A decade after wowing TV audiences with scenes of snowy landscapes and hardy creatures surviving in sub-zero temperatures, Sir David Attenborough and the BBC’s Natural History Unit are back with the six-part series Frozen Planet II.
Although it has taken four and a half years to capture images in some of the most remote places on earth, it is possible for travelers inspired by the images to have a polar adventure of their own.
As the expedition industry grows and the appetite for bucket-list adventures continues, destinations like Svalbard and South Georgia are becoming increasingly accessible.
Yes, the cost is high, but these are once-in-a-lifetime journeys to some of the most delicate places on our planet.
And as climate change continues to threaten and alter the environment, these are experiences you won’t want to put on hold.
Whales, fjords and mighty mountains
Where: Greenland and Iceland
Greenland is mostly covered by ice and almost impossible to cross over land.
A cruise along the coast is the best way to explore the area, meet local Inuit communities, look out for whales and meander through a sculpture gallery made of icebergs.
While most trips are westbound, this expedition explores the east coast, stopping at Thule settlements and exploring Scoresbysund’s beautiful fjord system.
As an added bonus, the journey begins in Iceland in the equally unusual Westfjords, home to Europe’s largest bird cliff at Látrabjarg.
How: Intrepid (intrepidtravel.com) offers a 14 day Northern Lights trip to Greenland and Iceland, priced from £7,225 per person (three people). Departing September 8, 2023. International flights excluded.
Dog sled ride into the wilderness
Once considered a remote wilderness, the arctic archipelago of Svalbard has become much more accessible in recent years.
But there are still plenty of icy nooks and crannies that offer adventure.
This three-day dog sledding journey begins in Advent Valley outside of Longyearbyen and explores valleys, mountains and glaciers in a country with no roads.
Accommodation is in simple trapper-style huts, where everyone is busy chopping wood for the stove, melting snow for drinking water, and tending the dogs.
How: Regent Holidays (regent-holidays.co.uk) is offering a five night trip from £2,495 per person (two people sharing) including flights, transfers and all meals.
Various departures in January and February 2023.
Traditionally, most trips to Antarctica follow the west coast of the peninsula.
But with rising temperatures and ice drift, the Weddell Sea is becoming much more accessible.
Earlier this year, conditions allowed scientists to spot explorer Shackleton’s lost ship, the Endurance, and several tourist ships made it as far as Snow Hill.
Quark Expeditions’ Ultramarine ship plans to visit the remote island, a gateway to one of the few accessible colonies of emperor penguins.
When conditions permit, a helicopter takes guests inland to hike across the sea ice and observe the world’s largest penguin and its chicks.
How: Discover the World (discover-the-world.com) is offering a 14-night trip from £29,654 per person (two people), excluding international flights.
Departures on November 12th and 24th, 2023.
An icy wildlife spectacle
Everyone is obsessed with Antarctica – with good reason – but true animal lovers gravitate to the sub-Antarctic islands.
There are plenty of penguin species to start with: find resplendent kings, entertaining rock hoppers, and slightly ridiculous-looking macaroni.
The bird life is also excellent. Stroll through colonies of albatross and marvel at how their enormous wingspans cast jumbo jet shadows, or listen to the birdsong of the South Georgia pipit – a rescued species.
Wildlife Worldwide hosts a trip early in the season where it is possible to see belligerent elephant seals engaged in bloody scuffles.
From 2025 there will be enough time to save up for a one-time trip.
How: The Traveling Naturalist (naturalist.co.uk) is offering a 15 day Festival of Wildlife Falklands and South Georgia trip from £9,995 per person (two people) on the Magellan Explorer, excluding international flights.
Departing October 11, 2025.
Do the polar jump with the small ship
Where: Northern Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway
Expeditionary sailing is best done on smaller vessels that allow for intimate encounters and the opportunity to navigate waters where large ships cannot.
Sailing on a 33-person schooner, this newly launched voyage aims to combine exploration on land and water.
As well as spotting walruses and polar bears from a safe distance, guests can snowshoe ashore and admire the ‘spiky’ landscape that originally gave Svalbard its name.
Sailing in the summer, when the sun never sets, gives you plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and look for whales, whose numbers are steadily increasing.
How: KE Adventure (keadventure.com) is offering a 10 day trip from £4,870 per person (two people) including flights, accommodation and all meals.
Departs on June 7th and 17th, 2023.