Highly sociable and curious cetaceans, belugas are called canaries of the sea for their bird-like calls. Experience the legendary midnight sun: the ethereal light of the northern summer, when the sun never sets. And its a dry town, he says, half laughing, although not with his eyes. There are all kinds of rules and regulations now, he sighs. Depart on an overnight flight to Oslo and check in to our hotel upon arrival. Capture it all beside National Geographic photography experts or view it from our exclusive polar igloos. Embark the National Geographic Endurance or National Geographic Resolution, our floating base camp for the next six days. The poetic collective noun for polar bears is an aurora, but around the community of Kaktovik they may be more accurately described as an inevitability of polar bears. While changing my cameras memory card, I ask Riley if hes tempted to stay for winter. He shakes his head and explains that even in summer, this distant outpost feels too isolating. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome cocktail reception and then the evening is free to explore Oslo with dinner on your own. Residents of the town on the north shore of Barter Island live alongside the bears, the largest living species in the Ursidae family. Eat sea urchins. Hike through miniature gardens blooming on the tundra, and scan the edges of the pack ice for walruses, seals, reindeer, and polar bearsthe iconic emblem of the arctic. We'll travel aboard theNational Geographic Resolution, purpose-built for polar exploration, featuring a panoramic rooftop observation deck and an expedition base with state-of-the-art Zodiac loading bays for rapid response to wildlife sightings. Helicopter tours provide a birds-eye view of the spectacular landscape of snow, ice, water, and rock, along with plenty of polar bear sightings. Take a full-day Tundra Buggy excursion, searching for polar bears along the shores of Hudson Bay and learning about threats to the species and their habitat. Its another one of those moments that underlines just how serrated this edge of America can feel, how to people from the nations Lower 48 statesor farther afield like melife up here is distant and ultimately unknowable, even when its right in front of us. An hour later, the gentle perfection of this scene is forgotten when we see two males in the water, grappling with each other with the fury of drunk berserkers. After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight. Nature hits all high notes in this Canadian sub-Arctic realm, a land of polar bears, belugas, and the brightest of northern lights. The sun sets over a frozen lake on the arctic tundra in November near Churchill, Manitoba. Experience dazzling, ice-covered landscapes that have long captured the imagination of explorers on a polar expedition aboard the National Geographic Endurance, National Geographic Resolution, National Geographic Explorer or the National Geographic Orion. Longyearbyen is home to a diverse community of scientists from Russia, Germany, Thailand, and beyond, stationed on the island to study the Arctic environment or employed in nearby mining operations. How does it taste? The skeletons of bowhead whales lying on nearby sandbars like the wreckage of old ships could conceivably belong to equally venerable specimens. Discover unusual Arctic flora and tidewater glaciers on walks with naturalists, and spot huge walruses, bearded and ringed seals, arctic foxes, and reindeer. All rights reserved. Imagine watching polar bears in the wild alongside a naturalist expert from Polar Bears International, one of the world's leading organizations dedicated to protecting these amazing animals. Photograph by Andreas Gebhard, Getty Images. Meet your CEO for a welcome dinner and group meeting. Fun fact: Unlike most whales, belugas dont have fused neck vertebrae, so they can turn their heads to look back at you! Photograph by Alan Dyer, Stocktrek Images | Nat Geo Image Collection, Monarch butterflies are now an endangered species. Sit down to a picnic on the tundra and opt to go dogsledding through the region's breathtaking landscapes on a one-of-a-kind wildlife adventure. From Oslo, head to the land of the midnight sun to explore these glittering islands aboard the National Geographic Endurance or National Geographic Resolution. We plan to make an in-depth visit to this beautiful island, with opportunities to explore its surrounding fjords by Zodiac and kayak, and hike on shore. Many locals have large, mean-looking dogs, which here, at 70 degrees north, maintain their winter coats and surliness all year long. See how stones, strength, and smarts built Stonehenge. More fire. All the remnants of these great creatures would seem more gruesome to me if they werent being put to use, werent so vital to the Iupiat. Copyright 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, Copyright 2015-2022 