Retreat to the north: tourism in the Arctic.

At the top

Russia occupies the fourth place in the ranking of countries – centers of Arctic tourism.

August 25, 2020

In 2019, 1.17 million tourists went to conquer the Russian Far North – to seek adventure and new islands, to study the structure of icebreakers, to meet walruses and polar bears in the glow of the polar lights. Let’s find out what routes “on the roof of the world” attract travelers and why.

First of all, extreme climbers and fans of outdoor activities come to the Far North to test their strength and recharge their adrenaline. They take part in long skiing trips, including the ones along the Arctic Ocean coast. Sometimes such passages resemble survival tours: participants must be able to find their own food and lodging and stay within the travel schedule.

There are also multiday Arctic tours by dog sled from the north of Yakutia to the coast of the Arctic Ocean and further to several islands. During such tour tourists travel several thousand kilometers, a hundred kilometers a day, and dogsleds have to drive themselves.

The main center of attraction, of course, remains the North Pole. And while some of them reach their dreams on board of comfortable atomic icebreaker “50 years of Victory”, others try to ski or parachute to the cherished point.

There are also those who are attracted to more traditional, but still quite risky vacations: river rafting, ice diving, car racing on the ice, downhill kayaking (snowmobiling), winter surfing in the northern seas. And, of course, fans of mountain skiing go to the North – there are good resorts in most Russian Arctic regions.

Another trend, which is gaining popularity, is traveling on abandons. This is the name of abandoned, half-forgotten objects in the North – from old Pomor crosses, which are 300-400 years old, to abandoned human settlements, weather stations, military towns, large ships and other large equipment.

Even a map of abandons has been drawn up, and more than 500 objects are currently marked on it. But actually, assure the experienced people, there is much more. Anyway, orphan structures and constructions became unexpectedly the most interesting and extremely popular place of tourist attraction. Probably because it is not only an extreme, but also our history.

A number of tour programs is associated with the culture and traditions of the indigenous peoples of the North. It is not only visiting of historical monuments, museums, and ethno villages, but also participation in traditional holidays. For example, the Day of Reindeer Herder is celebrated in all northern regions of Russia. Its obligatory attributes are reindeer sledding races and competitions in traditional sports, such as jumping over sleds, axe throwing, running with a stick over rough terrain or special types of wrestling.

The Evenki New Year is celebrated in June. April is the Day of the Crow – “Kharnayal”, which, according to the traditions of the residents of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, symbolizes the coming of spring and the rebirth of life. In Kamchatka you do not want to miss the Festival of the first fish, in the Krasnoyarsk Territory – the traditional Ket River Day …

The national holidays offer tourists ancient rituals, traditional cuisine, master classes in traditional crafts. And all this surrounded by harsh and at the same time vulnerable northern nature.

Those, who in addition to impressions, value comfort, choose Arctic cruises. The price for a tour to the northern archipelagos starts from 1 million rubles. You can travel by different routes, for example, to the North Pole or along the Northern Sea Route (NSR), both from west to east and in the opposite direction. Also the liners ply within the boundaries of a certain region, for example near the islands in the Murmansk region or Chukotka. Cruise tourism is famous for its rich program: shore excursions, animal watching, master classes from famous bloggers and photographers and even helicopter tours.

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The cruise on the NSR is the longest of the northern ones. For 27-28 days travelers conquer such “impassable” seas as the Laptev and East Siberian. According to the British magazine Wanderlus, it is one of the top 20 most interesting cruising itineraries in the world.

But no matter who is an extreme tourist, history connoisseur or a cruise lover – the northern nature will for sure impress him with its pristine purity and power. Ecological trails and eco-routes, developed in specially protected natural areas, will help to get acquainted with it.

One of the key protected areas of the region is the National Park “Russian Arctic”, which includes part of the archipelago islands of Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land archipelago. It is possible to get to the polar lands by a cruise ship or ice-class yacht from Murmansk or the port of Longyear Island. Spitsbergen. All biodiversity is protected here, including birds, lichens, mosses and fungi.

