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The Spirit of Discovery – Arctic Kingdom Style

April 23rd, 2015 | By | Filed in Trips

bowhead, arctic kingdom, swim with bowhead

View from the boat when the bowhead whale surfaced

When you hear the word expedition does it ignite in you an expectation of discovery? We think so. Whenever we travel we seek the undiscovered or the little known. There are still new discoveries to be made.

One of our most exciting moments of discovery occurred during a Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island Safari, a few years ago. Our travellers sighted more than 20 bowheads in a shallow bay. That is a lot of whale blubber, as a single bowhead can weigh up to 80,000 kilos (176,370 pounds) and grow as long as 18 meters (59 feet). After consulting one of Canada’s foremost bowhead researchers we learned that we had identified a bowhead whale molting sight. In the shallow water, the whales wallow rubbing their bodies to slough off dead skin.

Bowheads are denizens of the Arctic Ocean. You won’t see them in marine parks or zoos. You won’t encounter them on a whale-watching trip in the Baja or Canada’s East Coast. Even in the Arctic, a bowhead sighting is rare. We increase the odds of a sighting by knowing the places they frequent.

Knowing where Arctic wildlife is likely to be found and why…is the secret to our success as an Arctic trip provider. We use natural biology and the knowledge of local guides to plan our adventures and deliver extraordinary wildlife viewing opportunities.

Earth Day – An Arctic Perspective – #EarthDay

April 22nd, 2015 | By | Filed in Current Events, Global Warming

A pair of narwhal

A pair of narwhal

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday April 22, 2015 marks the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day. It serves as the perfect reminder to educate yourself and do your part to help make a difference in the world we live in.

The Arctic is home to incredible wildlife and Arctic Kingdom is passionate about giving you the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, which is the reason we appreciate Earth Day and value everything it stands for. Earth Day’s year- round mission is to broaden, diversify and activate the environmental movement worldwide. A major focus of many campaigns is saving the Arctic and preserving the region’s rich biodiversity.

Earth Day – Consequences of Apathy

As climate change becomes progressively more threatening to Arctic wildlife, drastic changes need to be made to help save the environment. As the Earth warms up and the ice begins to melt, sea levels rise which has an impact on our coasts. Many Arctic species rely on sea ice to survive and the shift in temperature is making ice vanish at an alarming rate.

Within several decades, the Arctic Ocean ice cover is predicted to completely disappear during summer months, leaving many species without that necessity for survival. Polar bears, for example, rely on summer ice to hunt seals. Losing one of the Earth’s primary ecosystems leaves animals that rely on it with an uncertain future, which is the reason scientists predict that two-thirds of the polar bear population could be extinct by 2050.

Earth Day is a reminder that we all need to be conscious of our lifestyle and how it has a ripple effect on the rest of the world. Climate change not only affects countless creatures, it affects us all. The celebration of Earth Day is necessary to remind people of the importance of saving our planet and raise awareness of its need for protection. Let Earth Day be a lesson: You can make a difference that has the potential to result in global change.

For more information about Earth Day and how you can get involved and show your support, visit www.earthday.org.

Author: Mandy Ams

National Volunteer Week – April 12 to 18, 2105

April 11th, 2015 | By | Filed in Wildlife

Polar bear and cub

“A volunteer action is like a stone thrown in a lake: its effect has a direct impact. At the same time, like ripples, volunteer efforts reach out far and wide to improve communities. Undeniably, volunteers rock.” (volunteer.ca)

National Volunteer Week starts tomorrow

National Volunteer Week falls April 12- 18, 2015. It is a great opportunity to get involved in your community and help make a positive change. Since 1977, Volunteer Canada has been the national voice for volunteerism. The aim of the organization is to further volunteering and to encourage Canadians to get involved in their communities.

What have you done lately?

Let us pose a question to you: Have you done anything lately to support a cause you’re passionate about?