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Dorothy is Iupiat but she also has some Scottish and English heritage. And in that light, he says, sinking the whale carcasses seems like an especially unnecessary move. Svalbard lies north of the Arctic Circle, where the summer sun never sets. Its been that way since the late 1960s, but if Kaktovik aint pretty, then PrudhoeNorth Americas largest oil fieldis a carbuncle in the permafrost. PBI is the worlds leading polar bear conservation group dedicated to saving polar bears by saving their habitat. Be one of the first guests to travel aboard the state-of-the-art National Geographic Resolution, exploring Svalbard in springtime as the archipelago comes to life. No road reaches Kaktovik, leaving it at the mercy of the vagaries of Alaskan light aircraft. In fact, the number of interactions with the townsfolk has risen; bears are frequently found wandering around Kaktovik. I dont think the darkness really bothers us too much here because we grew up with it, says Dorothy with a dismissive wave of her hand. Book your flights early, as Churchill currently is accessible only by plane. Sail south to isolated Bear Island, the southernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome cocktail reception and then the evening is free to explore Oslo with dinner on your own. This evening, enjoy an informal talk with a local from Churchill who will talk about what life is like living in a far north, remote Canadian town. Then visit the Fram Museum, dedicated to the wooden ship sailed by Norwegian pole explorers such as Nansen and Amundsen. Bruce Inglangasak, who runs Kaktovik Arctic Tours, relocated to Kaktovik 20 years ago from Northern Canada. When Bruce speaks, he does so with the slow rhythm of a strolling bear, almost as though he resents having to form the words at all. On arrival, visit the Svalbard Museum to learn about the history of Svalbard and the Arctic, from 17th-century whaling to modern scientific research. During my time in town, a local shoots a polar bear for allegedly trying to kill his hound. Senja, the second largest island in mainland Norway, is characterized by dramatic mountains, colorful fishing villages, and a coastline split by beautiful fjords. A high Arctic archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is a place of deep fjords, snow-capped mountains, and massive sheets of ice. Standing next to a set of whale jawbones, planted in the black sand to make a macabre gate, the air feels insidiously cold. Polar bears!, (The surprising reason polar bears need sea ice to survive.). That took a while.. Valid for new bookings made by October 31, 2022, subject to availability on select departures. All rights reserved. In the southern part of the island, youll find nderdalen National Parkmore than 70 square miles of pristine wilderness that is home to reindeer, elk, red foxes, and more. Green lights are the most common; red and blue are more elusive. Its latitudes are so extreme that to see it on a map is to wonder if the air is thinner up here. Yet, here in a town thats recorded winter temperatures of minus 61F, its perhaps understandable that function must always be prioritized over form by its 250 human residents; aesthetics are sacrificed to pragmatism. Many effectively act as bear alarms. Centuries of habituation mean they havent gone elsewhereyet. Sit down with a resident of Churchill who will entertain us with a presentation and stories about what life is like in an isolated Northern Canadian town. I take a walk around town in the Arctic gloaming, willing the sky clear for a chance later to see the aurora borealis. Attend a private cocktail reception with some of the representatives from Polar Bears International. The adult sits down on the brownish sand, immediately sullying her pristine white coat, then, in a moment of uncanny tenderness, lets the youngsters in to suckle. In a region ruled not by humans but by polar bears, we let nature guide our course. Outside, lengths of baleen call to mind pampas grass as they flutter in the Alaskan breeze. When the spring whale is caught, we have a big celebration, including the blanket toss, continues Dorothy as we start to say goodbye. (This is the best place to see northern lights in the U.S.), A member of the Iupiat community, his manner is at once terse and illuminating. Sometimes polar bears wander nearby, and I can think of few images more jarring than a modern symbol of natures fragility coming face to face with this vast gouge of unclean industry, the bears white fur metaphorically and perhaps even literally spattered with corporations black oil. Arrive at any time. In the pristine Svalbard archipelagothe land of the polar bears and search for polar bears and walruses along the edge of the pack ice. One of the best ways to spot Ursus maritimusthe polar bearis on a tundra vehicle tour, both in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area