The national park conducts scientific work in different directions and calculates the population of polar bears. The Park’s team takes part in expeditions to study cetaceans, launches projects on alternative energy and meets tourists from different parts of the world – from China, the USA, France, Germany… Last year, 1300 people visited the Russian Arctic – a record number for this protected area.

One of the main points of attraction of Evenkia is the Putoransky Reserve. The Putorana plateau, a sacred place of the northern peoples, is located here. In the Murmansk region tourists visit the Lapland Nature Reserve.

There are five separate mountain ranges and eight separate lake and river systems: each may contain dozens of water bodies, and several rivers, from source to mouth, flow exclusively through the protected natural area. And, of course, the main wonder of Lapland are the relict forests. Some forests date back up to 10 thousand years – and all because they have never been touched by a human hand: people have never lived here.

And one more type of eco-tourism is gaining popularity – Arctic subbotniks. Volunteers not only admire the beauty of the North, but also take part in clearing territories from garbage – we are talking about tens of thousands of tons of waste. For example, the administration of Russian Arctic Park asks their guests to help with the garbage collection and gives them a letter of gratitude and a commemorative badge.

News

September 5, 2022 The mining and processing plant will be built in the Arctic on the basis of the “Pavlovskoye” lead-zinc ore deposit

Corporation for Development of the Far East and the Arctic (CDC) and the First Ore-Mining Company signed an agreement on investment activities in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation envisaging construction of a mining and processing complex on Yuzhny Island of Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arkhangelsk region. The core deposit will be the Pavlovskoye lead-zinc ore deposit.

The company has also developed a program to support indigenous minorities of the North.

5 September 2022 YNAO authorities confirmed the final expedition to Vilkitsky Island in 2023

Governor Dmitry Artyukhov noted the increased involvement of residents to participate in environmental actions.

September 3, 2022 Volunteers of “Clean Arctic” collected about 18 tons of scrap metal in the national park of Komi for three days Komi

A resident of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation opened a khinkalaya in Vorkuta

AZRF resident opened medical centers in Yamal fields

A resident of the Arctic Zone of Russia opened a three-star hotel and business complex in Naryan-Mar, which is the first completed project of the residents of the Arctic Zone of Russia in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO)

A resident of the Arctic Zone of Russia opened a modern ophthalmology center in Murmansk

AZRF resident builds unusual tourist complex in Murmansk region

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A resident of Russia’s Arctic zone will build medical facilities and hotels in Chukotka

The first private carrier with the status of the Russian Arctic Zone resident appeared in Chukotka

AZRF resident will build a recreation center in a polar village

By the end of 2024 AZRF resident will create a new tourist complex, where holidaymakers will be introduced to the traditions and life of the Pomors.

The new AZRF resident will create a rear railway terminal in Arkhangelsk

AZRF resident will create a large transport hub in YaNAO

The first projects of tin, gold and diamond mining are being implemented in the north of Yakutia.

The project of Russian Arctic zone resident became the best family enterprise opened for tourists

Chukchi delicacies are the key to success of a new Arctic fast food chain

The new diving center on the shore of the Barents Sea will offer its guests a crab safari

A small vegetable growing business has proved that it is profitable for everyone to work in the Special Economic Zone

Resident of Arctic Zone of Russian Federation (ASRF) will set up production of liquid ice generators

How the recipients of their Arctic hectares are going to dispose of them

Why work beyond the Arctic Circle can be a dream job and how to find it

The highest mountain restaurant in the Northwest of Russia is a new attraction in Kirovsk

Green Energy Technologies in Extreme Arctic Conditions

Russian Arctic Zone resident will catch and process seafood with unique properties

The hotel closest to the slopes will be situated in Kirovsk (Murmansk region) in a historical building built in 1935 and will be dedicated to the mythical northern country of Hyperborea

Conquering the Arctic: how to reach the North Pole

The Arctic is a vast northern region of the Earth, which is adjacent to the North Pole and includes the outskirts of Eurasia, North America and almost the entire Arctic Ocean with its islands. Arctic is conquered not only by scientists and explorers but also by dreamers who are driven by the spirit of explorers and love for extreme outdoor activities.

