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Top Trip Memories
  • Taking a small ship expedition style cruise in Antarctica and Arctic waters to view snow-covered mountains, fjords, glaciers, and iceburgs.
  • Setting foot on Antarctica, the world’s most remote continent, something only a tiny percentage of people worldwide can claim.
  • Watching, mesmerized, while chinstrap and Gentoo penguin chicks chase after adult penguins.
  • Spotting the many varied types of wildlife and birds that inhabit these continents such as whales, dolphins, elephant seals, fur seals, musk ox, albatrosses, polar bears, walruses and polar bears.
  • Viewing the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) as they illuminate the sky with swirling streaks of green, red, and other vibrant colors. 
  • Driving your own sled dog team in Alaska, Greenalnd, Northern Scandinavia, and other polar regions.
  • Spending time with the locals of Ittoqqortoomit, a small village in northeastern Greenland, gaining insights into their culture and day-to-day lives.
  • Sailing through the magnificent Graveyard Iceberg.
  • Sleeping overnight in an igloo or ice hotel.
  • Visiting a reindeer farm and enjoying a ride on reindeer-pulled sleighs.
  • Scouting for Humpback and Minke Whales.
  • Taking a brief dip in the chilly polar waters and earning a certificate from your ship's crew, honoring your feat.
  • Standing on your ship's deck after dark, basking in the solitude of two of the world's last wildernesses.
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Tour Tips
  • In most cases, the best way to explore the polar regions is by small, expedition-style cruise ships.
  • While any trip to the polar regions is adventurous by nature, you don't have to rough it. Some ships come with five-star amenities, while some land-tour operators offer luxury tent camping. 
  • While there are few, if any, "cheap" trips to the polar regions - especially Antarctica - look for value adds such as included airfare, helicopter flights into the interior, and gratuities for the crew.
  • Prices do vary considerably by length of trip, cabin, ship amenities, month of travel, and other factors.
  • Cruise ships that carry more than 500 passengers are not allowed to make landings on Antarctica, so to set foot on the continent itself, you need to take a smaller vessel.
  • The shortest - and most popular - sea crossing to Antarctica goes from Ushuaia, Argentina to the Antarctic Peninsula, via the often (but not always) tumultuous Drake's Passage.
  • The Drake's Passage crossing may take from 24 to 48 hours, and seasickness is common - though waters in Antarctica itself are generally calmer.
  • While most Antarctica tours go by ship, you can also fly in and/or out via the South Shetland Islands to shorten your trip and/or avoid Drakes Passage.
  • Polar tours can be as short as a few days or as long as three weeks or more. Figure at least 10 to 12 days to complete a typical tour by ship.
  • Some polar tours - primarily those that fly into the interior - offer adventurous options such as camping, skiing, mountaineering, and trekking.
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Antarctica & the Arctic Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.8 out of 5

99%

recommend

83 Reviews

Excellent 52 Great 12 Average 0 Disappointing 0 Terrible 1

Rating Details

Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8
Tour Reviews

Artic Sweden and The Ice Hotel

Arctic Sweden & the Icehotel

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes We would like to say a huge thank you to Exodus for a fantastic trip to Artic
Sweden and an Amazing Honeymoon.
Our dreams really did come true. 4 years ago this week we set off for
Kilimanjaro and started not only an incredible journey to reach the summit
but a journey of life. Exodus have played a big part in this.
I proposed to my wife Teresa at Uhuru Peak and we married last year in
August. We wanted to have a honeymoon with a difference and the trip to Artic
Sweden was just perfect.
The location at Lappeasuando Lodge was beautiful. A white wilderness of snow
and ice but with superb accommodation, excellent and delicious cuisine (all
much better than the trip notes describe) and very very friendly and helpful
staff. We were also fortunate the group of us (11 in total) completely
"gelled" and consequently we all had so much fun and adventure.
After Kilimanjaro we had no hesitation in booking Exodus again and as for our
previous trip they have delivered beyond our expectations.
Dog Sleds - Our guide for the dog sleds was Sabine. She had 30 dogs and 11
tourists to look after and she did it brilliantly. Sabine knew all her dogs
by name, character and which dogs would fit the individual dog sled teams.
She was so passionate about what she did. We had so much fun. The dog sleds
were the highlight of the trip. It was an awesome experience to travel over
frozen lakes and through forests whilst handling the dog sleds. The dogs can
go quite fast. There is also the opportunity to feed the dogs and be very
much involved in the ultimate winter adventure.


