The Arctic does not actually have its own land mass but consists of sea covered in ice, the Arctic Ocean. Parts of North America, Asia and Europe lie in the Arctic region, for example the northern regions of Russia, Alaska and Canada as well as Greenland, Lapland and several island groups such as Franz Josef Land. Svalbard belongs to the Arctic as well. The geographical North Pole is one of the most extraordinary travel destinations in the world. However, it lies in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. The polar ice is over 4,200 metres thick in this region. Holidaymakers who are interested in a trip to the Arctic have to brace themselves for extreme weather conditions. Since it is far too cold in winter and even the most powerful icebreaker cannot conquer the massive pack ice, the adventurous expeditions only take place in the much more pleasant summer months.
Besides the great sandy deserts, the Arctic is one of the most inhospitable regions on earth. Thick pack ice, heavy snowstorms and permanent frost offer difficult conditions for the flora and fauna to develop most times of the year. But the Arctic has another side. In summer, temperatures are considerably milder and there is midnight sun. This means that it does not get dark from June to July and that travellers can go on deck of expedition ships without warm winter coats. It is the time when the Arctic comes out of hibernation and is full of life. It is the only place on earth where polar bears, arctic foxes and reindeer live together in the wild. In addition, various whale species and seals live between the gigantic table icebergs and the blue glaciers.
The Arctic is one of the most sparsely populated regions in the world. Only four million people, including the Inuit, Nenets, Yakuts and Evenks, permanently live in this world of ice. Despite the small number of inhabitants, there are several exciting and historically valuable villages and towns who tell their own stories. The hamlet of Igloolik in the Canadian Arctic or the myth-enshrouded region of Thule at Greenland's west coast are worth seeing. Longyearbyen on Svalbard and the islands of Franz Josef Land are among the preferred destinations of cruise tourists. The locals display warm-heartedness and hospitality. They enjoy talking about their everyday life in the perpetual ice.
Despite the extreme temperatures, there are more and more travellers and adventurers who want to experience the icy region every year. However, it is not only the impressive landscape which makes the Arctic so appealing but also the extraordinary leisure activities. Exciting snowshoe hikes, rides in a zodiac or a kayak and unique photographs in the light of the midnight sun make this trip a special experience. Brave travellers can go on dives in the icy sea down to the gigantic blocks of ice. You also see the giant masses of ice, which look like they are from another planet, above the water. The absolute highlight is theexpedition to the geographical North Pole. It is assumed that it was first reached by R. E. Peary in 1909. This point has a special appeal to the present day. No matter in which direction you look, at 90° north, you always look in the direction of the south.
You can only travel the Arctic in summer from mid-June to September. It is the only time at which it is possible to cut one's way through the ice and at which the temperatures are more pleasant. A trip to the Arctic has to be planned and prepared well. A health check is advisable too.