and beyond. (Discover an isolated Alaska island where walrus sing.). A high Arctic archipelago situated between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is a place of deep fjords, snow-capped mountains, massive sheets of ice, and magnificent polar bears. Circumnavigate Iceland to experience an enchanting land of geological extremes, or encounter icefjords and the entrance to the storied Northwest Passage on Exploring Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic. Call for details. Boat tours bring visitors to waters often frequented by belugas. Were not even 10 minutes out of Kaktoviks rudimentary harbor before weve seen a cautious mother with two young cubs, the larger one at the front, a younger, smaller sibling scurrying behind like its forgotten its schoolbag. Watch for polar bears return to the spring hunting grounds to coincide with the seals pupping. But when conditions are ideal, even Kaktovik can be beautiful. This evening, join representatives from Polar Bears International (PBI) for a private cocktail reception. Enjoy a free morning to visit some of the local shops or opt to take a dog sledding excursion or helicopter flight. Dorothy is quick to acknowledge that the oil industry has altered the way of life up here, but she believes climate change will have an even bigger impact. While between projects, the 27-year-old heard about wild work skippering boats and searching for polar bears for Kaktovik Arctic Tours, so decided to swap one uncommon job for another. Sail deep into beautiful fjords and kayak quiet coves surrounded by sparkling icebergs. In the evening join us for welcome drinks and dinner. Invasive green crabs: If you can't beat them, eat them. This trip is operated in collaboration with Lindblad Expeditions. After lunch, visit the Parks Canada Interpretive Centre for an educational presentation about the National Park Service and its history in the Churchill area. Want to help Californias kelp forests? We tell our new friends: dont think about the remoteness too much, and dont seclude yourself. Explore the lesser visited islands of Srya and Senja, known for their pristine wildernesses and charming fishing villages. I hunt and I fish and I support my family.. I give him a hopeful look that asks: Could we possibly do that today? But a small landslide of his eyebrows tells me that, no, we absolutely cannot. With the guidance of a National Geographic photographer, take advantage of incredible photo opportunities beneath the midnight sun: the ethereal light of the northern summer, when the sun never sets. Im Scottish and, even at those comparatively generous latitudes, coping with parsimonious winter daylight is a challenge for most, and impossible for some. Continue to Bear Island to encounter towering cliffs populated with thousands of seabirds. In the afternoon, embark on a tour of Norways capital city. Disembark in Troms, known as the gateway to the Arctic for the numerous Arctic expeditions that originated here. On an afternoon tour of this charming city, visit the Fram Museum to learn about early Norwegian polar expeditions and stroll Vigeland Sculpture Park, home to more than two hundred life-size human figures by native sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Or, as Riley puts it: Pretty is the one thing this town aint. However, unappealing as it may look, Kaktovik is probably the most reliable place on Earth to see wild polar bears, without the crowds and commercialism of places like Churchill in Manitoba, Canada. Jamie Lafferty is a writer and photographer from Scotland. We explore serene fjords in Zodiacs, gliding beneath tidewater glaciers and cruising around beautiful icebergs, and we step right off the ship onto the frozen sea, conditions permitting. February and March, with their dark and clear evening skies, offer ideal viewing conditions. At this question Dorothy wrinkles her nose: Well, OK if you boil it for long enough.. On arrival, visit the Svalbard Museum to learn about the natural and cultural history of Svalbard and the Arctic, from 17th-century whaling to modern scientific research. I listen intently, trying to catch the report of one of those ancient bowheads, but the only thing I can really hear is my own teeth chattering, so I retreat to the warmth of the Latitude 71 BnB, where generous owners Myron and Susan McCumber revive me with a mug of hot chocolate. Stonehenge was one triumph amid an ancient building boom. This illustrated graphic takes you through one of the greatest and most enigmatic engineering achievements of all time. Nonetheless, its ruled justified self-defense and the man is only given a warning. Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in Svalbard. We are joined by a species expert from Polar Bears International who will share their expertise on polar bears and their habitat. As a result, visitors arent allowed to walk around at night.
