Top Luxurious destinations in the Arctic for wildlife and birding opportunities

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The Arctic is one of the few places in this overcrowded world that is left with wide open spaces and the only traffic you may come across is a grazing herd of musk oxen on the ground and Arctic terns and seagulls darting in the sky from one place to another in search of fish.

This massive and magnificent ocean of ice is home to a diverse range of bird and animal life, not to forget the native people, who have made the many islands and the land surrounding them their home.

In a region where an extraordinary natural wonder awaits around every corner, here are some of the top destinations in the Arctic for wildlife viewing in the far North.

The best way to experience this magical place is on a cruise ship where you can enjoy your Arctic holidays from the comfort of the deck as you sail through the stunning ice formations in quest of some of the amazing creatures who call the Arctic their home.

Image by Hal Tearse from Pixabay

SPITSBERGEN-where the Polar Bear reigns supreme

Located between Norway and the North Pole, Spitsbergen is the largest uninhabited island in the Svalbard archipelago and is considered to be the capital of wildlife in the Arctic.

While wildlife sightings are unpredictable and totally on the whims and fancy of Mother Nature,in Spitsbergen you have the greatest opportunity to spot Polar Bears in their natural habitat.

This is because these coastal areas are full of the bear’s favorites prey-seals.Apart from viewing these adorable creatures,one may see walrus,caribou,Arctic fox and countless nesting birds between the towering cliffs of Alkefjellet.

A dog sledding safari through Spitsbergen in June and July,when the wildlife is most active,you might also spot whales on their migratory routes or even a mother bear teaching the cub the critical art of hunting for survival.

NORTHEAST GREENLAND-abode of the Muskoxen

Locals call muskoxen Umimmak,or the long bearded one, because they are one of the most mysterious animals in the Arctic reminiscent of the huge ancient creature which roamed here millions of years ago

These shaggy creatures with thick fur and guard hairs form a dense layer of armour which can make them withstand temperatures of -30 to -40 C for days on end.

You may also spot caribou, Arctic fox, Arctic Wolf and also polar bears during the summer months when they wander inland in search of food.

Bird species spotted here include Ptarmigan (a common bird but rarely seen because of its excellent camouflage),the white tailed eagle,puffins,auks,ravens and the Greenland falcon among others.

Highlights of a cruise to Northeast Greenland include the world's longest fjord Scoresbysund,whales and other marine animals and with a bit of luck,the Northern Lights.

UUMMANNAQ-excellent whale watching

For a totally unique once-in-a-lifetime experience this exciting itinerary is a part of a thrilling voyage to the spectacular Disko Bay in West Greenland.The trip offers an unforgettable experience with stay in one of the most remote lodges in the world, Glacier Lodge.

Located in front of calving glaciers and fascinating geological formations,one can enjoy shore excursions against a backdrop of deep fjords and towering icebergs.

At Uummannaq you will come across surreal natural wonders as you sail under the magical Midnight Sun,visit remote settlements and their hospitable residents.

There will be plenty of time for wildlife as the waters are rich in Humpback whales,mink and pilot whales.Relax in the ultimate wilderness within earshot of the impressive Eqi Glacier.

Photo by Jean-Christophe André

NORTHWEST PASSAGE-for iconic Arctic wildlife

The legendary Northwest Passage with its labyrinthine channels has enchanted adventure seekers and wildlife lovers for centuries with its captivating landscapes and the communities of West Greenland who call this remote wilderness their home.

As you sail along the archipelago of channels that make up the High Arctic region of Canada, apart from interacting with the indigenous tribes you may come across bearded seals,polar bear, beluga whales and hundreds of sea birds that migrate here during the summer season

Highlights of this trip include:

  • Hike to the largest uninhabited island in the world,Devon Island
  • Gaze in awe at the Ilulissat Icefjord,a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Keep a sharp lookout for spotting iconic wildlife like ringed seals,musk oxen,beluga whales and polar bears.

ALASKA-wildlife of the Stephen's Passage

Glaciers,whales and birds can be encountered on an adventure-filled trip through the backcountry of Alaska where you will come across some lesser known spots as you journey off the beaten path.

Wind your way through canals and explore the Tongass backcountry,either by kayak or on foot and visit the awe-inspiring Kiksetti Totem Park and the Chief Shakes Tribal House.

Keep your eyes peeled and cameras ready for scenic waterfalls,frolicking mountain goats on the cliffside and Harbour seals at the end of the impressive Endicott Arm.

Look for wildlife around Dawes Glacier and the Misty Fjords,Expect to see Polar Bears,sea lions,porpoise and humpback whales as you sail through the Stephen's Passage.at Frederick Sound.

SVALBARD-encounter magnificent birdlife

Uncover the secrets of this breathtaking Arctic paradise to the remotest shores of the Svalbard region on an adventure you are unlikely to forget.

This expedition aims to cruise through the entire Svalbard archipelago,which includes the rarely visited Kyitoya or White Island,located in one of the northernmost remote spots in the world.

As you sail within the narrow channels and spectacular fjords,expect to spot Polar bears,walrus, Arctic fox,seals and some of the best and rare birdlife in the Arctic with over 240 different species recorded here.

Some prominent species you can see here are Arctic Tern,PomarinevSkua,puffin, Guillemot, Little Auk,Snow Bunting, several kinds of gulls, heese and Northern Fulmar.

Photo by Maksim Romashkin

BERGEN-gateway to the Norwegian Fjords

Located on mirror clear waters,the fjords of Norway are not only legendary but are home to a diverse population of birds and animal life.Later cruise to the Shetland Islands and explore its dramatic beauty while interacting with the local Shetland people.

The sailing begins from Tromos and moves along the 2000 km coastline of Norway as far as Flam. Enroute see the mighty Sognefjord,the longest in the country before ending at Bergen,the gateway to the fjords.

The most common birds found here are auk,frigatebirds,pelicans,the popular Atlantic Puffin, white tailed sea eagle.and the white tailed sea eagle.

Animals seen are musk oxen,brown bear,wolverine and the European polecat apart from six species of reptiles,the leatherback sea turtle and many more.

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