Travel Diaries

Ice Queens

Far out in the Barents Sea, midway between Norway’s North Cape and the North Pole, lies Svalbard as a majestic world of untouched fjords and mountains, glaciers and Arctic tundra. Polar exploration has, historically, been a man’s game. Heroic figures like Sir Ernest Shackleton and Captain Robert Falcon Scott loom large in the history books, their deeds and sacrifices the stuff of legend.

In the century since Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole, women have distinguished themselves as polar scientists, guides and expedition leaders, proving their mettle while working in some of the most inhospitable places on earth. However, despite these great strides, polar tourism remains a male-dominated industry.

Something needed to change.

Natural World Safaris (NWS) The Women of the Arctic Expedition celebrates strong, inspirational women taking on leading roles in the most hostile of environments. This Svalbard archipelago is home to around 3,000 people, and even more polar bears, walruses, whales, seals, reindeer and polar foxes, not to mention millions of sea birds. One of the world’s largest untouched wilderness areas, it is an Eldorado of nature-based experiences—all year round.

This first all-female-guided Expedition to the High Arctic, on board the M/S Freya, is certain to deliver endless adventure while providing awareness of the challenges faced by women in the Polar Regions, the barriers that have yet to be overcome, and what must be done in order for this “ice ceiling” to finally be shattered. Aboard the recently refurbished M/S Freya, each of the female guides, highly experienced in polar travel, Arctic wildlife and marine species, will offer valuable insights while you cruise this utterly unique environment. Kate Humble will share her knowledge of the impact of climate change and her experiences, including presenting Arctic Live for the BBC.

On this remarkable quest, your main challenge may be having a big enough memory card in your camera, and managing to stay awake because, as you will quickly discover, the landscapes and natural attractions up here are hung up like works of art along the entire travel route.

Never fear—both men and women are invited to celebrate what women can do at the top of the world!

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