How to get to the Arctic expedition and find yourself among the giant glaciers – we tell in this article. Those who have already been to the Arctic say that they did not even know about the existence of such beauties: northern lights, the tops of giant glaciers, amazing landscapes.

Arctic

How to get to the North Pole

To get here is not that easy, but still there are options. Most often one reaches the North Pole by atomic icebreaker cruise or by helicopter expedition from Barneo Ice Base.

On an icebreaker to the top of the planet - expeditionary cruise to the North Pole

North Pole, Arctic

Popular Arctic Destinations

Because of the vast territories, it is simply impossible to explore the entire Arctic. But there are still places available for people to visit. Arctic tourism is not a mass phenomenon, but it occupies a stable niche. Each year, the number of tourists visiting the islands and archipelagos of the Arctic is only growing.

There are 192 islands, the most visited of which are Champa, Gallia, Norbruka and others. Tikhaya Bay is also popular: it keeps the memory of the era of Arctic exploration. On the most popular Arctic itineraries you will encounter islands with bird bazaars, walrus rookeries, and you may even see whales.

Expedition to the North Pole

Spitsbergen

This island is famous for its beautiful scenery and the mothballed villages of Grumant and Pyramid. There you can see an abandoned coal mine and empty Soviet-era buildings. All is well with the infrastructure here, so there are tours with the movement on foot in the summer.

Uninhabited archipelago Franz Josef Land

On this famous island there are perfectly round rocks of various sizes – some are small and can be taken as a souvenir, while others are up to several meters in diameter. There is also the Rubini Rock Monument, home to a unique colony of birds of the archipelago. To get to this point, the closest to the North Pole is on an icebreaker.

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The route of arctic expedition

Wrangel Island

Here is the largest in the Arctic rookeries of walruses, and the reserve of the same name is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage. One can meet polar bears, walruses, whales, polar birds and musk oxen. Some tours offer tourists an introduction to the life of Chukchi reindeer herders and a walk through the town of Evgekinot, which was built by Gulag prisoners. You can also get to Cape Dezhnev and try the national Eskimo food.

North Pole

Why go to the Arctic and the North Pole

Find out interesting stories from our guides

During the movement of the expedition ship, the guides tell about interesting facts related to the Arctic, about the places where travelers landed. You will learn how and when the Pomors discovered these or those islands in the Arctic. Expeditionary guides will tell in detail about the climate, flora and fauna of the Arctic.

Explore new unexplored shores

Almost all Arctic tours involve landing on the coastal part of the islands. You reach the shore using inflatable “Zodiac” boats, which are rugged and reliable. In some tours ashore you can not only get acquainted with the cultural heritage of the Arctic, but also visit the meteorological and research stations. And in Tichoi Bay on Gooker Island, you can even send a postcard by stopping by the local post office.

Observe the unspoiled wildlife

Routes are laid out in such a way that you can see the most interesting places and watch the animals and birds. Landings are organized depending on weather and ice conditions. Under favorable conditions, you can explore the shore, sail boats along the glacier and watch icebergs floating by.

The shoreline offers spectacular panoramic views of unspoiled Arctic nature. You can also make discoveries without leaving the ship. Open decks are a great place to watch sea birds accompanying the ship: seabirds, skuas, grouse. If you are lucky, you can see a whale or a seal, which usually appear quite unexpectedly.

