6 Ways to See Polar Bears in the Wild

Polar bears are among the toughest creatures to spot in the wild. Boost your chances with one of these tours and have a great adventure on the way. 

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Photo By: Henry H. Holdsworth

Photo By: Ewen Bell

Photo By: Shelley Fry

Svalbard Adventure Tour

Svalbard is a group of islands off the coast of Norway that peer into the Arctic Circle. It’s a geographically stunning location that’s perfect for wildlife viewing. The number of polar bears on the islands outnumbers the population of humans, so the chances of catching these gentle giants in their natural habitat is pretty good. A special tour with Lindblad Expeditions gets you up close and personal.

Winnipeg Tundra Lodge

From Natural Habitat Adventures, a partner of the World Wildlife Fund, this is an extremely difficult expedition to book due to its popularity, but worth noting regardless. Home base is the Tundra Lodge – a “rolling” hotel situated seasonally in an area on the edge of Canada's Hudson Bay with high concentrations of polar bears. It’s become a popular trip because of how easy and common it is to see wildlife from the hotel. Guests can also enjoy half- or full-day excursions in special “Polar Rovers” that venture farther into the wilderness.  

Alaska Photography Tour

In late summer, polar bears roam the Beaufort Sea shoreline waiting for the water to freeze. It’s a short window of opportunity every year to get incredibly close to these creatures, while capturing some amazing moments. Guests of Natural Habitat Adventures also get a first-hand look at climate change in one of the world’s more extreme environments. It’s a special opportunity only available to six groups of eight adventurers annually.

Exploring Spitsbergen

This particular voyage from Quark Expeditions has a loose itinerary and lets the animals determine the plans. Home base is a 132-person Arctic adventurer vessel that’s been renovated to provide more comfort through the demanding waters of the Svalbard archipelago of Norway, including Spitsbergen. It’s a dynamic combination of luxury and letting Mother Nature decide when and where you’ll see wildlife.

Sailing the Siberian Arctic

One of the less-traveled areas starts at the northeast corner of Russia (a short flight from Nome, Alaska). Enjoy the trek up to Wrangel and Herald Islands, where in late summer, bears are in the midst of denning season and roaming the island with grace and dominance. A swath of wildlife and glacial viewing awaits those who make the journey to this remote part of the world. This journey from Heritage Expeditions has two sailings limited to 50 passengers each. 

Iceland, Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic

Depending on preferred dates and activities, there are a number of options from Expedition Trips covering these three polar destinations. Guests can enjoy relaxing cruises through Baffin Bay or more adventurous journeys through more remote areas of the Northwest Passage. Either way, the opportunities to see wildlife are bountiful and unparalleled. 

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