I cant describe his hair to you because over the three days Im with him, hes never without a thermal hat. By winter, most of the bears will be out on the sea ice. All rights reserved. Svalbard lies north of the Arctic Circle, where the summer sun never sets. I dunno about that, she chuckles. In the evening, fly back to Winnipeg for our final night. A polar bear approaches the remnants of a bowhead whale in Kaktovik, Alaska. Ahead, the water is remarkably calm, appearing heavy like double cream as it slides off into an infinite mist. The Heritage Center has detailed exhibits looking at the minutiae of what it all means spiritually and economically to the Iupiat. Book either departure of Svalbard in Spring: Polar Bears, Arctic Light, and Epic Ice at full price and get 20% off one select departure of Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands, Journey to Antarctica, or South Georgia and the Falklands for travel January 2022 through March 2023.
A warehouse stands in front of peaks in Alaskas Brooks Range, which stretches 700 miles across the state into Canada. View the spectacular, extended golden hour inside our exclusive polar igloos. I had to take all the training, go through all the paperwork. Copyright 1996-2015 National Geographic SocietyCopyright 2015-2022 National Geographic Partners, LLC. For outsiders, including myself, the immersion into Iupiat culture requires rapid adjustment. Churchill calls itself the polar bear capital of the world. A gateway to the Arctic, this tiny town 600 miles north of Winnipeg, Manitobas capital, sits on the remote western shore of Canadas Hudson Bay. They were scouting for oil but found a ziggurat instead, How innovative tech reveals Stonehenge's secrets as never before, These 5 secret societies changed the worldfrom behind closed doors, This Renaissance 'superdome' took more than 100 years to build, A rare look at postwar Korea emerges from long-lost photos, Fierce and female, these 7 warriors fought their way into history, Why tick-borne diseases have reached epidemic proportions, Unique 'spear lord' dinosaur to be returned to Brazil, The overlooked toll of drinking alcohol while pregnant, Breast cancer spreads more aggressively during sleep, Explore a fusion reactor that may herald a new energy future, Of shark moves, shell shocks, and trash landings on the moon. Bookings of 3 full-fare paying guests may bring a fourth person for free on select 2022 departures. I think somebody was pulling your legthat bit is really just for fun.. In here, close to the whaling exhibit, I meet guide Dorothy Levitt. Now the whales taken from these waters each year account for no more than 0.5 percent of the population, making it a sustainable catch. This illustrated graphic takes you through one of the greatest and most enigmatic engineering achievements of all time. Don snowshoes to explore snow-blanketed landscapes in the tradition of history's most intrepid explorers. Elsewhere in the Arctic, spotting the planets largest land predator can be a bit of a lottery, requiring binoculars and considerable luck. (Should polar bear hunting be legal? I mean no booze at all, man.. Lots dont last until Christmas, but it really depends on how you react to the environment., How about the darkness? Bowhead whales are thought to be the longest-lived mammals on Earth, with a lifespan of up to 250 years. Depart Oslo on a private charter flight, and enjoy views of the southern fjords en route to Longyearbyen. Off Norways northern coast lies the mountainous island of Srya, known for its scenic bays, pristine nature reserves, and long sandy beaches. For example, when I ask whether or not he feels American or even Canadian, he exhales as though doing an impression of a horse before replying: I feel like an Iupiat because I lived that lifeI still live it today. Both sets of forebears were lured here by commercial whaling in the early 1900s, and while the limited hunting that takes place today serves a different purpose, it does still happen to considerable fanfare every spring and autumn. National Geographic Endurance or National Geographic Resolution through Day 9. Today Churchill attracts visitors from around the world with its wildlife-watching and aurora-viewing opportunities. Board a Zodiac to explore the coves and inlets of this mist-shrouded island. Depart on an overnight flight to Oslo and check in to our hotel upon arrival. Known as Barrow from 1901 until 2016, its the northernmost city on the mainland of the Americas, making it a tourist attraction in its own right, although the majority of its 4,500 residents (around 60 percent of whom are Native Alaskan) are involved either directly or indirectly with the oil industry. When its finally time for me to depart, the pilot realizes someone is missing from the passenger list, so one of the workers from the airstrip jumps in a truck, drives to her home and picks her up.
