What's an intrepid adventure traveler to do when they've already visited all seven continents, climbed Kilimanjaro, hiked the Inca Trail, and sailed the Galapagos Islands? Why, visit the North Pole of course!
Not many people realize that it is actually possible to make the journey to the very top of the world, but for those who are adventurous enough, and have plenty of cash, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit a place that few other people ever get to see.
It isn't easy of course, but the end result is an exciting adventure to one of the most remote places on the planet. A place that is quickly being altered thanks to climate change.
So how exactly does one get to the North Pole? Some people will sail there aboard ships specifically designed to cut through the crushing ice found in the Arctic Ocean. Others will go through a place called the Barneo Ice Camp, which is a temporary base built by a team of Russian engineers each spring just one degree of latitude from the Pole. That camp includes a landing strip for aircraft and a small tent settlement where visitors stay while making their way to and from the Pole by helicopter. Both routes offer access to 90ºN, with various tour operators and guide services taking clients on epic adventures to a place seldom visited by man.
Interested in making the journey yourself? Here are a few examples of trips that can take you there.
Barneo Ice Camp Express - Quark Expeditions (3 days)
Want to visit the top of the world in as short of a timespan as possible? Then this is the trip for you. Hosted by Quark Expeditions, a company that specializes in polar travel, this three-day trip depart from Longyearbyen, Svalbard in Norway with a flight directly to the Barneo Ice Camp.
Travelers spend that night at the base at 89ºN before flying by helicopter to the Pole the next day. They'll later return to Barneo and begin the trip home the following day. Price:
North Pole - Icebreaker Voyage to the Top of the World - Poseidon Expeditions (14 days)
Arctic adventure travel company Poseidon Expeditions hosts several cruises to the North Pole each year that begin in Helsinki, Finland with a flight to the Russian port of Murmansk. From there, travelers set sail aboard the 50 Years of Victory, the largest and most sophisticated commercial icebreaker ever built. Driven by two nuclear reactors, it is capable of slicing through ice 3 meters thick, while carrying 128 passengers safely through the frozen Arctic Ocean. They'll travel across the Berents Sea, stopping just short of the ultimate goal of the North Pole, where passengers disembark and make the rest of the way on foot. On the return trip, the ship even stops in Russia's remote and beautiful Franz Josef Land, before returning to Murmansk.
Ski the Last Degree to the North Pole - Adventure Consultants (15-19 days)
Want to try something really adventurous? Why not travel to the North Pole on foot instead? This trip, led by the Adventure Consultants, takes a team of skiers across the frozen expanse of the Arctic Ocean, covering approximately 60 miles (96 km) over a two week period starting at 89ºN and ending at the North Pole itself.
This is a tough, demanding trip, but incredibly rewarding as well. Those who embark on this expedition don't just visit the Arctic, they actually live in it on their way to the top of the world.
These are the most common ways to travel to the North Pole. There are other travel companies that can facilitate similar experiences, but these trips will give you a taste of what is available provided you have a spirit for adventure and a deep wallet.