It’s a new year and time for a new adventure! Where will you go? Las Vegas? Hawaii? How about something a little different? Gondwana’s Polar Bear Adventure has just been mentioned on Smarter Travel’s list of “The 12 Best Places to Travel in 2020”! Among the many exciting destinations on this list, there is only one whose existence is under threat: the Arctic Circle.
The area known as the Arctic is located just north of the Arctic Circle—the geographic boundary that marks the latitude in which the sun does not rise or set for at least one or more days during the year. In fact, the northernmost settlement in North America, Utqiagvik (formerly known as Barrow, Alaska), has 65 days of continuous darkness every year from November to December. In the summer, the sun does not drop below the horizon for up to 83 days in a row. This is where the area gets its nickname: The Land of the Midnight Sun.
The endless summer days and winter nights are not the only unique feature of the Arctic. Temperatures are extreme. In the city of Utqiagvik, they can range from -30° F or below in the winter to 50°F in the summer. It might seem like nothing could survive in this cold but the Arctic is a haven for a wide variety of animals, including polar bears, arctic foxes, snowy owls, walruses, seals and whales. It is also the home of the Inupiaq, an indigenous people who through ingenuity and hard work, have found ways to thrive in these harsh conditions for thousands of years.
The Threat of Climate Change
Unfortunately, the world of the Arctic is changing. According to NASA, Arctic sea ice is declining at a rate of 12.8% per decade. For animals that have adapted to live on the ice, this is devastating. Polar bears are especially vulnerable. They hunt seals on the ice and as it melts, they have to travel greater distances to find enough food to survive. Some populations of polar bears have declined by up to 40%.¹ Due to this, polar bears have been listed as a threatened species in the United States. But they’re not the only ones who are affected. The melting of the sea ice earlier in the summer months throws the migration of walruses out of sync, causing mass stampedes along the coasts of Russian and Alaska.² Reindeer and caribou are also changing their migratory behaviors as warmer weather and earlier summers change the type of vegetation that grows on their normal grazing grounds.
The Gondwana Polar Bear Adventure
Awareness and conservation are more important than ever before as the threat of climate change looms over the Arctic. That’s why Gondwana Ecotours has put together a tour that is not only thrilling but also educational. Our custom Polar Bear Adventure takes travelers to the top of the world to get incredible views and photographs of polar bears in the wild! They’ll get to meet Inupiaq tribal elders to learn about their traditional way of life and how it’s been affected by climate change as well as speak to an environmental activist who’s an expert in this field. From the unique culture to the amazing landscapes and one-of-a-kind polar bear viewing, it’s an unforgettable adventure that travelers will never forget. But don’t just take our word for it, check out these reviews from our happy travelers!
¹”Polar Bears Listed as Threatened 10 Years Ago,” Polar Bears International, (May 11, 2018).
²”Walrus,” World Wildlife Fund.