Jo highly recommends this fascinating wilderness area. It can be divided into visits to the following:
- Alaska; The Inside Passage, The Aleutian and Pribilof Islands; The Bering Sea
- Canada for polar bear and brown bear watching north of Winnipeg as far as Wager Bay in mid-summer
- Iceland – land and sea tours
- Greenland – for good value we recommend that you visit by ship as you may be ‘befogged’ on land and may have to wait several days at your own expense to fly to your next destination.
- Kamchatka Peninsula, Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Arctic – a once forbidden area – offers scenery and plentiful wildlife. Voyages around Japan, the Kurils and South Korea are also offered. Dog sledding trips are available.
- North West Passage voyage by ships with ice-strengthened hulls are not offered every year. An icebreaker is no longer required to navigate this route, or the North East Passage, not offered for some years now.
- Spitsbergen and North Cape – voyages and land excursions.
- The North Pole fly-in (March) or by sea (July)
- Dog sledding tours and a stay in Ice Hotel in Sweden far above the Arctic Circle are possible. Jo stayed at the Ice Hotel and tried out dog sledding in 2005. Enjoy a cocktail at the Ice Bar where even the glasses are made out of ice – no shoplifting as a souvenir!
- Norway – Jo sailed from Bergen to Kirkenes and back on one of the Hurtigruten ferry ships in March 2010. These ships were upgraded in the last few years to the height of luxury with well appointed cabins, and superb dining, bar and seating areas. At the longer stops they offer excursions which are very well organised. Jo went dog sledding, saw the most northern Snow Hotel (the Ice Hotel name is patented by the Swedish one which Jo has visited and is more elegant); did several coach tours to see the Saltstraumen maelstrom (from where the word originated), a very strong but productive tidal current; around some of the Lofoten islands, still north of the Arctic circle; and a very good guided tour around Trondheim. A guided walk around Tromsø included a visit to the brewery and the Arctic Museum featuring many artefacts of the explorers Amundsen and Nansen. At other stops she enjoyed a visit to an ice sculpture gallery as well as the world’s most northern Fort.
Many other brief stops are made as the ship stops at some 60 places day & night during the 12 day round voyage. With the many ships they act as a lifeline to some very remote settlements and towns. Time permitting passengers can explore some of these. More excursions are offered in the summer months. She spotted the Northern Lights or Aurora a few times and had the opportunity one night to photograph them.