The Arctic

Epic by name, astounding by nature, the Arctic Circle is both figuratively – and literally – about as far off the map as destinations come. A pristine natural Eden of mighty mountain peaks, awesome glacial structures and pretty much every shade of blue known to man, this winter wonderland is often almost too beautiful to be true. Polar bears, whales, reindeers and walruses dot the ice-strewn land and seascapes, while wildflowers bloom on the inland plains, and, come the seasonal equinoxes, Aurora Borealis throws up its dazzling display of lights. Enchanting, stark and utterly removed from human civilisation, the Arctic really is ‘poles apart’ from the typical travel experience.

Arctic tours & travel

All our Arctic trips

DAYS
13
FROM
USD $7,295
CAD $10,005
AUD $10,500
EUR €6,500
GBP £5,000
NZD $11,515
ZAR R98,725
CHF FR7,595
Soak up the essence of the Arctic on a voyage around Spitsbergen. Discover wild beaches and towering glaciers, and...
DAYS
11
FROM
USD $6,495
CAD $8,385
AUD $8,800
EUR €5,700
GBP £4,400
NZD $9,650
ZAR R82,740
CHF FR6,365
Discover the essence of the Arctic on a trip around Spitsbergen, where polar bears, glaciers, fjords and Inuit...
DAYS
15
 
 
Travel the ancient Norse route from Scotland to Spitsbergen via the west coast of Norway. Embrace culture, wildlife...
DAYS
14
FROM
USD $8,695
CAD $11,240
AUD $11,800
EUR €7,600
GBP £5,900
NZD $12,945
ZAR R110,945
CHF FR8,535
Discover the wild beauty of the Arctic in Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland. Be charmed by polar bears, cruise...
DAYS
12
FROM
USD $6,995
CAD $9,620
AUD $10,100
EUR €6,300
GBP £4,800
NZD $11,080
ZAR R94,960
CHF FR7,305
Set sail from Norway and discover the history, landscapes, icebergs and wildlife of Spitsbergen. Travel along fjords,...
DAYS
13
FROM
USD $7,995
CAD $10,290
AUD $10,800
EUR €7,000
GBP £5,400
NZD $11,845
ZAR R101,545
CHF FR7,810
Fly one way over the Denmark Strait to Greenland then cruise back on this Arctic adventure that reveals this remote...
DAYS
13
FROM
USD $7,995
CAD $10,290
AUD $10,800
EUR €7,000
GBP £5,400
NZD $11,845
ZAR R101,545
CHF FR7,810
Head out on an Arctic adventure of a lifetime in Greenland, departing from Reykjavik. Cruise spectacular fjords,...
DAYS
10
FROM
USD $5,995
CAD $7,715
AUD $8,100
EUR €5,200
GBP £4,100
NZD $8,885
ZAR R76,155
CHF FR5,855
Fly from Iceland to Greenland and encounter breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, gigantic icebergs, traditional Inuit...
DAYS
13
FROM
USD $8,445
CAD $11,625
AUD $12,200
EUR €7,500
GBP £5,700
NZD $13,380
ZAR R114,705
CHF FR8,825
The beauty of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic are on full display on this two-week adventure that takes in icebergs...
DAYS
20
FROM
USD $13,945
CAD $19,150
AUD $20,100
EUR €12,500
GBP £9,500
NZD $22,045
ZAR R188,985
CHF FR14,535
Get a dose of Arctic culture and see how people have survived these beautiful ice-strewn landscapes on this polar...
DAYS
20
FROM
USD $13,945
CAD $19,150
AUD $20,100
EUR €12,500
GBP £9,500
NZD $22,045
ZAR R188,985
CHF FR14,535
Combine wildlife, unparalleled scenery and visits to remote communities on this journey through the Arctic’s famed...
DAYS
13
FROM
USD $7,495
CAD $10,290
AUD $10,800
EUR €6,700
GBP £5,100
NZD $11,845
ZAR R101,545
CHF FR7,810
Set sail from Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen to Franz Josef Land, discovered just 150 years ago in far north Russia. Visit...
DAYS
14
FROM
USD $28,745
CAD $38,490
AUD $40,400
EUR €25,800
GBP £19,600
NZD $44,315
ZAR R379,850
CHF FR29,215
Take the ultimate expedition and voyage to the North Pole. Stand on top of the world at 90° north and feel the rush...
DAYS
8
FROM
USD $6,895
CAD $9,365
AUD $9,370
EUR €6,047
GBP £4,756
NZD $10,229
ZAR R87,697
CHF FR6,745
Spend eight spectacular days exploring Somerset Island’s Cunningham River area. Search for beluga whales, learn about...
DAYS
10
FROM
USD $9,519
CAD $12,916
AUD $13,000
EUR €8,343
GBP £6,642
NZD $15,091
ZAR R127,694
CHF FR9,443
Spend eight spectacular days exploring Somerset Island’s Cunningham River area. Search for beluga whales, learn about...
DAYS
3
FROM
USD $19,995
CAD $25,820
AUD $27,100
EUR €17,400
GBP £13,800
NZD $29,725
ZAR R254,800
CHF FR19,600
Travel on this intimate journey from Longyearbyen to the remote Barneo Ice Camp, constructed each year in the North...
DAYS
9
FROM
USD $5,195
CAD $6,670
AUD $7,000
EUR €4,500
GBP £3,600
NZD $7,680
ZAR R65,815
CHF FR5,060
Breathe in the crisp Arctic air and discover Spitsbergen, the largest island in Norway's wondrous, icy Svalbard...
DAYS
13
FROM
USD $7,295
CAD $9,430
AUD $9,900
EUR €6,400
GBP £5,000
NZD $10,860
ZAR R93,080
CHF FR7,160
Discover the wild beauty of the Arctic in Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland. Be charmed by polar bears, cruise...
DAYS
14
FROM
USD $8,395
CAD $10,860
AUD $11,400
EUR €7,300
GBP £5,800
NZD $12,505
ZAR R107,185
CHF FR8,245
As the northern lights dance above, explore Northeast Greenland National Park and spectacular Scoresby Sund on this...
DAYS
18
FROM
USD $9,690
CAD $12,480
AUD $13,100
EUR €8,400
GBP £6,700
NZD $14,370
ZAR R123,170
CHF FR9,475
From Reykjavik to Ottawa, explore the wildlife-rich fjords and Inuit communities of Greenland, Iceland and Baffin...
DAYS
13
FROM
USD $8,390
CAD $10,860
AUD $11,400
EUR €7,400
GBP £5,800
NZD $12,505
ZAR R107,185
CHF FR8,245
See the best of the Canadian and Greenlandic Arctic. Explore the peninsula of Baffin Island via Sam Ford Fjord, and...
DAYS
13
FROM
USD $7,995
CAD $10,290
AUD $10,800
EUR €7,000
GBP £5,500
NZD $11,845
ZAR R101,545
CHF FR7,810
Soak up the essence of the Arctic on a voyage around Spitsbergen. Discover wild beaches and towering glaciers, and...


