Antarctica, the last great frontier, remains largely unpopulated with just the occasional research station. Along with the Arctic, it presents huge geographic barriers as the driest, coldest and least hospitable environments on the planet. Yet, we believe they offer some of the most astounding travel experiences. From the safety of a modern cruise ship, you can follow in the footsteps of the great explorers by day, and return to comfort of your cosy accommodation at night. The south is best explored from November to March, the north from June to September.
Stand transfixed among thousands of Emperor penguins as whales, seals and seabirds go about their affairs with total nonchalance.
To get to Antarctica you’ll travel from Argentina’s Tierra de Fuego on an expeditionary ship. These combine the spirit of adventure with the modern creature comforts you’d expect. Watch as towers of ice glide past, dotted with drifting blue-green icebergs –but the scenery is only half of the magic.
Almost unchanged since the days of Scott and Shackleton, these freezing waters and marine mists are home to a huge concentration of wildlife. Zodiac expeditions ashore are guided by expert naturalists. Stay up late with your camera and you’ll be rewarded with the languorous twilight of the polar night, a photographer’s dream.
It’s even possible for visitors to climb Antarctic peaks or kayak icy waters. But there’s nothing quite like the sheer expanse of the polar ice cap for you to reckon with the reality of global warming. The remoteness, the cold, the scale of the ice, the strange, altered rhythms of life here present a challenge. Ice and weather, not clocks, control the timetable.
The Arctic is centred on the North Pole which is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean much of which is frozen, obviously more so in winter than summer. The Arctic Ocean stretches across Canada, Russia, the USA, Greenland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. The high latitudes of the Arctic mean the scenery is always changing with a distinct summer and winter seasons. The Arctic Circle where conditions of 24 hours of daylight can be experienced in the summer months is relatively easy to reach.
The epic landscapes that make up and shoulder the Arctic regions are truly breath-taking; iceberg cities, fjords and glaciers that date back to 100s of years and barren landscapes deep in the Northwest Passage make this a once in a lifetime adventure, a bucket list destination which yearns to be explored. In the far north of Svalbard, in the Norwegian Arctic, you’ll see glacier fronts, icebergs and mountains. Enjoy Aurora Borealis throws up its dazzling display of lights.