IN SEARCH OF EXTREMES
This article will take you from the North Pole to the South Pole through ice-encased lands with a certain kind of magnetism.
These destinations are the kind that dreams are made of.
Far removed from the crowds and the frenetic pace of normal life, these forgotten lands attract travellers on a quest for ever rarer and more unexpected experiences. Found beyond the final borders of our planet’s hemispheres, the Poles are very such places that represent (although not for much longer) the ultimate refuge from modern civilisation. From the absolute purity of the Far North to the extreme lands of the Far South, the Charly team has crafted four trip ideas for the boldest of travellers.
An Arctic expedition in Spitsbergen
A land of exploration shrouded in mystery, Spitsbergen still vibrates with the exciting tales of the explorers who were lucky enough to venture here. This, the largest island in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard which is found beyond the North Cape, is home to a world in which your senses and mind will lose their bearings.
You will navigate beyond the 80th parallel north, feel the ice fields crack as the boat passes by, travel along deep fjords and become intoxicated by the characteristic light of the midnight sun.
Keep your eyes peeled for the walruses, seals, whales and Arctic foxes all around, that is until the polar bear arrives. When it does, you won't be able to look away from its imposing silhouette. An encounter with the Lord the Arctic never leaves you cold.
An Inuit voyage to Greenland
The mere mention of its name is enough to evoke the silence of the great Arctic spaces broken only by the deafening noise of the blocks of sea ice. To venture onto the largest island in the Arctic (and in the world!) is to reconnect with the spectacular, raw, wild and primitive environments of the unexplored polar lands. You will weave between huge icebergs in a kayak, get to know whales in Disko Bay, hike along Ilulissat Icefjord and confront the largest glaciers in the northern hemisphere.
When the summer sun goes into extra time and the ice monsters sparkle with a thousand blue, gold and iridescent reflections, watch out for the thrill you will feel. And if you decide you want to break the ice, the ancestral culture of the Inuit communities and their brightly coloured wooden villages will be on hand to provide a warm welcome.
Put in at southern Patagonia
At the antipode of Spitsbergen and Greenland, the sirens of mythical Ushuaia sing their irresistible song to travellers in search of nature and adventure. Nicolas Hulot certainly wasn't mistaken on this front.
At the very edge of South America, the most southerly city in the world offers the perfect window onto the Tierra del Fuego and its glacial landscapes that see the Andes slope down into the sea. It is impossible not to be moved by the purity of its snow-capped peaks, the immense scale of its glaciers and by the raw power of nature that can be seen there, both wild and insidious.
Through the labyrinthine Magellan Strait that so terrorised the European navigators of long ago, you will reach Cape Horn, the Beagle Channel and Magdalena Island watched by penguins, cormorants, gulls and elephant seals. At this place that they call the “fin del mundo” (the end of the world) you truly are at the “Sur del Sur” (the south of the south), but you're not quite at the very edge of the world just yet.
An exploratory cruise beyond the Antarctic polar circle
Once you leave Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego retreats into the distance giving way to world that can't be found anywhere else on the planet. This is the most isolated, coldest and driest continent in the world.
Twenty-six times larger than France and covered in a glacial icecap that takes up almost 98% of the surface, this is a land of superlatives fashioned by the sea and the wind. However, its magic is not just due to its landscapes, which seemed to have escaped from the glossy pages of a geographical magazine. There is something else, a feeling of heady completeness, a certain "je ne sais quoi" that emanates in silence from this snow-white paradise and connects irrevocably with the very depths of your being.
Guided by the locals (eared seals, emperor penguins, orcas, humpback whales and albatrosses) you will follow in the footsteps of polar scientist Jean-Baptiste Charcot through calving glaciers, icebergs and jagged summits plunging sharply into the ocean. Your expedition into the polar zone will take you from flying over the Drake Passage to exploring Marguerite Bay in a Zodiac.
Then your course will finally take you over the mythical line of the Antarctic polar circle: 66°33 parallel south. Only a handful of scientists and lucky travellers venture this far.
- FROM ONE EXTREME TO THE OTHER -
A tailored journey from one Pole to the other
The attraction of the Poles is sometimes so strong that travellers do not know which to choose. To solve this dilemma, the Looking For Charly team has created a tailored 50-day trip dedicated to an adventurous and exacting Explorer.
From Spitsbergen to the polar circle, taking in Greenland, Iceland, Patagonia and the Antarctic, this article was inspired by this polar tour of two halves (summer/winter)..
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