Polar bears in the Arctic

Getting to know the locals

During the tour, you will go to the places of residence of the indigenous peoples who inhabit the coastal part of the Arctic. One of them is a settlement of reindeer herders in Chukotka, near the village of Egvekinot.

Reindeer breeding is the main occupation of many indigenous peoples of the North, which is the basis of culture and all life. During the tour you will learn about the traditions, local cuisine, folk crafts, such as bone carving and sewing of national clothes.

Learn to take pictures

Arctic cruises offer tourists free photography workshops. Professional photographers share their knowledge and secrets of how to take beautiful memorable pictures on board and during landings. There are excellent photo opportunities on Franz Josef Land: blooming tundra, polar desert, bird colonies on rocks, coastal glaciers.

Types of Tours

Tours to the North Pole – this is an exclusive expensive travel program, which in Russia sells only a few travel companies. Expeditionary cruise tours are the main type of tourism in the national park, “Russian Arctic”. First of all, these are Arctic cruises directly in the waters of Franz Josef Land archipelago and cruises to the North Pole with a visit to the territory. You can also visit the territory of the park on ice-class yachts.

Helicopter tour to the North Pole lasts 3-4 days, and the cruise on the atomic icebreaker “50 Years of Victory” takes 12 days. In fact, the helicopter expedition can last much longer, because the departure to the mainland from the Barneo ice camp can be delayed due to weather conditions.

Journey on a nuclear-powered icebreaker

Journey to the North Pole on a nuclear-powered icebreaker, a vessel worth over $2 billion! The conquest of the pole and the opportunity to make the fastest trip around the world. Visit to the legendary archipelago Franz Josef Land. A chance to see polar bears and walruses.

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The atomic icebreaker “50 Years of Victory” built at the Baltic Shipyard. To date, it is the world’s largest nuclear-powered icebreaker. A new generation digital automatic control system is installed on the ship. The biological protection system of the nuclear power plant has been modernized. An environmental compartment with the latest equipment for the collection and utilization of all waste products of the vessel’s vital functions was also created. The vessel is owned by the state and operated by FSUE Atomflot. At your service: restaurant, which can accommodate all passengers, two bars, library, lecture room, music salon, gym, sauna and swimming pool with heated sea water.

In the footsteps of the great discoverers

The routes go along the places where the famous explorers of the northern spaces sailed. Thus, a voyage to Franz Josef Land is associated with the names of Georgy Sedov, Fridtjof Nansen, Frederick Johansen, members of the expedition “St. Anna”. And the expedition to the islands of the Russian Arctic follows the route of explorer Vladimir Rusanov, to whom the novel “Two Captains” is dedicated. Tourists can visit significant historical places and feel themselves as explorers of the past centuries.

Helicopter Expedition to the North Pole

With this tour you will ride on a real ice drifting station and become a professional polar explorer for a while. Extreme is also available here: you can go a short distance on skis and with a laden sled. Additionally you can take a bath in the glade bathhouse and swim in the waters of the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole.

Expedition and hiking tours

If the tours take place along the coast, travelers traverse the route on skis, snowmobiles, dog sleds, and on foot. Such expeditions exist on the coast of the Murmansk region, Spitsbergen, Chukotka and the Nenets Autonomous District. Tourists are instructed in safety, rules of conduct on board and during transitions on land, explaining how to use inflatable boats “Zodiac” to move on the water.

Extreme Tours

Buying an extreme tour you have to put up with the weather conditions and the risk of getting caught in a blizzard. Expeditions with such difficulties do not do without experienced guides, but you have to rely on yourself. Such tours are suitable for physically prepared adventurers. What activities await you:

Dog sledding expedition – a real wilderness adventure, including an extreme route through the Far North with permafrost

Extreme helicopter tour, which includes a parachute jump, swimming and ice diving in a special wetsuit in the Arctic Ocean.

