Sunny day in Antarctica, zodiac tour among small icebergs
Expressive penguin with small ship cruise in background in Antarctic

Antarctica & the Arctic - Best Tours & Trips

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. An ideal way to explore both is by expedition-style cruise vessels.

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Top Antarctica & the Arctic Experiences and Attractions


Top Antarctica & the Arctic Experiences

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Top Antarctica & the Arctic Attractions

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Antarctica & the Arctic Trip Reviews


186
Antarctica & the Arctic Tour Reviews - Summary
99% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 151 Great 32 Average 2 Disappointing 0 Terrible 1
Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8

A

Recommends

Antarctica via Buenos Aires October 2018

5.0

Antarctic Explorer via Buenos Aires

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
An amazing and unique experience would highly recommend it's worth every
penny
So many highlights but getting to see penguins, seals and whales at close
quarters was unforgettable


The expedition leader and all the staff in the team were really helpful,
knowledgeable and friendly


Spend time in Argentina before or after your trip. I wish I had tagged a few
extra days on to do hhis


Read more

Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

Above all expectations! October 2018

5.0

Antarctic Explorer via Buenos Aires

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
from start till end this trip was amazing!
Everything went smoothly, from the pre-tour info, to information at the hotel
and the logistics of the domestic flights and checking in on the boat. It
felt very safe, especially for a woman travelling alone.

The crew on board was excellent! I loved the way every guide had his own
‘field of expertise’ which covered everything you wanted to know (and
things you didn’t know you wanted to know ;-)).

The Staff was extremely helpful, happy, smiling and overall serviceminded. It
was a pleasure!
Overall the program on board made sure that you almost didn’t have an idle
moment, which for me was amazing! And the logistics of getting nearly 200
passengers into zodiacs 10 at the time, went so incredible easy, they crew
are really professional and know how to make your experience the best
possible.

I can highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants to explore the magic of
Antarctica.
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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

Absolutely awesome trip October 2018

5.0

Antarctic Explorer via Buenos Aires

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
This was one of the most amazing trips we have ever done. The scenery was
breathtaking. The crew and expedition team were cheerful, helpful and
knowledgeable. The kayaking with penguins and whales popping up feet away was
fabulous.
When a humpback whale popped up 10 feet away from our kayaks and just
meandered around us for a while.


Solan was wonderful. He has the most calm, funny and inclusive way about him.
His voice for the early morning wake up calls is like velvet.


Go! Sign up for the kayaking or some other adventure options. Be flexible.
Take loads of camera memory cards and batteries.


This is probably the most expensive trip we have ever undertaken and we have
travelled a lot. It was worth every penny. We are now looking at doing one of
the Arctic adventure trips.


Read more

Operator Exodus Travels

P

Recommends

Excellent August 2018

5.0

Antarctic Peninsula

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The best in the business!

Operator AdventureSmith

S

Recommends

A wonderful country to visit. The programme Tribes put together fitted our wishes exactly and worked perfectly. April 2018

5.0

Tribes Travel Company Reviews

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
The people were lovely; ziplining for the first time, when in ones' late 60s! the wildlife; the beauty and tranquility of the North Pacific coastline.

Operator Tribes

Antarctica & the Arctic Tours and Travel Guide


Antarctica & the Arctic Attractions & Landmarks Guide

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

 

Related Trips & Tours


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353 trips from 63 tour companies with 186 reviews

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