Region: The Polar Regions

Travel the North Pole – could there be a more enigmatic destination? Reaching this faraway point is as much about how you get there as it is about being one of the very few people to stand on top of the world. Before you reach the ice, there are opportunities to explore Arctic islands such as Franz Josef Land, Greenland and Svalbard, each of which offers different possibilities for wildlife encounters and landings – think polar bears hunting along the edge of the northern icefields and whales roaming the rich waters. This is another world, an icy desert of otherworldly structures, where the shifting of the frozen ocean provides a different icescape every day, meaning no two visits will ever be the same. 

Until recently there were two ways to reach the North Pole: board a nuclear-powered Russian Arktika-class icebreaker, where relatively simple accommodation was part of the experience and charm or take a helicopter to the pole itself from Barneo Ice Camp. With a new, hybrid-powered icebreaker forging a route from Greenland to the pole, there now exists a more luxurious option, with all the toys. 

Most exciting of all is arriving via airship. Drifting silently across the northern oceans and icefields before touching down at the North Pole is an experience that we think is worthy of a place on your bucket list.

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Less is known for the beauty of the Canadian Arctic but we specialise in Northwest Passage Trips for so long. The legendary ice-clogged waterways of the Canadian High Arctic have enthralled explorers ever since John Cabot first attempted the transit in 1497. It was not until 1903-06 that Roald Amundsen, the same man who would go on to beat Scott to the South Pole in 1911, became the first to complete a full transit from east to west. However, it was undoubtedly Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 expedition that captured the collective imagination.

Northwest Passage trips must be undertaken with the acceptance that the ice is in charge. As Franklin, and many others found to their ultimate cost, even at the height of summer the ever-shifting ice can create an impenetrable maze. For this reason, an expedition that enters Lancaster Sound is exactly that – an expedition. The combination of ice-capped scenery, wildlife – polar bears, guillemots, beluga, walrus, musk ox and more – history and culture all combine to build an Arctic experience like no other. There is also a unique modern community living here, descendants of the nomadic Inuit of the Canadian Arctic, who, despite being settled in small towns, have kept many of their traditions alive.

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Plan extraordinary tailor-made holidays in Greenland with us. If you were to believe in giants, Greenland would be their playground. Everything here is huge, from the fjords that cut deep into the shoreline to the city-sized icebergs of Disko Bay. It is a magical place where, in the summer months, residents of the capital Nuuk have been known to complain about the noise made by humpback whales in the bay, while in the winter, the massive skies are filled with glowing aurora.

There is evidence of nomadic hunters in this region dating as far back as 2,500BC and remains of the 6th century Dorset culture can still be seen. In the 10th century, the Vikings arrived, bringing Christianity and a link to Denmark that endures to this day.

Sailing through East Greenland will take you to Kangertittivaq (Scoresby Sund), the largest fjord system in the world. Icebergs, walrus and bowhead whales can all be seen in the daylight hours of autumn, while the aurora illuminate the night sky.

Southern Greenland is fast becoming a Mecca for hikers, climbers and kayakers – with landscapes that dwarf the likes of Patagonia, it’s easy to understand why. 

It’s fair to say that the west offers the most options for our clients, from dog-sledding and snowmobiling to kayaking with humpbacks, camping on the icecap and setting sail for the Northwest Passage. So, what are you waiting for? Plan your next holidays in Greenland with cazenove+loyd. 

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Do you want to discover polar bears at their natural habitat? Plan your luxury trip to Churchill, Canada, to experience the life of polar bears and beluga whales, enjoy dog sledding or see the Northern lights. Once a trading post of the Hudson Bay Company, the small town of Churchill is most famous for polar bears, substantial numbers of which migrate here from August until the bay freezes in mid to late November. Thanks to the natural topography of Hudson Bay, the big freeze starts here, at the mouth of the Churchill River, which creates the perfect haul out for ring seals – the polar bear’s favourite meal.

During the summer months, around 60,000 beluga whales migrate here to breed and calf in safety of the open water. The sight of them is astounding but the sound of these ‘canaries of the sea’ is even more impressive.

If that is not reason enough for a trip to Churchill, this is also one of the finest places in the world to see the aurora borealis. Located directly under the Van Allen belt, the aurora are visible for some 300 days of the year. February is the perfect time to experience these fabled lights.

