WILDFOOT is a world-class provider of Arctic cruises. We have a comprehensive range of itineraries to fantastic Arctic holiday destinations and we’re proud of our reputation for providing unique and adventurous wildlife experiences. As a company with more than twenty-five years of experience, our dedicated team of specialists supply the knowledge and passion that will help you create a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime trip to your choice of iconic Arctic holiday destinations to explore in the most exciting and fulfilling way possible.
It’s important to remember that this spectacular part of the world is like nowhere else on the planet you’ll ever have seen before. The wildlife, landscape and people are both unique and fascinating, and for those who take the time to learn a little more about the region before heading off on an adventure, it will be all the more rewarding.
Taking time to prepare for your trip is crucial if your experience is to be a success, and there’s probably more to think about than most other places – but the payoff is well worth it! Our team of experts at Wildfoot have come together and collated some of the most valuable advice we can offer if you’re thinking of heading to this extraordinary part of the world with us.
The Best Time to Travel
Of course, everyone is different – not just in terms of their physical abilities but also when it comes to their favourite season for travelling. But, broadly speaking, unless you are looking for a particularly tough challenge, it’s probably best to head to Arctic holiday destinations between the months of June and September.
The temperatures at this time are milder (between about 3–7 degrees Celsius) and the wildlife tends to be more active. (If you travel outside this part of the year, the weather can be extreme and visibility tends to be limited.) During the “high summer” period, the days are long and the weather is comfortable enough for your experience to be memorable for the right reasons.
During the summer months, temperatures are usually above freezing – indeed, even double-figure temperatures are not out of the question. However, there is a wind chill factor that you’ll need to cater for especially if you join the zodiac landing excursions. Most of the vessels provide each passenger with their own polar parka jacket along with rubber boots for the beach landings. You’ll be wading through a few inches of water and there’s often some sea spray or snow flurries that make it a good idea to pack waterproof trousers.
Another important aspect is that the ships are able to travel further north during these months, enabling you to visit other Arctic holiday destinations – like the incredible Spitsbergen region, or perhaps even up to the North Pole.
Spotlight on the Spitsbergen Region
As the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago in Norway (and laying claim to the world’s northernmost permanent human population), Spitsbergen is home to an intriguing craggy landscape of mountains, fjords, glaciers and frozen tundra. With over half of its land under ice all year round, it may at first glance look inhospitable, but the 37,673 square kilometres is home to around 2,500 people (mostly in the administrative settlement Longyearbyen, and various other settlements around the coastline), and an array of wildlife. During winter the Northern Lights are frequently visible, while in contrast, in the summer there are 24 hours of sunlight – aka the “midnight sun”.
The Wildlife of Spitsbergen
Along with the iconic polar bears, which are seen all over Spitsbergen (including sometimes close to human settlements), you’ll also have the chance to see the three other terrestrial species of the island (Arctic foxes, the endemic Svalbard reindeer and southern vole), a host of marine mammals (including dolphins, walruses, seals and whales), and a plethora of bird life.
The other animals you may encounter are dogs (usually huskies), which are used for one of the most fun and exciting activities on offer – dog-sledding. (Wildfoot even offers a dedicated dog-sledding expedition!)
With six National Parks, much of the island is classified protected – which means wonderful opportunities to view wildlife in its natural habitat. The dramatic terrain is nothing short of breathtaking, with rugged, towering snow-capped peaks, unique flora, other-worldly glaciers, huge ice-fields, and dramatic fjords dotted with massive icebergs. Spitsbergen is often referred to as one of the last great wilderness areas on the planet – and only when you experience it for yourself, will you truly understand why.
How Do We Get You to the North Pole?
The North Pole is one of the ultimate Arctic holiday destinations, and to set foot on its frozen expanse is a bucket-list item for many intrepid adventurers. Only the privileged few ever get to see and experience this awe-inspiring place, and here at Wildfoot, we’re proud to be able to help you discover just how incredible it really is. There’s not a lot that can compare to the feeling of standing at the actual North Pole, in front of the legendary “90-degree” sign, surrounded by nothing but a frozen white landscape. It’s truly unforgettable.
