It wasn’t just luck, however. While that of course is part of the equation, an equally important part is the expedition team, and ours couldn’t have been better. Our guides exuded an enthusiasm the entire trip as if it was their first time in these locations as well. Their energy each day brought their knowledge of the region to life and made the briefings both educational and engaging. As two young guys, we were hoping to have a relatively active adventure, and they managed to deliver on that while also catering to others in the group who preferred a slower pace.
Recognizing that our wildlife encounters in the Arctic, as with any natural environment, would be subject to chance, we tried to manage expectations going in, telling ourselves that we’d be happy no matter what.
We saw polar bears in multiple different settings: feeding on a whale carcass, sleeping on land, strolling along the shore, hopping from iceberg to iceberg, swimming across a stretch of sea, leading a cub, and – most exhilarating of all – sniffing out our vessel from just a few meters away. The “Polar Bear Explorer” certainly lived up to its name. What’s more, we had similarly incredible sightings of walruses, whales, foxes, reindeer, puffins, and several types of birds.