As close to Santa as you’re going to get.
If you’ve never heard of Svalbard yet, let this be the moment you become acquainted with the ultra-remote weekend adventure found just 600 miles from the North Pole, and technically part of Norway, although it hardly feels Norwegian. It’s an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean that features a group of adventure-worthy cold climate islands, and a very sparse total population of roughly 2,600 people. Talk about small town-feeling, right?
The islands were first used for whaling, and are still some of the best spots on Earth to watch and photograph whales thanks to a year-round arctic climate, as well as Arctic fox, polar bears, marine animals, and perhaps the least shocking animal of all, reindeer. By most accounts, 60% or more of Svalbard’s land is actually glaciers, and there are no connecting roads between settlements, which means you’ll need to be skilled with a snowmobile to get there and truly enjoy it.
Or, you’ll need to take an organized tour.
Red Savannah, an adventure tour company, offers itineraries that offer adventure-seekers close encounters with polar bears, walruses, seals, fox families, eider ducks, reindeer, and ptarmigans.
Guests can dogsled across Svalbard, check out a working coal mining city, visit an abandoned Russian mining town (about 30% of Svalbard’s population is actually Russian), snowmobile to a ghost radio station, and even camp under the stars. Visions of the Northern Lights and more stars than you’ve ever seen before are included, gratis.
Obviously you’ll win every Instagram pic competition of all time if you manage to capture the Northern Lights. We think you can let your regularly scheduled palm trees and beach escapes go just this once.
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