The pristine wilderness and raw beauty of the Arctic countries do have to be seen to be believed. Highly appreciated by those who have travelled there, they are often overlooked by those who haven’t, when evaluating holiday options. Few people understand the true diversity of adventure activities available.
These activities are operated within safe confines and can be incorporated into a vast range of destinations, as well as across many calendar months. When arranging trips to the Scandinavian countries, Greenland, Iceland, Russia, Alaska and Canada, we at Nomadic Thoughts always delight in tempting people with a combination of wilderness explorations. Whether by cross country 4×4, boat, road, sledge, foot or hoof, you can always factor in an exciting variety of Arctic-style activities.
Although the pull of the planet’s more northerly wilderness tends to dominate the mindset, on returning home some of the strongest and most thrilling memories revolve around the activities you have engaged in en route.
Iconic wildlife, big sky landscapes and the Northern Lights are without doubt magnificent. But so too are the opportunities to explore giant icefields by boat. You might appreciate the full scale of the scenery from the deck of a large ship, but you can also get within nail-scratching distance of icefields – visible from the Moon – by inflatable Zodiac rib.
Equally, taking part in a husky dog trail across open icefields, or bombing through Arctic forests on a skidoo are experiences never to be forgotten. Snowmobiling can also take you across dramatically bright barren scenery, into the depths of ice caves, across snow-carpeted valleys, on top of glaciers and through otherwise unreachable mountain terrain.
When exploring the wilder off-road regions, a hard-core 4×4 Super-Jeep gives you the freedom to navigate larger distances and hence reach remoter areas. Whether viewing the Aurora Borealis during the equinox months, or through the deepest mid-winter, the chance to get seriously far-flung is fabulous. Cross-country skiing is also a majestic way to escape into the silence of the Arctic’s wilderness.
In my experience, even hiking across hard-surface countryside can be rewarding, with many of my favourite out-cold northern experiences obtained walking near frozen waterways or scrambling up barren hillsides. The truth is that you do not have to go far to appreciate the grand-standing beauty of an Arctic destination’s phenomenal wilderness. You also quickly grasp how phenomenal an achievement it must have been for generations of indigenous people to have survived such conditions.
The Saami (Scandinavia and western Russia), Inuit (North America and Greenland) and Khanty, Nenets, Evenk and Chukchi (Russia) – who make up a proportion of the 40 plus ethnic groups living in the Arctic – have taken centuries to fathom the best formula for living and transporting themselves across the Arctic regions. So even while enjoying modern day activities, the bottom line is respect the region for what it is.
Raw, open, beautiful and brutal.
This in turn demands that when organising a trip to the frozen north, you plan your activities not only with a true spirit of adventure, but also with respect for the harshness of the environment you are about to enter. Whether sliding, sailing, sky-flying, spinning or swimming, you’ll need to be prepared.