While there are few white water rafting opportunities open to tourists in the Polar Regions, visitors can enjoy hours of kayaking among regional wildlife and dramatic icebergs. Kayaking around the North Pole is not popular, with most visitors arriving on the ice cap by air or ice-breaker and then continuing on to the geographical North Pole on foot.
There are however kayaking opportunities in the surrounding Arctic Sea as well as canoe trips along some of Canada’s northern rivers and the rivers of Alaska in the US. These little explored waterways may not have the grade five rapids of other regions, but they do provide spectacular wildlife viewing.
Antarctica: Kayaking excursions to Antarctica take in the region’s impressive array of wildlife, including penguins, whales and seals, with the quiet nature of kayaking being conductive to wildlife-spotting. The scenery experienced on these trips is jaw-dropping, from huge ice cliffs and gigantic icebergs to scenic fjords and snow-covered mountains. Kayakers should expect challenging conditions, however.
Arctic Sea: One of the best ways to enjoy the seals, polar bears and whales that inhabit the Arctic Sea is to tour parts of the region by kayak. Kayakers can start their journey in Kugaaruk, Nunavut, Canada and follow Inuit guides into the ocean to experience the Arctic’s natural beauty. It is also possible to go kayaking in the Russian Arctic (White Sea) on an organized adventure, with trips typically stopping at Kiy Island.
Alatna River – Alaska, United States: Popular among rafters who enjoy a lazy float, the Alatna River in Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park has been labeled by some as the most beautiful river in the United States. While the river doesn’t offer rapids, it is perfect for week-long float trips.
Greenland: Kayaking here requires a high level of skill and is unsuited to beginners. Those who are well prepared can enjoy almost untouched Arctic landscapes with a buddy or on an organized trip, with many travel agencies in the larger towns offering packages. The kayak was in fact an Inuit invention, making kayaking here appropriate.
Thelon River – Nunavut, Canada: This little explored river is inaccessible by road, yet enthusiastic canoeists still manage to find their way here each summer to take in the amazing wildlife viewing and fishing.