It doesn’t have to be as substantial as donating your entire paycheque to a non- profit fighting to save the Arctic (though donations are always welcome!), donating your time to a worthy cause is just as meaningful too.

Aiming the spotlight on the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), their mission is to stop the degradation of our planet’s natural environment and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. As a volunteer, your time, talents and skills help maintain their mission.

Though most people are familiar with the larger global organizations, there are many smaller ones that are closer to home and need your help just as much, if not more. Cochrane, Ontario is home to the Polar Bear Habitat. They are dedicated to setting the highest standards for the conservation, care and well- being of polar bears. Currently looking to expand, the Polar Bear Habitat relies on volunteers to wear various hats to ensure they provide the best environment for the bears.

Dedicating yourself to an incredible cause is such a gratifying experience. Volunteers are leading social change around the world and are such a valuable part of organizations. There is no time like the present to get involved and give yourself a rewarding experience while doing your part to help a cause that is close to your heart.

The best part is it’s easier to get involved than you think! Take action and click the links below for all the different ways you can help WWF and the Polar Bear Habitat reach their goals of protecting the world and all the creatures that call it home.

http://www.wwf.ca/takeaction/volunteer/

http://www.polarbearhabitat.ca/volunteer

To learn more about the significance of volunteering and how you can do your part in your community, visit www.volunteer.ca.

Author: Mandy Ams

Spring is in two days in the Northern Hemisphere

March 18th, 2015 | By | Filed in Current Events

Ringed Seal PupThose of us North of the Equator often forget that when Spring begins here, Fall or Autumn begins south of the equator. Our days are getting longer; those in the South are growing shorter. In the North elementary school children learn that the first day of Spring is the 21st of March. It is -but not always – 2015 is an exception. Spring arrives March 20 at :

  • 6:45 PM EDT
  • 5:45 PM CDT
  • 4:45 PM MDT
  • 3:45 PM PDT

Total Eclipse of the Sun – sung to the tune Total Eclipse of the Heart

In 2015 from the Faroe Islands to the North Pole, a rate total eclipse of the Sun will occur at the Vernal Equinox.  The next time that will happen is in 2034. (I apologize for the ear worm, by the way.) The Vernal Equinox is the technical term for the position of the Sun relative to Earth on the first day of Spring.

The New Moon Coincides with Spring this Year

Coinciding with the arrival of Spring 2015 is a New Moon. A new moon cannot be seen from Earth, because the moon’s night side is facing the planet. New moons rise and set at the same time as the sun. By the way, because it is the Equinox, there should be about 12 hours of daylight on the 20th. The sun will rise at 7 AM and set at 7:06 PM in eastern North America.

Taste of and Arctic Spring

An Arctic Spring is a unique experience. Birds return from a winter spent in the South to breed. Whales migrate to summer feeding grounds. Polar bears migrate too. Ice and snow linger longer, so snowmobiling and cross-country seasons are extended. To learn more about a Taste of the Arctic Spring.

Arctic char – a Northern delicacy

March 4th, 2015 | By | Filed in Arctic Animals, Sports

Freshly caught Arctic charThe Latin name for Arctic char is Salvelinus alpinus, a fish by any other name would taste as delicious. [Shakespeare, please forgive me.] I prefer it to salmon. Have you tried some? I like it grilled in butter and served with freshly ground black pepper.

If you have a great Arctic char recipe, please share it in the comments

This species of fish is an excellent source of protein and Omega-3. You can substitute it for salmon in your favourite recipe.

Arctic char are members of the salmonidae family that includes salmon, trout, graylings and freshwater whitefishes. They spawn in freshwater, some spend most of their lives at sea, yet some are landlocked their entire lives. Arctic char are the most northerly distributed freshwater fish.

Much of the Arctic char available in your local supermarket is farm raised. To truly appreciate the unique taste you should try wild Arctic char.

