The North Pole – Does Santa Really Live There?

 

Christmas postcard, 1911

Image via Wikipedia

There is no single definition of the “North Pole.” The geographic North Pole is marked by the northern end of the Earth’s axis of rotation and is covered by an Arctic ice sheet. The magnetic North Pole is located at the northern end of the Earth’s geomagnetic field. And unquestionably, any youngster will tell you that the North Pole is where Santa Claus lives. If your sleigh is in the shop, or you just can’t afford the down payment, here are some other ways to get close to Santa’s workshop any time of year.

Arctic Cruises

Many companies out there offer cruises to the high Arctic. The ice is easier to navigate during the summer, and Santa’s workshop may be closed for the season, but you will get to experience nature like never before. You will glide through mountains of ice and see whales, seabirds, and polar bears as you travel northward. Since you’ll be in the land of the midnight sun, you will cruise day and night, and you won’t miss a thing.

Polar Bear Special

Polar Bear

Image via Wikipedia

The Svalbard archipelago, the northernmost part of Norway, is a prime spot to get a glimpse of a polar bear. Only one island in the archipelago is permanently populated, and it used to be a whaling base, and its capital, Longyearbyen, was a historic mining town. In Raudfjord, you will find ringed and bearded seals among the turquoise fjords, and the sea cliffs support surprisingly lush vegetation.

Svalbard reindeer (R.tarandus platyrhynchus)

Svalbard reindeer

Liefdefjorden is home to the face of the Monaco Glacier, where polar bears tend to congregate. Kittiwakes, a type of seabird, also tend to gather here to feed. It’s an amazing spectacle of wildlife in an area that appears inhospitable to life. However, the area is surprisingly rich in flora and fauna.

Høyvika Beach on Andøya

A Land of Plenty

Andøya, in the archipelago of Vesterålen, is a tundra known for its peat production and cloudberries, delicious, raspberry-like berries. The Andøya Rocket Range is a rocket launch site where Norway’s first student satellites were built. Andøya is also home to an observatory that performs critical research about the atmosphere of the Arctic.

The Top of the World

North of the Siberian coastline is Wrangel Island. The nature reserve on Wrangel Island is home to a multitude of Polar Bears, walrus, and snow geese. There are more than 400 species of vegetation on the island, a remnant of prehistoric times, when the area teemed with an intricate ecosystem, including wooly mammoths and giant deer. There is even some evidence of human life on the island dating back to 1200 B.C. If you cruise to Wrangel Island, you’ll likely catch sight of some whales along the way.

2008 Alaska Cruise 078

Dawes Glacier from Cruise Ship

A Land of Splendor

If you would rather see Alaska, you can cruise through the complex series of narrow channels that bring you closer to nature. You can experience majestic waterfalls, catch a glimpse of bears as you hike through coastal rain forests, and be amazed by the blue ice of the glaciers. Eat seafood, watch the sea lions, and go to sleep against a backdrop of water and mountains or stay awake for the aurora borealis.

If you travel to the northern side of the world, you’ll leave with a magical feeling, even if you didn’t get to see Santa Claus. It’s a land of contradiction and enchantment, a fairy-tale setting of sparkling ice and captivating wildlife. In a place where the sun never sets and the sky lights up with vibrant colors that reflect over the glaciers and the sea, both children and adults can experience a type of magic equivalent to the jingling of bells and Christmas presents.

Travel blogger Rita Hathaway is usually on the road during the holidays, so she loves the easy choices of buying her decorations, garlands and wreaths online at http://www.santasquarters.com. Rita usually opts for an artificial Christmas tree for ease and low maintenance because the holidays can otherwise be so hectic.

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