Franzisk Kohler, our main group guide was excellent and she has a team of
staff to match, Thierry, (full of fun, so calm and relaxed) Gunte (who served
us a delicious breakfast was always smiling) and of course the other staff
behind the scenes to include the chef, housekeeper and waitress could not do
enough for us.


Be prepared to get stuck in and enjoy every moment of it. Ignore the cold, it
really is ok at minus 25.
The Northern Lights are incredible but there is no guarantee of seeing them.
After a week in the wilderness we experienced the most amazing display from a
frozen lake next to The Ice Hotel.


Our last night at the Ice Hotel will be an experience to treasure forever. It
is quite incredible. The rooms, the staff and the restaurant were fantastic.
It is actually not bad sleeping at -5
We also witnessed the most awe inspiring event ever, the Northern Lights.
Although we had glimpses of them during the week, what we saw on our last
night was unreal. Standing on a frozen lake near to the Ice Hotel we saw an
incredible light show of natural phenomenon and we have some amazing
photographs to show for it.


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Cross-country Skiing in Oulanka National Park, Finland

Cross-country skiing in Oulanka National Park

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Cross-country skiing in the Finnish wilderness, with a few night's lodgings
in a renovated hut, far away from the hustle and bustle of any dwelling.
Fantastic opportunity to experience the beautiful and incredibly peaceful
scenery, whilst energetically swishing along on skis.
At the end of the day you're treated to a hearty meal, made from local
produce, and of course a Finnish sauna to set you up perfectly for the next
day.
The guides are very knowledgeable about their local environment and are
passionate to uphold a sustainable lifestyle.


Welcoming, very friendly, expert skier and keen to help improve your skills.


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Great trip to see Northern Lights

Arctic Lights & Whales

5.0 April 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes We had a wonderful holiday, and cannot recommend Andy Friluftssenter enough. Nigel and Ingvild went out of their way to make us feel welcome and ensure that we had a good time.
If you are searching for the Northern Lights, you need to accept that nature will not always play ball and so it is important that you enjoy the rest of your time here and treat the Northern Lights as a bonus rather than the only reason for coming. We had heavy cloud cover and snow for three days, but for our last night the cloud disappeared and we saw the Northern Lights. We had a bright full moon, without which they probably would have been even more spectacular. Even if we had not seen them, we would have had a great few days, with the wonderful views and lovely food. My wife is a coeliac, and the gluten free bread and rolls they baked were delicious, and they also coped with a lactose intolerant guest. All food is local with each night a different meal. Cod, Char and Moose pie were delicious and then on the last night venison cooked in front of us on an open fire in a Lavvo, while we popped in and out looking at the lights.
We had a different activity in each day, a trip to the Andoya research centre, where we learnt about the Northern Lights, and had great fun in a simulated space mission. On the second day, we had a visit to a reindeer farm to meet the jolliest of Sami farmers, and learnt about her traditions and met the reindeer. On the third day we went ice fishing on a lake, and cooked what we caught on an open fire. Each day was different and thoroughly enjoyable, and was much more fun and interesting than I had expected.
We went in early March, and despite being in the artic circle, it was not too cold, apparently due to the Gulf Stream. So pack lots of thin layers, and ski gear is fine. There is no light pollution (other than the moon) so there is no need to go driving long distances to search for the Lights, you literally do walk outside and look upwards. If you want to take photos though, you must have a tripod.
We thought that a four night trip was going to be one night too long, but in fact it was perfect, the variety of activities meant every day was different, and of course there is a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights. In our case if it had been a three night trip, we would have missed them.
So overall an excellent trip, we had good company, excellent hosts, and of course we were fortunate to see the Northern Lights. Easy for us to say now, but we really would have enjoyed it if we hadn't seen the lights.
The last night was very special. Wonderful food cooked in the Lavvo, dashing in and out to look at the changing Northern Lights.

