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 by the effects of climate change.
So how exactly does one get to the North Pole? Most visitors will actually 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 on a floating slab of ice each spring. Bareno is located just one or two degrees of latitude from the Pole, granting access to those who want to go. 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.
North Pole Express - Polar Cruises (5 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 Polar Cruises, a company that specializes in polar travel, this five-day trip departs from Longyearbyen, Svalbard in Norway with a flight directly to the Barneo Ice Camp. Travelers spend the first night at the base located at approximately 89ºN before flying by helicopter to the Pole the following day. After making the trip to the top of the world, they'll later return to Barneo on day three, and back to Longyearbyen the following morning.
Expedition to the Top of the World - Poseidon Expeditions (13 days)
Arctic adventure travel company Poseidon Expeditions hosts several adventurous cruise to the North Pole each year. Those journeys begin and ends in the Russian port city 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 across 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 their way on foot.
On the return trip, the ship even stops in Russia's remote and beautiful Franz Josef Land, before returning to Murmansk. Price: $29,995
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 rather than by air or boat? A company called the Adventure Consultants offers Last Degree ski expedition to the North Pole, which takes a team of skiers across the frozen expanse of the Arctic Ocean. The journey covers approximately 60 miles (96 km) over a two week period starting at 89ºN and ending at the top of the world. 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.
If skiing the last degree to the Pole still isn't adventurous enough for you, there is one last option to consider. Adventure Consultants also offers a trip called North Pole - All The Way, which is actually a 60 day journey that covers the full distance across the Arctic starting at Ward Hunt Island in Canada and ending at 90ºN. Travelers will then depart via helicopter to Barneo Ice Camp before heading home via Longyearbyen in Norway. This is one of the toughest, most adventurous trips on the planet, and not to be taken lightly.
But, for those who do embark on it, legendary status awaits. Price: Contact the Adventure Consultants to find out.
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.