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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.

Cannot think of a better way to have celebrated my 50th

January 19th, 2015 | By | Filed in Diving, Featured Trip

Narwhal at the floe edge

Narwhal at the floe edge

I have been going through our guestbooks this morning. What a pleasure it has been, I say with no modesty whatsoever.

A 50th, or 21st or just for the heck of it

One entry inspired today’s post. Elaine wrote this at the end of her Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari: “There are no words good enough to express the once in a lifetime experience of this trip. The Arctic is beautiful. The people beyond friendly. The wildlife and environment awe inspiring. The people met just great. The Arctic Kingdom crew fabulous, friendly, helpful. Just a lovely experience and I cannot think of a better way to have celebrated my 50th. Thanks, thanks, thanks.”

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate any special occasion than a visit to the Arctic. But…you don’t have wait for a special occasion…because an Arctic Adventure is always a special occasion. Don’t take my word for it. Read what Angie had to say about her Great Migration adventure: “Am amazing, too short, week in the Arctic. My obsession continues as I already look forward to a return trip. Truly fabulous photography at the floe edge. I will take the badge for Arctic diving, although probably the shortest dive completed. and I will leave the honor of acquiring an underwater split of a narwhal to a more adventurous photographer.”

Is 2015 your year to take the Arctic off your bucket list?

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Arctic

January 7th, 2015 | By | Filed in ACTIVITIES, Featured Trip

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

I had romance on my mind yesterday, so I used a well-known travel site for some comparison shopping. I want to spend Valentine’s Day in the Arctic. How romantic would it be to spoon under the Northern Lights? [As I tell everyone, they are a natural phenomenon, so there is no guarantee they'll appear on Valentine's night just because I want them to.]

Valentine’s Day Arctic Weekend Getaway

Why was I comparison shopping, you might be asking, because I work for an Arctic tour operator? We like to keep our promises honest. We’ve been promising the best value Arctic Weekend Getaway for some time now. That well known travel site offered 2 nights hotel with flights from Ottawa – and that is it – nothing else – for $2,821 per person, including taxes and service charges. Guess what our weekend package price for the Valentine’s Day weekend costs? $1,515.99 per person, including taxes and service charges. That’s a romantic savings of $1,305 per person. $2,610 a couple!

Our price includes 2 nights hotel, the airfare from Ottawa to Iqaluit, a city tour and airport transfers in Iqaluit! Plus…we amp up the romance by adding a bottle of champagne and a dog-sledding trip for $500 a couple – you’ll still save $2,110 a couple!

What is romantic about dog-sledding?

If you have to ask, you have never cuddled under a blanket aboard a travelling sled. You get to squeeze your main-squeeze in a wonderland of snow. Warm up with hot chocolate afterward. You are going to thank me!

Book your Valentine’s Day Arctic Weekend Getaway online, right now.

Narwhal or Narwhals? 5 things you may not know about the Arctic whale

January 6th, 2015 | By | Filed in Arctic Animals

A pair of narwhal

A pair of narwhal

What is the plural of narwhal?

The answer to that trick question is narwhal and narwhals are equally correct. What you choose to use is up to you.

What is a tusk made of?

The tusk is a tooth that grows from the upper jaw of the male of the species. Every tusk has as many as 10 million nerve endings inside it. On rare occasion one has been seen with two tusks.

What color is the Arctic whale?

That depends on its age. Blue-gray is the colour of a newborn, with juveniles turning blue-blac. Adults are mottled. Narwhal that live to an old age turn almost all white.

What is the Inuktituk name for narwhal?

Qilalugaq tugaalik is the traditional name. Scientists refer to the whale as monodon monoceros. Linguists claim that the English name comes from the Old Norse: Nar (corpse) and hvalr (whale).

Where can you see them in the wild?

We are glad you asked! The greatest number  summer in the Canadian Arctic at the north end of Baffin Island and Prince Regent Inlet. Baffin Island is the narwhal capital of the world. Our adventure – Narwhal and Polar Bear Safari – occurs when the narwhal migrate from Baffin Bay where they spend the winter months.

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