Nigel was excellent. Went out of his way to ensure we had as enjoyable a holiday as possible.

Be prepared to have a wonderful time, even if you don't see the lights. Pack as if going on a ski trip.

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Arctic Sweden and Ice Hotel

Arctic Sweden & the Icehotel

4.0 April 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Overall the trip was well organised and very enjoyable. Seeing the Northern Lights and the Ice Hotel were the two highlights for me. The dog sledding was amazing, with such a knowledgeable and great leader. The wilderness camp was also wonderful, especially as that was where we saw the Northern Lights for the second time.
The night in the Ice Hotel was so much fun, and not really cold. The sleeping bags were excellent.

We did not have one, we had a number. All were good, the only problem was swapping from one to the next. The coordination could have been a little better.

Do ask about the clothing. Luckily I had taken my own snow suit, but on the day we arrived at the Ice Hotel, then went off to visit the reindeers before checking into the hotel, some of the group found themselves without adequate clothing. We had been told that Arctic clothing would be supplied throughout. Maybe we could have got it from the hotel - I don't know and this was one time when the leader cross over failed.
Otherwise the trip was great fun!

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Delightful trip to a peaceful place

Snowshoeing in Finland

5.0 April 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes The remote forests of Finland are a very peaceful place, and tramping through them in snowshoes is an ideal way to immerse yourself in their tranquillity. The trees are laden with snow and you cannot hear a thing. It feels like a scene from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - you half expect to come across a lamppost and a fawn.
The centre is well run, and the guides are absolute enthusiasts and keen to pass one their passion for the trees and the wildlife. At night the stars are bright, and the Northern Lights make an eerie appearance.
All in all, a magical place. The UK seems very busy when you get home.
The completely monochromatic appearance of the trees, lakes and snow on cloudy days.
Rolling in the snow after the sauna

Heli was lovely - she had real enthusiasm for the environment. I have never before hugged a tree, but now know we need to say thank you to them!
She was also very organised and kept a subtle eye on all the party, to make sure no one got left behind or had difficulty.

Trust the gear provided - we did take our own base layers, socks and buff - but that was all you needed. Their gear was all fine - 3 layers for top and bottom / gloves and mitts / hat / backpack / torch etc.

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Classic Itineraries

Antarctica & the Arctic Trips & Tour Advice

The earth's Polar Regions -- Antarctica and the Arctic -- are among the last great frontiers for adventurous travelers. While they both have cold weather and ice in common, the northern and southern extremes of the world also have big differences. Antarctica, the White Continent, is under international jurisdiction and maintains strict guidelines on the numbers of ships and passengers that can land there each year. Penguins and marine mammals are huge draws. The Arctic ranges across a number of countries and has no penguins, but it does have polar bears and more marine mammals. Travel is restricted only by the laws of the various countries and the relative scarcity of transportation.

An ideal way to explore both is by expedition-style cruise vessels. In Antarctica, only vessels carrying fewer than 500 passengers can actually land on the continent itself, and no more than 100 passengers can go ashore in one place at any given time.

In the Arctic region, more routes are opening up to cruising, such as the Northeast Passage from northern Norway to Siberia and Alaska via the Russian Arctic.

Antarctica

The world’s southernmost continent is also the highest, driest, coldest, and by far the least populated. 

Besides several species of penguins and various marine mammals, the only residents are scientists and support staff who conduct research at the 20 or so national stations, and most of those are there only during the summer months. Few remain beyond one or two year stints there.

With tourism to Antarctica really only opening up in the 1970s, and with just 30,000 or so visitors there per year, it’s safe to say that fewer than one and a half million people have ever set foot on this remote continent. If you get to go, savor your good fortune.  

