Discover the eternal magic of the poles
Few travellers dare to venture beyond the polar circles. Yet nature offers unforgettable rewards to the valiant hearts that are prepared to brave the unknown. From pristine sea ice and fascinating wildlife to authentic encounters, the Arctic and Antarctica will leave you with unrivalled memories and the certainty that you’ve been on the journey of a lifetime.
Contemplate the splendour of life at the poles
The dazzling silhouette of a humpback whale in the heart of the Weddell Sea, the song of emperor penguins guiding you as they return to their in-land colonies on the shores of the Bellingshausen Sea, the agility of a polar bear or the prehistoric stature of muskox on the icy coastline of north-east Greenland, the immense hoards of walruses heaving along the coasts of the icy polar sea, or the horns of narwhals popping up between sheets of Arctic sea ice… Exploring the planet’s southernmost and northernmost latitudes provides some unique opportunities to glimpse species that are entirely dependent on sea ice, whose majestic existence has fuelled our imaginations since childhood. The most adventurous travellers can put on a (thick) diving suit to explore the enigmatic splendour of the polar depths, which are home to anemones, soft corals, giant isopods and more. A world that is still largely unexplored.
Explorer Alexandra David-Néel once remarked that “he who travels without meeting others does not travel at all. He simply moves from one place to another.” Enjoy a unique experience by meeting some of the world’s most isolated populations, such as the inhabitants of Igloolik, an Inuit village in the Canadian Arctic that was discovered in 1822, or those of Ittoqqortoormiit, the northernmost community of eastern Greenland, landlocked on a peninsula at the entrance of Scoresby Sound. Admire their colourful houses, fall in love with the deep authenticity of the Far North, and discover the Greenlandic tradition of Kaffemik: a cheerful meeting over coffee, cake and the occasional fish soup, where flavours mingle, conversation flows, and friendliness is catching!
Explore the majesty of the cryosphere
The Inuit have dozens of words for snow. Like them, you can learn to recognise the thousands of shades of white that contribute to the splendour of the poles while on a snowshoeing, kayaking or dog sledding trip. Here, you can also discover the infinite diversity of the polar landscapes: from the alpine peaks of the Arctic to the majestic volcanic silhouette of Mount Erebus in Antarctica, the world’s southernmost active volcano; from the glaciers of Scoresby Sound, the world’s largest network of fjords, to the sumptuous icebergs of Disko Bay in Greenland; and from the immense platforms that have broken away from the White Continent’s ice cap in the Weddell Sea or the monumental ice barrier in the Ross Sea, acting as a marine sanctuary at the gates of the South Pole, to the labyrinthine expanses of drifting sea ice with its ever-changing reflections… The cryosphere offers a surprising kaleidoscope that will unleash your inner explorer.
Enjoy the health benefits of polar water
All inhabitants of the deep north know that contact with cold water offers incomparable health benefits, particularly for the skin and the body’s circulation. Push your reluctance aside and take a polar plunge for a few seconds in water at 0.5°C… before hastening back to the warmth of your bathrobe. Your heart’s suddenly beating faster, isn’t it? If you’re not feeling quite that brave, taste a glass of iceberg water instead! Sip slowly, close your eyes and enjoy what is undoubtedly the most extraordinary drink in the world! A taste of purity, a sip of eternity… Cheers!
When emotion meets knowledge
Despite their remoteness, polar ecosystems are among the most endangered on the planet and are at the heart of issues related to the preservation of our natural heritage. Discover how research being carried out at polar stations in Antarctica and the Arctic is progressing, chat with experts, and participate in civic science experiments. Observed from an inflatable boat or hovercraft navigating in some of the most inaccessible places on earth, the sea ice will look more beautiful than ever. A romantic captive flight on a hot air balloon also provides the perfect opportunity to admire the ice from on high and gain a deeper understanding of how it has evolved.
The lull of dreamy lights
Not to be outdone, the polar skies invite you to look up and contemplate the pure blue of daylight or the scintillating blaze of twilight. The exceptional darkness coupled with the reverberation of the sea ice make these ice deserts a choice location for observing the most impressive phenomena of the skies, such as the total solar eclipse on 4 December 2021 – Antarctica is home to the only zone in the world where it will be 100% visible. You might even get the chance to admire the polar lights in all their colourful splendour, where purple shimmers and emerald halos are reflected on the white snow, time stretches out before you and shadows dance in an other-worldly experience like no other!
Photo credit: © iStock © Studio PONANT Olivier Blaud