We’ve been all around the Polar Regions and have considerable knowledge and stories about these incredible areas. Naturally, we know a lot of facts, but we have opinions and viewpoints, too. Our choices on the top polar destinations for scenery and wildlife, as well as which polar region is our overall favorite, vary considerably. But, for now, you can’t go wrong with these places described below!
What do you think is the most scenic polar destination?
All the places we visit on our polar expedition cruises offer world-class scenery. Antarctica offers breathtaking views of frozen mountains and colossal icebergs around literally every turn. The Arctic offers a wide range of wild landscapes, all of which are gorgeous in their own way. For scenery, the personal favorite of many of us is East Greenland. It’s easy to be drawn to both the mountains and the sea, so we find fjords to be a perfect environment. Of all the fjords in the world, we consider the fjords of East Greenland to be among the most impressive. The inner reaches of Scoresby Sund, Kong Oscar Fjord and Franz Joseph Fjord contain some of the most dramatic scenery in the world. We can hardly remove ourselves from the bow of the ship, day or night, while navigating through these narrow, sparkling blue waterways, past polychromatic granite mountains and tundra valleys, following a path of luminous icebergs to the tidewater glaciers that created it all. We’re captured and bound by the spell of Greenland every time.
Which polar destination has the best wildlife?
Any trip to the Polar Regions is a veritable wildlife extravaganza. Few experiences can compare to encountering a polar bear in the Arctic or standing amidst a bustling penguin colony in Antarctica. But for a number of us, the best of the best wildlife destinations is the subantarctic island of South Georgia. We could spend hours, days and weeks voyeuristically observing the family lives of elephant seals, fur seals and king penguins on one of South Georgia’s many spectacular wildlife beaches. We could marvel endlessly at the grace and beauty of albatross soaring and wheeling overhead. To set foot upon South Georgia is to leave the human world behind and to fall deeply into a primeval animal world that hardly exists elsewhere in our modern age.
Overall, which region do you like better, the Arctic or the Antarctic?
We get this question a lot. But it’s a hard one to answer. Both regions are amazing in different ways. Antarctica bowls you over with the grandeur of its landscapes and the abundance of its wildlife. The Arctic is just as impressive but in a more nuanced way. In the Arctic, birds and mammals live alongside diverse plant and insect communities, forming a rich and complex ecosystem in which dramatic events are unfolding at every level of the trophic pyramid. For these reasons, many of us consider the Arctic to be our favorite region. Every trip to the Arctic brings new surprises, even for those of us who have been guiding there for decades.
Though we must say, everyone will have his or her own preference … and we do! We would encourage anyone to see both the Arctic and Antarctica for themselves. The question “which is better?” seems to imply that the two regions are similar enough that a person can see just one of them and get the whole polar experience. In fact, the whole polar experience cannot be had without visiting both regions. It is true: if you like one, you will like the other. But the other will not just be more of the same. They are not the same, nor are they opposites. They are complements to one another.