Your expedition to the northernmost point of the planet with Wildfoot will take place on special ice-breaker ships – including the magnificent Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s only luxury ice-breaker – that cut effortlessly through the ice floes on the way to the geographical point of the North Pole. Along the way, from the vessel you’ll be able to take in the abundance of terrestrial and marine wildlife and the vast, spectacular landscapes of the Arctic region.
Le Commandant Charcot heralds a new class of polar vessels and is the world’s first hybrid-electric exploration ship powered by liquified natural gas. Aside from its mighty capabilities to safely traverse the ice floes in complete safety and with the least disruption to the environment, the luxury aboard this vessel is unprecedented. Complementing the 135 stunningly appointed suites and staterooms (with private balconies or terraces), other features include a swimming pool, spa, restaurant, bar, observation lounge and even a butler service and private Jacuzzi in premium rooms.
Mike, one of our team members has put together this great webinar on this vessel so if you want to know more feel free to check it out.
The length of the journey itself will depend on conditions and can take up to a week – but one thing’s for certain, you won’t be bored!
The North Pole consists of a collection of massive ice floes floating in the Arctic Ocean (up to three metres thick) – there’s no actual land mass. And beneath that ice is an ocean more than 4,000 metres deep…
Unfortunately, due to the climate crisis, scientists predict that as soon as about 30 years there’ll be no sea ice in the Arctic during the summer months – as it is warming at two times the rate as the rest of the planet. This means rising sea levels and the potential for huge global climate ramifications.
In winter the North Pole is enveloped in 24 hours of darkness, while in summer it’s the opposite, with 24 hours of perpetual sunlight. In contrast to the rest of the Arctic region, there is no terrestrial fauna or flora here, although there’s an abundance of migratory birds to be spotted overhead and plenty of marine life that exists below the ice – but that’s not so easily seen!
Some of our Wildfoot expeditions include a helicopter sightseeing ride, a memorable experience that offers a true birds-eye view on this incredible location, and you’ll also have the opportunity to see the Franz Josef Land archipelago.
You should consider investing in a good camera in order to get high-quality shots while exploring the Arctic. Carrying a spare battery with you is a very good idea and will help you to avoid being caught short when you’re most in the mood to start snapping away.
If you’re an avid photographer (or a novice looking to learn) you might like to go one step further and take up the opportunity to enlist in a dedicated photography workshop while on your trip with Wildfoot. Many of our expeditions offer this as an optional activity (usually at no extra cost) and anyone who’s keen to expand their skills is very much encouraged to join in.
These workshops are an extremely worthwhile experience, as they are led by experienced professional photographers, who are also experts in wildlife and polar photography – an important factor, as the environment and conditions present some very unique challenges.
Many of our expeditions offer these workshops, so if you’re interested make sure you speak with your Wildfoot consultant about it.
Checklist of Essentials
There are some things that we believe are essential to ensuring you’re safe, comfortable and warm during your trip to any of our Arctic holiday destinations. Bear in mind these are all just recommendations, but because we know the region like the back of our hands, we do know what we’re talking about.
In terms of baggage you should try to stick to one suitcase, hold-all or backpack plus a small daypack for excursions and activities.
Clothing, Footwear, Toiletries
Layers are the best option so we recommend bringing a range of clothing that can be utilised on its own or as a layer.
Along with pyjamas, undergarments and optional swimsuits, bring both long and short sleeved shirts, long pants and shorts (zip-off pants are highly practical), a rain jacket, sun hat, jacket, windbreaker and sweaters. Depending on the class of cruise you book you might also want to pack some smart casual attire for dinners. Multiple pairs of comfortable, breathable socks are essential, along with a couple of pairs of footwear, which should include closed-toe waterproof walking shoes and sports shoes, sandals or flip/flops (depending on the time of year).
In terms of toiletries make sure that along with your regular requirements (and any prescription medicines) you add some sunscreen, anti-histamines, plasters, lip balm, hand sanitizer, and moist towelettes.
