5 Arctic Activities for Adventurers at Heart
Are you ready to go somewhere a little more remote and wild than your usual travel destinations? An adventure to the Arctic is an experience like no other and offers sights that few travelers have been lucky enough to lay eyes on.
The barren landscapes of the Arctic Circle spread across Russia, Canada, Greenland, and Norway just to name a few countries and each destination is surprisingly full of life. Snowmobiles far outnumber cars in the remote villages and wild animals often outnumber human inhabitants.
It’s the land of the midnight sun during summer and never ending darkness in winter where only the glow of the Aurora Borealis lights up the sky. Whether you’re looking to reach the geographic North Pole or sail along the coastline of Norway or Greenland, a trip to the Arctic is a truly unforgettable experience filled with daily adventure. Here are the top experiences you can expect during an expedition to the Arctic.
See the Northern Lights
Catching the northern lights, aka Aurora Borealis, is a captivating experience. The Northern Lights have fascinated those lucky enough to see them for millennia and are steeped in legends and tales. This emerald light show has found itself on plenty travelers’ bucket lists. To find out how to see the Northern Lights, look no further than an Arctic cruise that will take you to the shores of Greenland.
In this remote part of the world, there’s very little artificial light to compete with the Northern Lights, making them extra colorful and vivid. The best times to go catch the lights are during clear cloudless nights, something Greenland is blessed with roughly 300 nights a year.
Your chances of observing the magical northern lights increase even more during the Northern Hemisphere’s autumnal equinox when clear skies are usually present and temperatures still bearable before the deep winter chill sets in. This makes the months of September and October the best time to travel to the Arctic Circle to see the natural light display.
Go Whale Watching
The things that live beneath the deep have always been fascinating to humankind. Whales are not just mysterious and enormous creatures that frequently find themselves near the surface, there’s a beauty and intelligence to them that makes whale watching a popular adventure.
Some of the best places for catching sight of whales include Disko Bay in Greenland, which is alive with humpback, fin, and minke whales throughout the summer, while Canada’s Northwest Passage is home to three-quarters of the world’s narwhals.
The High Arctic and its majestic whales can be seen via cruise ships from July through September when the summer warmth forces the pack ice to recede.
Follow the Vikings
The Vikings were renowned for their explorations across the North Atlantic. Starting from Norway, they discovered and settled Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, to as far away as Newfoundland. Arctic tours leaving from Scotland can show you some of the wild landscapes and sea routes they would have taken to go from island to island, with plenty of history to learn alongside the breathtaking sights and wildlife.
Meet the Wildlife
It takes incredible resilience to survive in the unforgiving climate of the Arctic Circle but somehow a wide range of animals have been able to call this harsh landscape home. Home to all kinds of threatened and endangered animals including the iconic polar bear, walruses, reindeer, seals, seabirds, and various whale species we mentioned earlier, the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard is known as one of the best places to observe wildlife in the Arctic.
In a place like Svalbard, the border between land and sea isn’t as clear-cut as in other ecosystems. Animals must adapt to the ever-changing presence of mobile pack ice. Unique among bears, polar bears possess slightly webbed paws that help them swim and hunt seals as they move between solid ground and ice. Svalbard is one of the best places in the world to spot these incredible animals.
Not content to just soak it all in from the shoreline or a giant cruise ship? Get on the water yourself in a sea kayak and be rewarded with a more intimate experience with the Arctic seas, shoreline cliffs, and coves. You’re also likely to get up close and personal with puffins, seals, sea lions, and other wildlife. Check out these sea kayaking tips for beginners to prepare yourself before you go if you haven’t already had prior experience kayaking.
These are just a few of the incredible sights and experiences to be had in the Arctic. As you dive deeper into the Arctic regions, you’ll discover even more adventures such as exploring ice caves, dog sledding, skiing, and special cultural events. A trip to the Arctic is definitely not an experience you should put on ice any longer.