Monthly Archives: June 2015

Experience the rare thrill of Antarctic scuba diving

Not many people are lucky enough to visit the awe-inspiring continent of Antarctica, and even fewer will ever be able to dive in its incredible waters. WILDFOOT’s Antarctic adventure cruises present you with the opportunity to become one of those precious few, diving at some of the most visually spectacular sites in the world alongside an experienced team of professionals.

Antarctica is one of the last remaining unspoilt wildernesses left in the world, and diving into its waters is like stepping into a completely unimagined environment. After you zip up your dry suit and strap on your gear, you will be slipping under the water to witness scenery that only a fraction of the global population has seen before you. Our experienced dive masters are ready to guide you through this jaw-dropping landscape.

The water itself is surprisingly clear and pure, providing the perfect visibility for observing the Antarctic shelf below sea level. Icebergs rear up above the surface, but it is only through submerging yourself that you can truly understand their colossal size, as the light that penetrates the water produces a mesmerising glow from these vast walls of ice.

Aside from the deep blue clarity of the water and the overwhelming grandeur of the icebergs, many divers are attracted by the abundance of sea life. You will be able to spot several varieties of Antarctic fish, as well as star fish, jelly fish and crabs, but one of the most exciting potential encounters is with the resident seals.

Fur and leopard seals are both native to the area, and are generally inquisitive creatures that will jump into the water if they see a boat approaching. They usually approach divers at speed, only to veer off just before they come into contact with them. They also enjoy mimicking behaviour, so you might just be able to interact with them by twisting and rolling. Penguins too jump off the ice and transform themselves from comical creatures waddling and hopping about to streamlined masters of the water, darting swiftly around.

Our scuba diving adventures are only available for a limited number of people from a limited number of departures, and can be included as part of either a bespoke or tailor made package. Diving these pristine waters is an experience that you will carry with you forever, so why not contact us today for more information about incorporating a diving experience into one of our Antarctic adventure cruises?

Chukotka: the part of Arctic Russia that meets the United States

Any preconceptions that you have about Russia in general, you should probably cast entirely aside before you consider one of our Arctic cruises to the Russian Far East. This part of Russia is very different to the more well-known European part, being wild and sparsely-populated. A visit to Chukotka, in Russia’s northeastern tip, can be particularly eye-opening for its close proximity to the United States.

A land full of mountains and mystery

Travel to Chukotka on one of the Arctic cruises to the Russian Far East available from WILDFOOT, and you will get opportunities to see beautiful tundra and interact with indigenous Chukchi people… but not too many of them. This is not least because, although the area covers nearly 285,000 square miles, it has only about 50,000 inhabitants. However, the great remoteness and low population density of Chukotka gives it an enchanting sense of mystery.

A fascinatingly unique culture

As the area is easy to overlook, there can be a lot for you to discover during a trip to Chukotka. On the way there, you can get a better insight into the local culture by reading the classic writings of Yuri Rytkheu, who hugely influenced Chukchi literature. Then, once you get there, you can see amazing wildlife from rare birds like the spoon-billed sandpiper to whales and walruses. Brown bears abound and on Wrangel Island polar bears too.

Is that America you can see?

One of the most extraordinary moments you could experience in Chukotka is, on a clear day, seeing across the Bering Sea that separates Russia from the US state of Alaska. The divide of the Bering Strait here has an intriguing history; during the Cold War, it marked the only border between the Soviet Union and the USA, leading it to be dubbed the ‘Ice Curtain’. In 1987, American swimmer Lynne Cox did her bit to ease tensions by swimming over the  chilly border.

There is a lot more that you can see…

Chukotka is also a great place to start exploring the Russian Far East more generally. The adjacent province of Kamchatka, like Chukotka, is quiet, unspoilt and beautiful… and you can see it all for yourself after booking one of our Arctic cruises to the Russian Far East. Enquire now about our Arctic cruises to the Russian Far East here at WILDFOOT, to begin what could be quite simply one of the most incredible adventures of your life.

What can you learn on one of our educational cruise expeditions?

Antarctica is a truly astonishing region – the southernmost, coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth, a polar desert that has claimed the lives of many of those to have underestimated it. But this part of the world isn’t merely about the most intensely adverse elements – it is also about remarkable wildlife, stunning scenery and one of the most memorable travel experiences of your life.

It is a region that teaches you much about yourself, as you learn a lot in turn about it – and there can be no better way of doing so than with one of our educational cruise expeditions.

Book an amazing group experience with us

Contact WILDFOOT today about group holidays on which your friends or fellow members of a club, society or other interest group can learn more about what Antarctica is really about. Not only can brilliantly competitive rates be negotiated for such holidays, but we might even be able to offer a free place to your group leader, or the value of a free place shared out among all of you.

If your group is a larger one, we are also delighted to provide an escort, who can cater for all of your transfers and other arrangements.

Perfectly tailored group expeditions

Whatever the nature of your group – a club or society with a more formal interest in a subject or field of study related to Antarctica, perhaps, or simply friends or sporting teammates who would all like to experience this incredible region ‘in the flesh’ – we are confident of providing the perfectly-tailored holiday.