The cost of travel in the Arctic

A helicopter expedition to the North Pole costs 16,900 euros per person in the 2017 season, and a cruise on a nuclear-powered icebreaker costs $27,995 per person for a seat in the cheapest cabin. That’s because a nuclear-powered icebreaker is a strategic, uranium-fueled facility whose freight day is very expensive. The Barneo ice camp is also very expensive to charter and maintain.

On an icebreaker to the top of the planet - expeditionary cruise to the North Pole

North Pole, Arctic

Traveling to the Arctic is literally expensive. To the cost of the tour itself, you should add the cost of the flight, additional program items, and personal expenses.

The most budget-friendly option is a trip to the coastal zone. It will cost about 100,000 rubles. And the most expensive cruise on the icebreaker costs almost 2 million rubles. The average price for a cruise to the Arctic without visiting the North Pole for 8-14 days ranges from 350,000 to 700,000 rubles per person.

Arctic climate

Season of Arctic cruises to the North Pole is in July and August. At this time the Arctic has a polar day and comfortable temperatures. Helicopter expeditions to the North Pole are traditionally organized in April, when there is long enough daylight hours. Temperature is about 20 °С below zero.

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The North Pole is much warmer than the South Pole, because it is at sea level in the middle of the ocean (which acts as a heat store), rather than at altitude in the center of the continent.

In summer, the sun shines 24 hours a day. The average temperature ranges from -10 to +10 ° C. This is the most favorable period for expeditions. In winter, polar night reigns in the Arctic region. And the air temperature can drop below -45 ° C. Average air temperature at the North Pole in winter is about -40 °С, in summer – mostly about 0 °С.

Memo to tourists

The most important rule – tours to the North Pole must be booked a year to six months before your departure. You can do it later, but there may be no seats, and if they are available, you will have to pay for the trip at once, rather than by installments. Take the trip seriously, because it may be the trip of a lifetime.

What else do you need to keep in mind and what rules should be observed when visiting a specially protected area? We will tell you about them below.

The itinerary of the trip may vary

Don’t be surprised if the actual course of the expedition differs from the announced program. Arctic weather conditions are variable, so activities and their duration may also change. Where and when to go is up to the captain and the expedition team. But tourists do not need to worry: 24 hours of polar day will allow to enjoy all the beauty of the Arctic and get a lot of impressions;

There will be experts and experienced instructors on the trip

They will share their knowledge about the nature of the polar region and historical information. And with them you won’t be lost, as professionals know how to survive even in harsh conditions;

Meals will be included in the price of the trip

On board, travelers are offered breakfast, lunch and dinner on an a la carte or buffet system. And unlimited hot drinks – tea, coffee and cocoa;

The ship has all the amenities

The ships are equipped with three-bed or two-bed cabins of different classes and price categories with the area of 20-30 m². They have single or double beds, a bathroom, closet, TV, refrigerator and other amenities;

Special conditions and additional services are possible

If the tour includes long hiking or ski crossings, overnight stays in the homes of the natives, you need to bring items for personal hygiene, personal first aid kit, repellent, warm clothes, personal sleeping bag. More complete recommendations give managers depending on the characteristics of the tour.

Frequently asked questions

How is safety ensured during the visit of Arctic Expedition?

Cruises are necessarily accompanied by armed park inspectors, who have received special training. There are life-saving equipment and satellite communication on board.

What can I bring as a memory of the trip?

It is not allowed to move and remove objects of living and inanimate nature from the territory of the Park. You can buy various souvenirs, including guidebooks about the Russian Arctic, books about Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, felt magnets, unique certificates with pieces of barrels taken out from the islands during the Arctic “cleanup”, etc. to remember about the Russian Arctic.

How to help the “Russian Arctic” park in its work on the territory?

The most interesting way to visit the Russian Arctic Park for those who are ready to work there and are not afraid of difficulties is volunteering. If you have practical experience in the field, fill in the questionnaire in the Volunteer section on our home page. Please note that the capacity of the park is limited, so volunteer participation is also limited.

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