In a world where photographs and videos of the Earth’s most unique places are more easily accessible than ever before, feeling truly humbled by an image can be a rare experience.
The Arctic doesn’t have this problem. A fragile, beautiful environment, it has the power to drop jaws to the floor with a single panorama. So imagine visiting there: truly a life event to rival all others.
Here are five incredible things to experience in the Arctic:
Take in the Northern Lights
It is possible to enjoy the aurora borealis outside of the Arctic Circle (even parts of Scotland can be privy to the beauty of the Northern Lights) but suspended above the Arctic snows, this natural phenomenon is even more awe-inspiring.
ake a look at the Aurora Zone website, which provides information about the best time to enjoy the aurora borealis and how to get the most out of the experience.
Enjoy the Sundog Phenomenon
The lesser-known little sister to the Northern Lights is the sundog phenomenon. When the sun is hanging low over the horizon, it is sometimes flanked by two bright spots creating the optical illusion that there are three suns in the sky – a somewhat spooky experience that brings to mind Tatooine.
The phenomenon is created when the light of the sun interacts with ice crystals in the atmosphere. So inspiring are the sundogs, one sighting is said to have encouraged philosopher Rene Descartes to interrupt his metaphysical studies and proceed with his natural philosophy work, The World.
Experience 24-hour Days
While the winter months in the Arctic do not see any light, summer brings a period of a couple of weeks where the sun never truly disappears from the sky.
Known as midnight sun, the 24-hour days occur traditionally between June 12 and July 1 in the Arctic Circle, but the closer you travel towards the North Pole, the longer this extends.
Go Whale Watching
The waters of the Arctic are home to some of the most impressive animals in the world, including orca, beluga whales and humpback whales. Whale-watching cruises allow visitors to get closer to these magnificent beasts, and are a chance to see them in their natural habitat. The Arctic waters are also home to the unusual narwhal – sometimes called the Unicorn of the Sea.
Cruise1st offer a selection of trips to the Arctic Circle, taking in beautiful snowscapes and the towns of northern Scandinavia, as well as potential sightings of creatures of the deep. Check out the website here.
Run the North Pole Marathon
Tough Mudder might have cornered the market for extreme endurance races in the UK, but runners looking for something a little more challenging and extreme should venture to the Arctic for the North Pole Marathon. Traditionally held in April, the marathon tests the strength, stamina and nerve of runners to their very limits as they make their way through sub-zero temperatures over Arctic ice floes.
*Image of arctic cotton flowers via Shutterstock