Unexpected Visitors at the North Pole

Unexpected Visitors at the North Pole

Alex Burridge – Managing Director – Arctic Travel Centre


The North Pole is at least 700km from land (Kaffeklubben Island, off the northern coast of Greenland) and over 900km from the nearest point of the archipelago of Franz Josef Land. It’s a place that only a few hundred fortunate travellers reach every year during the brief Northern hemisphere summer. Sea ice stretches for hundreds of kilometres in every direction, even at the end of summer, when the area covered by sea-ice is at its minimum.

50 Degrees North Icebreaking

After two or three days of travelling through mesmerising sea-ice scapes, the 50 Years of Victory finally signals to everyone that the goal of reaching the top of the world has been accomplished. The next day is planned to enjoy a range of activities to celebrate this amazing accomplishment.

50 Years of Victory at the North Pole

50 Years of Victory at the North Pole

A BBQ, a game of Frisbee, some hikes and even a swim at 90 degrees (in water that is over 4,000 metres deep) are all on the agenda. You’d think that in such a remote, isolated, and difficult to access, place, so far from land, that you’d have the joint to yourself.. Think again, on July the 19th 2019 the guests from the 50 Years of Victory were interrupted by some very welcome visitors – a female polar bear and her two cubs.

Activities North Pole
BBQ at North Pole, Poseidon

Who knows what attracted the female, it very well could have been the smells emanating from the BBQ. It is believed that they can detect a seal from over 30 kilometres away. Upon first site of the bears (from a safe distance) the expedition team began packing up their activities on the ice. All that was left was a flag, which was later retrieved. As you can imagine, the guests were very happy to be disturbed; after all they were in the bear’s home.

Poseidon Only - Polar Bear and Cubs North Pole
Poseidon Only - Polar Bear Cubs

Here are a few pictures of the mum and her cubs who walked, sniffed, jumped and basically ignored the presence of the 23,000 tonne invader.

Poseidon Only - Bear at North Pole
Poseidon Only - Polar Bear with Flag
Poseidon Only - North Pole Polar Bear
Poseidon Only - Polar Bear Cubs North Pole
Poseidon Only - North Pole Polar Bear

I was fortunate enough to travel with Poseidon Expedition on-board the 50 Years of Victory in July 2018. Whilst I didn’t see a bear at the pole, we saw several on the way back to Franz Josef Land (about 700km from land). It is not a frequent occurrence to see polar bears at the North Pole. According to the Russian National Park guides who accompanied the voyage I was on, they had been spotted in the region 9 years earlier, so it may even be a once in a decade occurrence. I am sure it occurs more often, just that there’s no one there to witness the event.

For 355+ days of the year the North Pole keeps its secrets.

Poseidon Only - Polar Bear Footprints

Read more about my North Pole experience in 2018:


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