earth, to awe-inspiring landscapes carved into the bedrock by the expansion and retraction of ice through the ages and to the ice itself forming impenetrable sheets, shifting bergs and mammoth glaciers. They encountered endless days of 24 hours light in the summer and ceaseless darkness during winter, broken only by the swirling colours of the aurora borealis above them.
The Arctic has lost none of the magic or intrigue that attracted these initial pioneers, however we are now lucky to be able to visit with ease and explore in a myriad of ways.
One of the most popular ways to visit this environment is on one of the luxury small-ship cruises that can cross harsh seas easily and nimbly, meandering between the countless inlets and fjords.
In an environment that often forms the case study for the influence of climate change on the planet we only work with a carefully selected group of operators who carry out their operations in the most responsible, sustainable fashion possible.
Accommodation options aboard range from basic, sharing cabins to luxurious suites but all voyages come with an experienced team and expert naturalists to inform you about the area and its inhabitants. They often depart to and from the town of Longyearbyen, which is the main administrative centre of Svalbard, on its only permanently inhabited island of Spitsbergen. Stick to a cruise around the many islands of Svalbard in search for polar bears, reindeer, whales and walruses or head further afield on one of the longer voyages into Franz Josef Land or to follow in the footsteps of those boundary-pushing explorers before you- the North Pole.
Longyearbyen itself is certainly worth spending some time and as well as the branching off point for cruises between May and August, throughout the year it is a hub of activity and of options to explore the surrounding arctic environment. During the polar night take a guided snowmobile or dog sled trip deep into the wilderness to see the northern lights from the Trapper's Station or enjoy a cosy Scandi-inspired outpost such as Isfjord Radio for saunas, storytelling and hikes. A land still full of further surprises, you will even find Michelin star cuisine and a globally important, future proofed seed vault. The arctic certainly has something to offer everyone.