You will definitely need some good quality sunglasses due to the sheer brightness of this environment, with high-factor sun cream an absolute must on account of the UV light and clear air. Binoculars (for better wildlife spotting) and pen knives can prove to be worth their weight in gold, too. You should also consider bringing a small umbrella, notebook and pens, playing cards or games, purification tablets, water filter and small gifts for guides or local children.
Leave at Home
We highly recommend you leave any valuables and jewellery at home. You won’t have any need for them!
Of course, you’re welcome to get in touch with our expert team at any point if you have any queries about what to take and how to stay comfortable during your adventure. We are more than happy to use our knowledge and experience to benefit you, and are passionate about helping you make your trip a success.
If you want more advice on preparing your luggage have a look at our video:
Ready to Go? Let’s Go!
Talk to us today if you’re keen to secure a booking and prepare yourself for a trip quite unlike any that you will have embarked on before – or will ever embark on again. We can’t wait to take you on your adventure of a lifetime to our range of Arctic holiday destinations where you will discover the unique wildlife and truly extraordinary landscapes for yourself.
Pick up the phone or send us an email whenever you’re ready and we’ll be waiting to help you plan every last detail of your trip.
Some of Our Favourite Trips
There’s so much to see, do and explore in the Arctic and below are some of our favourite itineraries – all designed by people who’ve been there themselves! That’s the Wildfoot difference.
Alaska’s Northern Passages and Glacier Bay
This fantastic cruise takes you on an 8-day trip that’s packed to the brim with adventure and has a focus on magnificent glaciers. Aboard the Safari Explorer or Safari Endeavour, the journey delivers a huge array of highlights including a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Glacier Bay National Park, the Grand Pacific and Margerie glaciers, hiking through Tongass National Forest, and sailing around Chichagof Island, Sergius Narrows and Baranof Island.
With a range of excursions and activities available, you’ll be kept busy with kayaking, hiking, paddleboarding and skiffing, and you’ll see wildlife including whales, bears, otters, seals, porpoises and so much more!
Be dazzled and awed by the vast, icy beauty of Greenland (the world’s largest island) on this fabulous 17-day odyssey. Before boarding the vessel Sylvia Earle in Iceland for your adventure, you’ll explore the highlights of Reykjavik then head off for the adventure of a lifetime, discovering the wildlife and majestic scenery of Greenland’s east, south and west coasts.
As well as taking in the scenery of the fjords and mountains, including the stunning beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ilulissat Icefjord, you’ll visit Viking ruins and local communities, encounter wildlife like reindeer, Musk Ox and Arctic fox, and cruise icy waterways in a Zodiac.
Wilderness snowmobiling, spectacular scenery, remote lodge accommodation and as much fun as you can handle! This 5-day safari takes you into the frozen wilderness and allows you to enjoy the unique experience of exploring the landscape up close and personal in a way most people never target to see it.
Staying in the wonderful Spitsbergen Expedition Lodge, as your base, the location puts you between the valleys of Adventdalen and Eskerdalen, delivering views towards Skolten, the highest mountain on Nordenskiöld Land, and Drønnbre-massif. You may also explore the mountain massif between the Adventfjorden and Sassenfjorden fjords, or other routes north to Pyramiden, Fredheim, around the east coast of Spitsbergen or to the glaciers of Tuna and Von Postbreen. What an adventure!
Discover the fire and ice of inimitable Iceland in winter on this 8-day small group tour that takes in the majesty and intrigue of the country with an experienced local guide. Travelling in a comfortable, specially-modified 4WD off-road vehicle you’ll explore the extraordinary landscape and geological wonders at a relaxed pace, and stay in quality tourist class hotels.
On this fabulous itinerary you’ll discover the diversity of Iceland through its waterfalls, beaches, hot springs, glaciers and national parks. You’ll visit Vatnajökull National Park to see the Glacier Lagoon, travel deep into incredible blue ice caves to marvel at their icy beauty, and enjoy multiple opportunities to go on the hunt for the famous Northern Lights.