With our seasoned captain, crew, and expedition leader at the helm, we navigate local ice and weather conditions with expertise. A 35-minute flight west, Prudhoe Bay is the source of much of the North Slopes traffic, as well as its wealth. Venture ashore to hike the tundra, abloom with wildflowers. Riley says that in the weeks hes been working here, the number of polar bears has varied from day to day, but hes never failed to find at least a few. Before distributing the meat equally among the community, what remainsdragged to nearby sandbarsbelongs to the bears. Young beluga whale calves swim with their mother near the mouth of the Churchill River in Manitoba. New discoveries reveal an era when awe-inspiring monuments were all the rage. Polar bear mother (Ursus maritimus) huddles with her two cubs in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada. Heres what its like to dive French Polynesias shark alley, Theres a better way to hike the Inca Trail, 10 epic family adventures for last-minute planners. (This is the untold story of the boldest polar expedition of modern times. Get a taste of Arctic culture during a visit to a nearby wilderness camp, where we will enjoy local refreshments and meet some of the friendly sled dogs that reside here. Depart Oslo on a private charter flight and enjoy breathtaking vistas en route to Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in Svalbard. The opportunity is yours on this six-day adventure in the vast wilderness of the Canadian Arctic. After, visit the renowned Itsanitaq Inuit Museum which features one of the best collections of Inuit art and artifacts. These free meals have attracted Ursus maritimus in numbers for generations; so many, in fact, that on the flight here from Fairbanks, in central Alaska, I mistakenly thought I was seeing sheep ambling along the dark shores.
Gaze up at sheer cliffs and use your binoculars to take in the spectacular sight of tens of thousands of fulmars, kittiwakes, and murres. ), Weve had teachers arrive in August, go into a sort of culture shock and get on the next plane back south, Dorothy says, smiling. Explore the Gallery Svalbard, home to permanent collections as well as exhibitions of local artists, and stroll down streets lined with colorful houses. All rights reserved. How'd they do it? Hiking amid Andean peaks, ancient ruinsand no crowdson this 19,000-mile stone path from Colombia to Argentina. This trip is operated in collaboration with Lindblad Expeditions. Later in the evening, set out on a drive through the remote landscape to view the Northern lights (weather dependent). Learn more about National Geographic Explorer, Extremely rare spoonie bird added to ark of imperiled animals, Monarch butterflies are now an endangered species, Penguins are slow to evolve, making them vulnerable, For orphaned elephants, friends may be key to stress relief, These stunning insect close-ups reveal dazzling bug complexity, Dazzling photos show horseshoe crabs thriving in protected area, Extreme drought threatens Italys rice cropsand its beloved risotto, Increasingly heavy farm equipment is crushing fertile soils, The key to protecting Yosemites sequoias from wildfires? The polar night lasts for 66 days and were so far north that it can snow at any time of the year, including during the 66 summer days when the sun doesnt yield. When he first moved to the area, he counted 90 polar bears at the bone pile, but following a freak storm in 2005, numbers started declining dramatically. Please be respectful of copyright. As we travel north of the Arctic Circle, our team of experts will bring depth and insight to the experience. It was funwhen we first started, we used to walk around here with them, says the skipper while were at anchor just 50 feet or so from a pair of sleeping bears. In 2018, authorities also started insisting that Iupiat hunters sink any whale remains in the ocean, making it harder for the bears to reach them and discourage their presence. Take in the majestic arctic landscape while searching for polar bears, arctic fox, and ptarmigan. In the afternoon, embark on a tour by coach of Norways capital city. Explore this charming coastal city, then board our charter flight to Oslo and check in to our hotel. Upon arrival, enjoy a town and area historical tour including Cape Merry, the Port of Churchill, and Manitoba Conservations Polar Bear Holding Facility. Take, for example, the hunting and eating of whales. With