As you might expect, we can certainly put together the complete educational cruise expeditions for schools, colleges, universities and alumni, encompassing zodiac (RIB or Rigid Inflatable Boat) excursions, bird and whale watching and informative lectures.

However, we are just as happy to build the ideal holiday expedition package for ornithologists and birdwatchers, photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, historians, skiers, kayakers and scuba divers. These breaks allow you to follow in the footsteps of the celebrated figures to have embarked on history’s greatest Antarctic expeditions – Scott, Mawson, Shackleton – in a way that suits everyone in your group.

Talk to WILDFOOT today about the most inspiring educational cruise expeditions that help to bring this mysterious, legendary and ever-fascinating corner of the globe to life.

5 sights to capture on your Galapagos photo adventure

So, what are the five things that you simply must snap on your next Galapagos photo adventure?

Birds

You simply can’t expect to find anywhere in the world that offers richer birdlife than the Galapagos, around 170 species having been spotted here. From the endless variety of finches that enchanted Charles Darwin, right through to red and blue footed boobies, pelicans, penguins and albatross, this corner of the globe is a paradise for bird photographers.

Mammals & Marine life

Amazing giant tortoises and the iconic land and marine iguanas, with no fear of humans, abound and if you have ever wondered what occupies the depths of the sea, the abundant marine wildlife of Galapagos will give you a fair few answers. Turtles, crabs, whales, dolphins, sharks, rays… they are all represented, some of them only being visible to divers and snorkelers, so you will need to be prepared to get your feet wet!

Weather

One of the things that so captivates many photographers about Galapagos is the astonishing clarity of the local air, but there’s so much more about the islands’ climate that adds atmosphere and interest to the pictures taken here – from the sometimes dense fog to the frequent drizzles and cold winds that characterise the cooler months.

Natural scenery

Any Galapagos photo adventure will inevitably take in the islands’ diverse land and seascapes – after all, as a backdrop to the region’s spectacular wildlife and towns, they are as unavoidable as they are breathtaking, especially the volcanic landscapes, more reminiscent of the surface of the moon! You won’t run out of them, either, across the 18 main islands, three smaller islands and 107 rocks and islets.

Major towns

Yes, even the Galapagos have them – although ‘major town’ is defined slightly differently in this legendarily remote part of the world, with even the most populous town – Puerto Ayora – having a mere 12,000 inhabitants. The darker side of history is represented here too with the remains of a notorious prison colony on Isabela. Urban landmarks combine with rural landscapes to make for some similarly stimulating and oft-overlooked photography opportunities.

Arctic wildlife viewing brings a host of pleasures

As much as we would like to talk about the highlights of Arctic wildlife viewing here at WILDFOOT, the truth is that it would be extremely difficult to pick any out, such is the astonishing breadth and depth of animal life in this most spectacular and remote part of the world.

What we can do, however, is give a bit of an insight into the kinds of species that you may encounter when you take advantage of any of our packages.

From herbivores like the lemming, caribou, muskox and Arctic hare, through to predators such as the mighty polar bear, Arctic fox, wolf and a wealth of other land and marine animals, there are so many species here to stimulate the first-time visitor as well as the most seasoned Arctic veterans.

All manner of Arctic birds

Where could we start with any discussion of the birds that make the Arctic their habitat? Any complete list would also be a seriously long one, although if there is a particular species that you would like to see, we can advise you on the best season and location.

Nonetheless, those embarking on a European or Canadian Arctic expedition may just see any bird from the ivory gull, little auk, Black Guillemot and Barn Swallow to the Long-tailed Duck, sea eagles and skuas.

Alongside the rich variety of birdlife that the main Arctic region can offer, those who venture into the Russian Far East coastal region are able to spot such rare species as the Stellar’s sea eagle, gyr falcon and spoon-billed sandpiper.

Get up close and personal with whales

An Arctic holiday package is never just one for bird-spotting, however, also being the perfect excuse for a bit of whale watching – a truly unique experience that can get you up close and personal with some of the most jaw-dropping marine species on earth.

Whether you are hoping to catch a sight of a humpback whale, a minke, a rare white beluga, an orca (killer whale) or even the largest mammal in the world, the majestic blue whale itself, you will have ample opportunity to do so on one of our Arctic wildlife viewing packages.

Don’t be reduced to experiencing Arctic wildlife through your computer screen – book one of our breaks that give you the perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see all of these animals in astonishing flesh and blood.

Embark on a tailor made adventure to the Falklands

The Falklands Islands are certainly well-known for the territorial disputes that have surrounded it down the ages, and indeed, there are few parts of the world that are so steeped in compelling history. However, it is only right that the Falklands are also celebrated for their astonishing geography and biodiversity, with our own tailored packages here at Wildfoot Travel bringing you closer to it all.
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Reasons to choose Wildfoot Travel as your wildlife travel specialists

There are memorable holidays and then there are truly remarkable journeys. The unforgettable tourist expeditions that Wildfoot Travel give you the option to embark upon certainly fall within the second category. We are renowned and experienced wildlife travel specialists, born out of a company called Arctic and Antarctica Bound, which has operated for more than 25 years. With Wildfoot Travel, however, the same team sought to look beyond even the undoubtedly spectacular polar regions.

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