Articles on the Arctic region

Best of Instagram: want to know what Svalbard really looks like?

Posted on Fri, 22 Apr 2016

Svalbard is about as close as most mortal are going to get to the North Pole. So if you want to know what to expect there, this it it...

Read more

Life in the north: our top 6 Arctic wildlife experiences

Posted on Wed, 20 Apr 2016

One thing the Arctic does have is wildlife. Lots of it. On a size and scale that puts a lot of the more traditional ‘animal destinations’ to shame.

Read more

Total eclipse of the heart: one traveller’s astronomy quest in Svalbard

Posted on Wed, 9 Sep 2015

First contact saw a massive cheer erupt and the special eclipse viewers we’d been given were out in force.

Read more

Ask The Experts: The Planet D’s guide to Polar travel (Q&A)

Posted on Thu, 26 Mar 2015

Deb and Dave, collectively known as The Planet D, are kind of a big deal in the travel blogging circuit. They’ve been to over 100 countries on all seven continents […]

Read more

 

About The Arctic 

Best time to Visit 

Due to the North Atlantic Stream, the climate in Norway is noticeably warmer than what might otherwise be expected. During the summer season, temperatures hover between 4C and 6C, which is a good 20C higher than what one would typically encounter at similar latitudes in Canada or Russia. Mid-May to mid-August is the best time to go, while October through to April are the coldest and rainiest months. The Northern Lights are visible from parts of Norway, with September to April usually presenting the optimal conditions for viewing.

Geography and Envrionment 

The Svalbard region of the Arctic is a sparse and rugged landscape of craggy mountain peaks and gorges. Much of the land is covered under snow and ice year-round. The only kind of vegetation on the island is a brownish green moss that sprouts up in patches across the mountainsides, as well as some quite beautiful Arctic flowers that bloom during the year’s warmest months.

