Adventures at the top of the world

By Helen Hayes February 27, 2024
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Wild and wonderful, the best way to explore the Arctic is with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, who have been exploring the far-flung corners of the world for half a century.

This article is brought to you by Lindblad Expeditions.

Sven-Olof Lindblad, founder and CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, once said, “The Arctic is a place we should seek to better understand and appreciate – for its own sake and for the sake of the world at large.”

This isolated and rugged region, named for the Greek word arktos, which refers to the northern constellation of the Bear, is the northernmost part of the planet. With the majority of the Arctic covered in water, exploring by expedition ship is the ideal way to go, with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic able to call on decades of experience cruising in this icy wonderland, including Greenland, Iceland, the Svalbard archipelago, maritime Canada and the Northwest Passage. Sailing with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic will immerse you in this compelling region, through strong relationships with local Arctic communities forged over many years.

Guests from the National Geographic Endurance kayaking in ice off the island of Edgeoya, Svalbard, Norway. Image credit: Lindblad Expeditions

In 2024, Lindblad Expeditions, a 100 per cent carbon neutral company, has curated an impressive program that includes commemorative voyages featuring special guests, including the largest contingent of Visiting Scientists. This allows for critical research to be done, with guests able to attend talks on their findings, and in some cases, participate in the scientific process through data collection.

Responsible exploration is at the core of Lindblad’s philosophy, woven through its DNA ever since Lars-Eric Lindblad, Sven’s father, took private citizens on expeditions to Antarctica in 1966 and the Galápagos in 1967. He was the first to do so, seeing travel as a way for people to see firsthand the wonders of the world so they would want to conserve and protect it. Now with an impressive fleet of 17 ships, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic offers more than 100 itineraries on seven continents, creating planetary stewards for precious environments every single day.

Around the land of fire and ice

As part of its Arctic offerings, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has many adventures to stupendous destinations, including Iceland. For an unforgettable adventure, consider Lindblad Expeditions’ Circumnavigation of Iceland, a 10-day round trip out of Reykjavík to marvel at this striking island rich in natural wonders, wildlife and cultural history. Visit Flatey Island, a centuries-old trading post with colourful houses, where you can hike past cliffs that are home to a seasonal puffin population. In the Westfjords, hike to a remote waterfall or take a Zodiac cruise to be totally spellbound by majestic scenery. In Húsavík, visit Goðafoss, one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland, and go on an adventure in legendary Ásbyrgi Canyon, where you can hike to waterfalls in what is said to be the hoof of Odin. On the island of Grímsey on the Arctic Circle, go ashore to see myriad birdlife, while at Borgarfjörðurhöfn, add to your photography collection with puffins, and go hiking or biking for wondrous views along the fjord. In Djúpivogur, tour down the coast to see the base of the vast Vatnajökull icecap, delve into deep valleys by 4WD, and admire the ethereal deep blue icebergs of the Jökulsárlón ice lagoon.

Colourful harbour with National Geographic Resolution in background, Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) Archipelago, Iceland; A puffin in Iceland. Image credits: Lindblad Expeditions

The Wild Iceland Escape is a five-day journey with some departures featuring National Geographic Photographic Experts to help you capture the thrilling beauty of the locations visited. Skagafjörður is known for its glacial rivers and photogenic Icelandic horses, while in the Westfjords, do a walking tour of the capital – Ísafjörður. On the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, a highlight in Grundarfjörður is the waterfall on Kirkjufell Mountain, sure to be the focus of many a lens on this trip.

Iceland is also on the exceptional Coastal Wonders of Norway, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland itinerary, a 16-day extravaganza on board the National Geographic Endurance. Board the ship in Tromsø after visiting the Arctic Cathedral, and the Polar Museum, which showcases the ships, equipment, and seafaring traditions of early Arctic settlers. In Tysfjorden, glide over mirror-smooth fjords on Zodiacs or in a kayak, before gasping at the sheer beauty of Trollfjorden, one of Norway’s most dramatic fjords, and the spectacular Lofoten archipelago, with its postcard-pretty coloured houses and rugged rocky peaks.

Twitchers will want to board the Zodiacs to spot puffins, razorbills, and guillemots before flitting off to the Shetlands to look for murres, puffings and kitiwakes on the cliffs of Noss, and on Foula, an island where puffins far outnumber humands, check out rich Viking history. Culture is also at the forefront in the Faroe Islands, a drop in the North Atlantic Ocean. First settled by Vikings in the ninth century, delve into the rich culture of these fascinating islands with a visit to Tórshavn, the capital, with the 12th-century St Olav’s Church standing alongside the ruins of Kirkjubøur’s Magnus Cathedral.

Svalbard, Norway. Image credits: Lindblad Expeditions.

Take flight to the Ancient Isles

The captivating coastlines of the British and Irish Isles are an Aladdin’s Cave of bird life, marine life, and mysterious caves. Add to that communities steeped in Celtic and Viking influences, charming characters and cosy pubs, and you have the perfect experience. The 12-day Ancient Isles: England, Ireland and Scotland journeys run between Edinburgh and Portsmouth on board National Geographic Explorer. Arrive in the Cornish port of Fowey (pronounced “Foy”) in the afternoon. Hike a coastal trail or enjoy a guided walk through the village of Fowey with a local. Alternatively, learn about the history of a few beautiful Cornish estates on a visit to Lanhydrock House and Restormel Castle, or get to know local producers and growers from the Duchy of Cornwall. The Isles of Scilly can trace its roots back to prehistoric times. More than 140 different islands make up this designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Take the time to explore one of England’s most pristine beaches and watch for migrating birds that frequent the islands. Weather permitting, enjoy a Zodiac ride among some of the most popular residents of the islands: the local seal colony. In the Inner Hebrides, contemplate the sacred island of Iona with its 13th-century abbey, believed to be where the Book of Kells originated. Several Scottish kings – including the real Macbeth – are buried in the royal graveyard here. On the island of Staffa, join Jim Wilson, one of the ship’s naturalists, to learn about the island and to observe its large puffin colony, and venture inside Fingal’s Cave by Zodiac (weather permitting), renowned for its six-sided basalt columns.

A guest walking back from An Sgùrr, the highest hill on the Inner Hebridean island of Eigg, Highland, Scotland. Image credit: Lindblad Expeditions

The Outer Hebrides also shines, with more extraordinary seabird colonies. If weather permits, visit St Kilda, a traditional stone village left abandoned in 1930. The inhabitants now are gannets, wild sheep, wrens and puffins. In the Shetlands, marvel at the ponies, the bird life and the culture, while in the Orkneys, discover the Stone Age megaliths of the Ring of Brodgar, the 5000-year-old stone slab village of Skara Brae and St Magnus Cathedral, a landmark in sandstone that took three centuries to build. On two departures in 2025, the special guest speaker is Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, and former special envoy to the United Nations on climate change.

When you return home after your adventure, you will be taking Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic’s philosophy with you, ensuring you care for the wildlife, culture and communities experienced on your journey to these remote and beautiful places.

This article is brought to you by Lindblad Expeditions. For more information call 1300 362 012 or email [email protected]