As a person who is completely new to the outdoors (e.g. has never been camping), but is fascinated by the arctic and would love to try (at least once) to go on an expedition, what would be advice for how to start this?

Are there any groups of people who go (so as not to go alone)? What things should one search about? What month is the best to go? Moreover, how many days would a typical expedition last? What would be a typical cost?

Thank you very much!

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    This is one of those "if you have to ask..." things. – Mark Sep 4 at 3:19
  • If you have to ask, you clearly ... don't know the answer? – anatolyg Sep 7 at 8:07
  • Do you literally mean inside the Arctic Circle (which is very, very far North) or would you include places that are a long way north and have arctic-like conditions like permafrost and polar bears? – DJClayworth Sep 9 at 15:58
  • I've done canoe trips north of the Arctic circle, north of timberline. That's a stage tougher than boreal forest canoeing. But the archipelago is a bunch tougher yet. But there are routine tourist trips to northern villages like Grise Fjord and Coral Beach. – Sherwood Botsford Sep 9 at 21:41

The short answer is - you can't do an expedition. It takes lots of time, money and effort to organize an expedition and requires experience.

Your best bet for visiting the Arctic (anywhere above the Arctic circle) would be to either fly or drive. You can fly to Barrow, Alaska, or you can fly into Norway, Sweden, Denmark or Russia and then drive to Arctic communities with no problems at all. There are cruise ships that visit the Arctic too (though maybe not at the moment with Covid-19). You could also fly to somewhere like Greenland potentially, but I think it would be boats from the towns to the Arctic.

If you are serious about an expedition - this is something that takes a lot of time, planning and last but definitely not least, money. We are talking cost per person in the $50,000-100,000 or more sort of range. It involves transport, food, shelter, clothing, equipment, where exactly, when exactly, how many people, weather, etc. It also generally requires experience - this is not something you can just do without any out-door experience at all.

So - with no experience how would you go about this?

Well, the answer is to start - go camping first off (maybe you'll hate it) - try your local forest park. From there, go hiking on trails. Then with time and experience, go hiking off trail and at different altitudes for longer and longer times (days/weeks). Then, with more experience, try camping and hiking in the winter with snow and ice. Learn to navigate by map and compass in the hills, learn snow/ice techniques, first aid.

Once you have a start on those, you might be able to consider planning your own expedition - but to get the money you generally need sponsors (like your favourite sports star has) - which means you need a goal - so what are you going to do, that will impress people enough that they will fund you?

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  • Define ‘expedition’? My summer vacation plan had been to drive from the SW of the USA to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic in a 4WD truck. Lots of camping, but real (if unpaved) roads. Is that an expedition? – Jon Custer Sep 3 at 0:43
  • @JonCuster - The classic expedition would be to untracked wilderness a la Scott or Amundesen. In the context of the Arctic it would generally mean out on the ice, unsupported or perhaps supported by air-drop or boat. – bob1 Sep 3 at 1:13
  • $100k/person sounds expensive. I talked to someone who tried to organise an expedition to Mount Paget, South Georgia (I think 4 weeks in total, boat from Falklands), which is rather Antarctic than Arctic, and IIRC the cost for 8 people was in the order of €80k (€10k/person). I don't think that, say, chartering a boat and getting to (for example) Hans Island need cost $100k/person (the expedition never set off because the potential participants — understandably — didn't want to transfer €10k/person to his bank account) – gerrit Sep 3 at 10:16
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    @Gerrit, OP is going to need to buy some pretty heavy duty equipment that would add to the cost. I'm assuming they don't already own 4-season down sleeping bags and the like, for example. – Darren Sep 3 at 13:16
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    Sure - fair. There might be flight routes or shipping Denmark <-> Greenland because of the ties, but no bridges, definitely ;) – nsandersen Sep 12 at 10:53

Buy a ticket to Grise Fjord. That's pretty arcticy. (No plants bigger than mosses, lots of rock.)

enter image description here

Ok more seriously, if you want to go on your own, you need to acquire some skills first.

A: Get good at backpacking.

B: Now start camping above timberline.

c: Now start camping above timberline in winter.

A: Get a canoe. (So much of the arctic is wet, that a canoe is by far the easier way to move around.)

B: Learn to paddle it in rough water.

C: Get good at portaging.

A: Learn to cross country ski.

B: Learn backcountry skiing.

C: Learn to do extended trip at/above tree line in winter.

D: Learn about avalanches.

A: Learn to shoot.

B: Get your hunter-safety course.

C: Go hunting each fall.

D: Learn how to shoot bears.

A few hundred days and nights of outdoor travel split fairly between these topics will put you in the position of not being a serious danger to yourself and others.

In general you will find that high elevations are very similar to arctic conditions, and a lot easier to get to.

Meanwhile, read up on the history and geography of high latitude lands.

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If you wish to visit the Arctic but not organize and expedition yourself, you could consider a visit to Iqualuit, Nunavut. Iqualuit is usually described as being "in the Arctic" though it is not technically inside the Arctic Circle. Lots of Arctic winter activities are available, including snowmobiling, dogsledding, viewing the unique wildlife of the region, igloo building.

You can find similar activities in northern Canadian towns like Dawson, Yellowknife or Inuvik (which is technically inside the Arctic circle).

(Not affiliated with the linked company nor do I reccomend them - they are simply an example)

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