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Is the spectacular archipelago of Svalbard the jewel in the Arctic crown? Travel to Svalbard with the experts to discover the beauty and wilderness of the arctic ocean.

This is a place where polar bears outnumber people, their presence taken so seriously that no-one is allowed to leave the town of Longyearbyen without a gun. Arctic fox, reindeer and various species of seal flourish here too, joined by whales, walrus and, come summer, some 230 species of bird, which flock here to breed.

For the active traveller, options abound, from hiking and snowshoeing to kayaking, skiing and snowmobiling. You will also discover ancient whaling stations, abandoned trappers’ huts and groovy lodges, such as the Isfjord Radio Adventure Hotel, a former radio station that comes complete with a sauna on the edge of the tundra and uses local produce to create fabulous Arctic-inspired cuisine.

While it is possible to visit at any time of the year, the most common time to explore Svalbard falls between May and September, when the archipelago becomes accessible to expedition ships and the famous midnight sun illuminates the landscape 24-hours a day.

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Windswept, barren and populated primarily by sheep and penguins, you may be wondering why travel to Falkland Islands, but the diversity of the 740 islands that make up this archipelago may surprise you. If you arrive by ship, then your first wildlife experience will likely be the black-browed albatross and rockhopper penguin colonies of West Point Island. Each species gathers in its thousands on the steep cliffs, above dolphins swimming in the bay and ground nesting birds living happily alongside giant elephant seals. It’s a different world in the capital, Stanley, where you can walk along Thatcher Drive and explore the wonderfully eclectic museum.

If you’ve chosen to fly from either Chile or Brize Norton, then the RAF base at Mount Pleasant will be your introduction to the islands – don’t let the 1950s time warp put you off. Independent travellers can island hop with relative ease thanks to the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS). You can explore the freshwater lagoons and four-mile white sand beach of Pebble Island, go fly fishing from Port Howard, hike from Darwin to Goose Green, visit the cemetery at San Carlos, admire king penguins at Volunteer Point and be woken by gentoo penguins on Sea Lion Island.

It might not be the most glamorous destination, but it is definitely one of the most rewarding.

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Travel to South Georgia where, in May 1916, Ernest Shackleton, along with Frank Worsley and Tom Crean, completed the first ever crossing of this mountainous, ice-covered island. So linked to South Georgia did Shackleton become that, when ‘The Boss’ died six years later, Lady Shackleton had his body returned to rest in the cemetery at Grytviken. Since the rediscovery of his ship, the Endurance, in March 2022, this story of survival against the odds is on everyone’s lips once more.

Today, South Georgia would be almost unrecognisable to Shackleton and his crew. The whaling stations that wreaked such devastation among the southern oceans are now rotting hulks and the successful eradication of non-native species – rats, mice, reindeer – means wildlife is flourishing. Colonies of king penguins at St Andrews Bay, Sailsbury Plain and Gold Harbour comfortably exceed 100,000 birds. Wandering albatross breed and fledge their chicks on the windswept grasslands of Prion Island, black sooty mantle albatross can be spotted in the cliffs and everywhere you go fur seals follow. Giant male elephant seals weighing up to four tonnes fight it out over their hareems while leopard seals and orca patrol the waters in search of an easy meal. When people want to see polar wildlife in action this is where they come.

You can only travel to South Georgia island by ship: there is no runway, and it is too far for any helicopter to reach. While there are a few dedicated South Georgia voyages, most last around three weeks and include time in the Falkland Islands as well as the Antarctic Peninsula itself. Choosing the right ship, with the right expedition team and focus of interest is the key to an unforgettable voyage, which is where our specialists come in. 

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Plan your luxury holidays in Iceland to explore geysers, volcanoes, geothermal lagoons, spectacular waterfalls and breathtaking scenery. Europe’s most sparsely populated country is an awe-inspiring destination, particularly for adventure lovers or nature enthusiasts alike.

We can suggest the best places to stay, from luxury lodges to private houses, and arrange a wonderful trip for you here. We will also design unforgettable experiences, such as securing private access to a stunning ice cave, where you will feast on delicious food prepared by your own chef and sip Brennivin, Iceland’s signature spirit, from ice glasses.

For winter adventures, such as glacier walking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog-sledding and witnessing the magical Northern Lights, we recommend travelling between November and March. Between June and August is the best time for exploring Reykjavík, hiking, horse riding or visiting volcanoes, geothermal pools and lava tunnels.

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