Now you can consult an Arctic Kingdom Certified Polar Advisor (AKCPA)

February 20th, 2015 | By | Filed in AK NEWS

AKCPA BadgeSome travellers prefer to make arrangements through travel professionals. We support that choice. So much so that we have introduced a travel agent education program that entitles graduates to call themselves Arctic Kingdom Certified Polar Advisors. AKCPA for short.

Only travel professionals who have attended specific training sessions and passed an exam are entitled to use the AKCPA designation. They are specialists who are passionate about polar travel and especially Arctic Kingdom’s menu of adventures. You’ll receive excellent advice when asking questions about what to expect, what to wear or when to see the Northern Lights.

Why consult an AKCPA

Every AKCPA is a subject matter expert, able to answer questions, make suggestions and book the Arctic Kingdom trip that will best suit you. They receive the latest information about changes and new trips.

Look for the AKCPA badge on business cards and websites of travel professionals in your neighbourhood. It is a sure sign of knowledgeable professional.

Are polar bears dangerous?

February 19th, 2015 | By | Filed in Arctic Animals, Current Trips

Polar bear and cubThomas Lennartz is an experienced expedition leader who has been an important part of the Arctic Kingdom family for a very long time. We were chatting the other day about the reputation of polar bears as dangerous creatures. An undeserved reputation according to Tom.

On the islands of Svalbard, where Norway’s polar bear population resides there is a precautionary principle: Keep your distance. Norwegians take seriously their stewardship of the Svalbard polar bear population. So seriously that they have published a how-to manual for visiting their polar bear territory.

Human behaviour toward polar bears can be dangerous

The answer to the question “are polar bears dangerous” lies somewhere in between Svalbard’s “Polar bears are potentially dangerous animals” and Tom’s belief that their reputation is undeserved. The key is found in our behaviour as travellers through polar bear habitat.

Baiting, pursuing or approaching polar bears feeding are three behaviours that will bring out the beast in the bears. Quietly observing polar bears in a non-threatening manner as they go about their normal activities will keep a bear calm. So calm in fact that the polar bear may ignore you completely. That is the perfect opportunity to take the money shot, like the one that illustrates this post.

The smell of breakfast cooking that drifts from a camp can draw a polar bear. The smell of bacon brings me into the kitchen from wherever I’ve been. So we shouldn’t be surprised that a polar bear reacts just like us!

When you travel with us on any of our polar bear trips, you’ll be in the hands of experts who know how to behave in polar bear country.

International Polar Bear Day – February 27, 2015

February 18th, 2015 | By | Filed in Conservation

Mother polar bear and cub

Mother and cub

What might be considered Arctic Kingdom’s favourite day of the year occurs in one week: International Polar Bear Day. Polar Bears are truly international as they are circumpolar – found everywhere in the Arctic. Did you know they are protected by an international agreement – The International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears and their Habitat.

The Polar Bear Administrative Committee (PBAC) is the Canadian organization that coordinates the efforts of provincial, territorial and federal governments to do their part to protect the marine mammals. Canadians play an important part in the protection of polar bears, 60% of the world’s population of polar bears inhabit the Canadian Arctic.

The Province of Manitoba, a member of the PBAC, has established an International Polar Bear Conservation Centre in Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg. Polar bear husbandry – the care and health of polar bears – is researched at the centre. The facility is also a transition centre for orphaned or injured polar bear cubs.

You can mark International Polar Bear Day by donating to organizations that work to protect polar bears or by making a change in your life style. Leave a smaller carbon footprint. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Take a refillable mug to your favourite copy shop. Teach your kids the importance of environmental responsibility.

We contribute to the protection of polar bears through education. No matter which of our polar bear trips a traveller chooses, he or she will return home with a better understanding of the impact that their daily lives have on the habitat of polar bears. Education is essential for conservation.