Top Picks

 
Top 5 Arctic Wildlife to Spot
1. Polar Bear
The iconic symbol of Svalbard, the polar bear is not only the largest bear going around, it’s the world’s largest land carnivore. Some 500 polar bears are thought to inhabit the island at any one time. But don’t limit your spotting skills to land. As exceptionally good swimmers, polar bears spend more time at sea than on land, and have even been spotted paddling about in open seas 300 km from shore.

2. Arctic Fox
Spotting these fleet-footed puppies is thankfully easier during the summer months, when its snow-white fur turns to a dusty grey. Often living in a complex network of burrows, housing multiple generations, they have remarkable hearing that enables them to detect and dig through to prey scurrying about under the snow.

3. Sperm Whale
Despite having been hunted almost to extinction during the 18th and 19th centuries, these days sperm whales can often be spotted trawling the archipelago’s waters for their diet of fish and squid. The largest toothed whale in the world, it can grow to 18 metres in length, and possesses the largest brain in the mammalian kingdom. Because females and their young usually travel in pods of up to 20 whales, if you see one of them, you’re likely to see a lot of them.

4. Walrus
True blubber-boys of the animal kingdom, the Arctic’s walruses can weigh up to 1,700 kg, thanks to a six-inch layer of insulating tissue. Often spotted lolling about on the icebergs and rocky shores, they’re conspicuous by their sizeable tusks, which they use - icepick style - to help haul their blubber butts out of the water and over land.

5. Svalbard Reindeer
With a population currently pegged at approximately 10,000, this is the smallest subspecies of reindeer. Despite their slight size, these animals are highly mobile, often travelling up to 5,000 km in one year - the greatest known distance of any land mammal.
 
 

FAQs on The Arctic 

Tipping is done on a voluntary basis in Norway and at the discretion of the customer. If the service in a cafe or restaurant is good, feel free to leave spare change or round up the bill.

Several public internet terminals exist in Longyearbyen, all with very good connections. Do not expect internet connectivity elsewhere.

There is good quality telephone coverage in Longyearbyen, though do not expect it elsewhere. Ensure you have global roaming activated before leaving home if you wish to use your mobile phone.

Western-style, flushable toilets are the standard around Svalbard, though at very remote outposts a pit toilet will likely be the go.

Beer = 50 NOK
A pizza = 80 NOK
Meal at a mid-range restaurant = 120 NOK

The tap water in Svalbard is considered safe to drink. Surface water should be boiled before consumption because it could possibly contain tapeworm eggs.

Credit cards are accepted in Longyearbyen, though don’t rely on them for small purchases.

There is one ATM in Longyearbyen’s post office. It's best to withdraw your money on the mainland, however, in case it's out of order.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-intrepid/our-services

Svalbard celebrates the same public holidays as the rest of Norway.


Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
 
From Australia?
 
From New Zealand?
 
From Canada?
 
From US?
 
From UK?
 
The World Health Organisation also provides useful health information: 
 

Responsible travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

The Arctic travel tips

 

Top responsible travel tips for The Arctic

1. Don’t use aircrafts, vessels, small boats or other means of transport in ways that disturb wildlife, either at sea or on land.

2. Don’t feed, touch, or handle birds or seals, and don’t approach or photograph them in ways that cause them to alter their behaviour. Special care is needed when animals are breeding or moulting.

3. Don’t damage plants – for example, by walking, driving, or landing on extensive moss beds or lichen-covered scree slopes.

4. Don’t take ‘souvenirs’ of rocks or flora off the island.

5. Don’t use guns or explosives. Keep noise to the minimum to avoid frightening wildlife.

6. Don’t bring non-native plants or animals into the Arctic, such as live poultry, pet dogs and cats, or house plants.

7. Know the location of areas that have been afforded special protection and observe any restrictions regarding entry and activities that can be carried out in and near those areas.

8. Don’t damage, remove, or destroy historic sites or monuments, or any artefacts associated with them.

9. Don’t interfere with scientific research facilities or equipment.

10. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

 

Further reading

Recommended reading

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule by Joanna Kavenna
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places by Bill Streever
The Solitude of Thomas Cave by Georgina Harding

 

Handy links

www.lonelyplanet.com/norway/svalbard
www.visitnorway.com/en/Where-to-go/North/Svalbard
svalbard.nordicvisitor.com/travel-guide/
www.travellerspoint.com/guide/Svalbard

Was this page helpful?