our fully stabilized, ice-class ship, we probe deep into the ice in search of wildlife. I want to ask more about that, but its hard to frame delicate cultural questions when my overriding thought throughout this boat trip is: Ooh! Rileys boss, Bruce Inglangasak, relocated here 20 years ago from Northern Canada, although in Iupiat terms, crossing the modern border meant little. Summers are reserved for hunting walruses and seals. Search for wildlife including walruses, bearded and ringed seals, and the legendary creature of the norththe polar bear. The following morning, I head to the excellent Iupiat Heritage Center, a cultural museum and learning hub festooned with native artifacts and lore. See how stones, strength, and smarts built Stonehenge. Our plane touches down briefly in Prudhoe Bay, where its another another 25-minute flight north west to Utqiagvik. Join our spotters on the bridge, scanning the edges of the pack ice for huge walruses, arctic foxes, reindeer, polar bears, and other resident species. Aurora borealisfrom Churchill, Manitoba, Canadalooks north toward a curtain with pink upper coloration from low-energy electrons exciting oxygen in the high atmosphere.
Enjoy nightly recaps and talks about the natural wonders we encounter, and view underwater video footage taken some 1,000 feet below the surface by our remotely operated vehicle (ROV). With our fully stabilized ice-class expedition ship, we are able to probe the ice in search of wildlife; and our exact day-to-day itinerary remains flexible, depending on local ice and weather conditions. Disembark in Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in Svalbard. Traveling aboard the state-of-the-art National Geographic Resolution, voyage to the far-flung archipelago of Svalbard, where fantastic formations of snow and ice set the stage for a remarkable adventure. An adventure destination where tundra, boreal forest, and Hudson Bay waters meet, the area has long been a traditional hunting area for indigenous peoples (the cozy Itsanitaq Museum, formerly the Eskimo Museum, honors their heritage). This meant relocating to the frigid Alaskan coast known as the North Slope. With the guidance of a National Geographic photographer, capture spectacular images during long days beneath the midnight sun. Dorothy starts laughing before Ive finished asking her if this is true. Bruces hands are large and worn and he knows certain things like the backs of themthings like the safe distance to be from polar bears and when to start the engine should their attention linger on his boat. Ive never previously heard of people eating walrus: an animal with a hide so thick as to be almost polar bear-proof. Svalbard is one of the best places on the planet to observe these majestic creatures in their natural environment, and we're likely to spot several throughout the course of our trip. Each summer, thousands head into the mouth of the Churchill River in search of warmer waters to birth and raise calves and feast on capelin and other fish. In the early days of working with the bears, he was asked to help Sir David Attenboroughs legendary cold-climate cameraman, Doug Allan, film them for the BBC. However, leaving it later increases the chances of seeing the Northern Lights. This voyage is undertaken in the spirit of discovery, and our travel in the archipelago is exploratory by design. Later, settle into comfortable accommodations aboard theNational Geographic Resolution. But on Alaskas north coast, visitors can still spot these magnificent predators away from crowds. Depart on an overnight flight to Oslo and check in to our hotel upon arrival.
Or start further south and explore spectacular fjords by kayak and Zodiac on our Norways Fjords and Arctic Svalbard expedition. It also is renowned for its large populations of skrei, or cod, which migrate to these waters during winter and spring. Thats affected our hunting seasontheres less traffic on the tundra because its so wet.. You can find him on Twitter. On a voyage aboard the new National Geographic Endurance or National Geographic Resolution, discover the remote islands and fjords of northern Norway, including the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Fly back to Oslo and stay overnight at the hotel. Before leaving, Bruce explains that schedules arent the only thing subject to change round these parts. Its best to visit between May and September, which sees highs of 46F and lows of 16F.