Live life like Australian entrepreneurs in Antarctica

January 29th, 2015 | By | Filed in Featured Trip

Ocean Nova in Antarctica

Ocean Nova in Antarctica

An article about 100 Australian entrepreneurs participating in a think tank in Antarctica is circulating. For an experienced traveller to the most southerly continent on the planet, there is some interesting subtext. Why did the group fly from Punta Arenas, Chile, rather than Hobart, Australia or Christchurch, New Zealand, for instance? Because our trip to Antarctica begins in Punta Arenas, I will speculate, and give you some insight into an Antarctic travel option.

Why fly to Antarctica from Chile like Australian entrepreneurs?

The number one reason people choose an Antarctic Fly and Cruise expedition is to avoid sailing the Drake Passage. The Drake is the narrow strait between the tip of South America and the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. When you look at a map of Antarctica, there is thousands of miles of open water surrounding the continent, with the exception of the Drake Passage.
Narrow is relative. The Drake is 800 km across (500 miles). That is sufficiently narrow in comparison to the rest of the continent to funnel the ever present winds that circle Antarctica, creating some of the stormiest and rough seas on the planet. My first crossing of the Drake was in a Force 9 gale.

The Holy Grail of Antarctic travel became a method of getting to that outstanding landscape without sailing the Drake. A flight from Punta Arenas, Chile, to an air base on King George Island was the answer. Just like those Australian entrepreneurs!

But…just like those entrepreneurs…you might have to wait a day or two before you actually lift off. Built into the Antarctic Fly and Cruise package are contingency plans to keep you entertained while waiting for the weather to clear. The plans cover getting to Antarctica and leaving Antarctica.

What happens when you get to Antarctica?

You board the ship-shape Ocean Nova. The small vessel was built for the icy waters of Greenland. She has a Scandinavian flair and a single dining room. I have slept aboard her. Ocean Nova is as comfortable a ship as any that ply the Antarctic Peninsula. You will visit penguin rookeries, Port Lockroy, Deception Island, and if the conditions are perfect the Gerlache Strait, one of the most beautiful stretches of water on the western coast of the Peninsula.

Why did those Australian entrepreneurs choose the Punta Arenas route?

Because there is virtually no passenger departures from Hobart anymore. Icebreakers service the Australian Antarctic research bases in the Australian territory. Those entrepreneurs had to travel like you and me, from South America.

Dare to #compare our Polar Bear Migration Fly-in Safari

January 21st, 2015 | By | Filed in Current Trips, Wildlife

Mother polar bear and cub

Mother and cub

I overheard someone who had completed a polar bear trip to Churchill. He was right. Churchill is a great place to see polar bears. But there is an alternative.

Polar bear mothers and cubs at eye level

Our Expedition Leader and bon vivant, Jason Hillier, took the photo of this mother and cub when he led a trip to our polar bear camp on the western shore of Hudson’s Bay. Do you notice the camera angle? He was eye level with the bears. How did he do that? He was leading our land-based adventure like Polar Bear Migration Fly-in Photo Safari.

“But my partner doesn’t like to rough it.”

This objection to adventure travel is one of my personal favourites, because whoever says it takes the words right out of my mouth. There is no badge of honour in my mind for discomfort while exploring the wild. Our polar bear cabins are rustic, but they all the mod cons: each of the four cabins has an en suite bathroom and a private shower. The cabins sleep two people. So do the math, no more than 8 people are sharing the extraordinary landscape, and fabulous food with you. No waiting in line. No boarding a buggy. No taking your turn behind 20 others at the buffet. Give me good food, a private cabin, facilities en suite, a sense of exclusivity and wildlife in their natural habitat on my doorstep and I will “rough it” every time!

Flights to the Arctic are expensive

No kidding! But there are bargains, especially if you know a specialist like Arctic Kingdom. We are currently quoting a rate of $1,100 + $185 (taxes & fees) per person return from Winnipeg to Churchill. The private flight from Churchill to our camp is included in the trip price.

If you are dreaming of a polar bear adventure in 2015, I dare you to compare.

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