The Antarctic tourist season runs from late October or early November to March or early April, the summer months when the waters off Antarctica are comparatively ice free. The earlier months bring penguin and elephant seal courtship rituals, while the later months see the birth of penguin chicks and seal pups. By March the adult penguins are mostly headed out to sea, but whale and seal sightings increase. December and January bring the most daylight hours, prime time for photographers.

Where Can You Go?

While there are a number of approved landing sites for small vessels, only a relative few are commonly visited. Port Lockroy, site of the British Antarctic Survey, is the most visited site, drawing more than 10,000 visitors per year. Passengers board Zodiacs (rubberized rafts) to go ashore, with most ships making one to three landings per day on the Antarctic Peninsula or nearby islands.

One wild card factor to consider is the weather, which can be stormy and erratic and play havoc with the itineraries the cruise lines have planned. Ice is a constantly changing variable. Special icebreaker ships are required to go deep into Antarctic waters, though some “highest ice class” expedition-style cruise ships can cut through ice as much as a meter thick. A few icebreakers challenge the often frozen Weddell Sea in search of emperor penguins. 

Flexibility and the willingness to change course at a moment’s notice – on the part of both the ship’s captain and the passengers – is key to a successful Antarctic journey.

The Arctic

The Gulf Stream and generally warmer temperatures than in Antarctica help make Arctic exploration more accessible than in its southern counterpart, offering a number of choices for experiencing life above the Arctic Circle. 

Greenland is ground zero for climate change, as its glacial ice – representing about eight percent of the world’s supply – is rapidly melting, threatening to raise ocean levels and temperatures. But much of its interior remains a wonderland of white, and icebergs still fill its bays. Fascinating towns and small settlements dot both west and east coasts, which you can visit either by small cruise ship or via land and air transportation. 

Only a tiny fraction of Iceland lies above the Arctic Circle, but this volcanic land of black lava, geothermal pools, moon-like landscapes, and neat, brightly painted houses is one of the far-north’s most visited areas. Part of Europe but lying a third of the way toward the North American continent, Iceland boasts one of the world’s most literate populations and is easily accessible by air as well as sea. 

Small ships now make the journey to Spitsbergen (Svalbard), a Norwegian island archipelago hundreds of miles north of the top of continental Europe. Spitsbergen is home to some of the farthest north settlements in the world, as well as glaciers, icebergs, and an array of wildlife including polar bears, walruses, and flocks of seabirds. In northern continental Norway and Finland, you can ride in reindeer sleds and visit the Sami, the nomadic people who drive their reindeer herds through the frozen wilderness.

Be Among the First

Transiting the Northeast Passage – from Europe to Asia via the Russian Arctic – represents a new thrill in Arctic exploration, now available by expedition-style cruise ships with high ice-class ratings. Until recently, this area was off limits due to both political and climatological reasons. The cruises visit Murmansk, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle, and continue through the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean to Russian Siberia until reaching Nome, Alaska. Expect to see polar bears, whales and seals along the way. 

Northern Canada is a far cry from the urbanity of the cities lying near the U.S. border that harbor most of this huge country’s population. The town of Churchill in northern Manitoba is the place to see polar bears and Beluga whales, while the vast, remote province of Nunavut beckons adventurous travelers to encounter Inuit villages that include the northernmost permanent settlement in the world. 

Most visitors to Alaska confine themselves to cruises along its southeast coast or inland trips to Denali National Park, but the state’s remote Aleutian Islands and far northern tundra area stretching north to Nome offer adventurous travelers an entirely different experience in the “Last Frontier.” You can go dog sledding in Arctic Alaska, fish for salmon in far northern waters, watch for bears and birds, and get around by small plane (or properly equipped vehicles along rough roads).


Related Guides

Countries: 

 Greenland, Antarctica, Arctic, Iceland, Norway & Scandinivia

Attractions:

 Drake Passage, Paradise Bay, Deception Island, Lysefjord and Many More

Top Activities: 

 Small-Ship Expedition Cruise, Snowmobiling, Dog sledding, Watching Aurora Borealis and Many More

 

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