Wild Scandinavia: Polar Bear facts

The polar bear is the king of the Arctic, known for its white fur and jet black nose. We run cruises up into the Arctic Circle where you can spot these majestic beasts – but before you go, here are a few interesting facts!

1. The longest recorded swim without stopping a polar bear has ever made is 685km over nine days straight! During the swim, the female bear lost 22 percent of her body weight. They have large paws that are ideal for paddling and their body fat helps them to stay afloat and acts as insulation in the freezing waters.

2. The Latin name for polar bears is ‘ursus maritimus‘ which means maritime bear. In Inuit mythology, the polar bear is called Pihoqahiak, the “ever-wandering one”.

3. Translations of the Arctic names for polar bear are quite varied but all impressive, including Lord of the Arctic and Old Man in the Fur Cloak.

EXPED_CircumnavRealmPolarBear_600x4504. Female polar bears usually give birth to two cubs, although it can be up to four. The cubs stay with her for more than two years until they can hunt and survive on their own. Females receive no help from their solitary male mates.

5. The average adult female weighs about 260 kilograms. When pregnant, they can be as heavy as almost 500 kilograms. They are usually 1.8 to 2 metres in length. A fully grown male weighs around 450 kilograms and are about 2.5 metres tall.

6. The average lifespan of a bear in the wild is 15 to 30 years. The world’s oldest ever polar bear in captivity, Debby, lived for 43 years and ten months.

7. Polar bears are extremely threatened by global warming and climate change with their icy habitat literally melting beneath their paws. Studies have predicted that the bears will need to swim longer distances in the future due to the shrinking ice caps.

8. Seals make up most of a polar bear’s diet.

9. They are the world’s largest land predator and biggest member of the bear family.

10. Their blubber gets up to 10 centimetres thick. Under their fur polar bears have black skin to better soak in the sun’s warmth. Fur even grows on the bottom of their claws to protect them against cold surfaces and for traction when walking across slippery ice.

11. The fur of a polar bear is not actually white but is transparent, lacking in pigment completely. It appears white because of light being refracted from the clear strands.

EXPED_RealmOfThePolarBear_600x45012. Although most polar bears are born on land, they spend the vast majority of their time at sea. Without sea ice, polar bears could not survive. Two of the Arctic’s most important habitats for them are the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

13. Polar bears are the only type of bear considered a marine animal.

14. While polar bears look fluffy and cuddly, they are predators that rarely fear humans, which makes them dangerous. In Svalbard, you are required to carry a firearm for protection when leaving any settlements.

15. These arctic kings have no natural enemies or predators, although they have been hunted by the Arctic’s indigenous people for centuries.

Christmas Wonderland

The North Pole may not be as easy to get to as some Hollywood films portray but you can get to the next best thing this Christmas – Rovaniemi, Finland. Known as the home of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is high in the Arctic Circle, and although beautiful at any time of year, it really comes into its own at Christmas time.

We offer a unique Christmas experience for those dreaming of a winter wonderland this festive season – but hurry the last rooms are filling fast.

Christmas in Lapland

Over five days, experience the holiday of a lifetime with the perfect family Christmas experience. Whether you are someone who counts down the minutes until Christmas or someone for whom it usually passes you by, you cannot help but be swept up in the romance of a winter wonderland in Rovaniemi, Finland at Santa’s Village. Tailored to suit the young, old and everyone in between, this unforgettable journey will take you up beyond the Arctic Circle in under the magical aurora borealis or northern lights.

December 23rd guests will be welcomed with open arms by your Christmas hosts to beautiful Rovaniemi, surrounded by snow laden forest and beautiful alpine villas. Perhaps enjoy a moolight snowmobile safari for your first night in this incredible part of the world, or stay tucked up and cosy inside, watching the snow drift to the ground outside. Christmas Eve sees a day full of thrilling snow activities in the Snowfun park from a forest tour by four-wheeled scooter, kicksledding or skiing. For the more adventurous among us, there is ice-hockey, ice-fishing and ice golf, while for those who prefer a more relaxing experience, the open fire beckons in a traditional Sami style tent. After a day laden with activities, guests will be served a delicious Christmas feast – and don’t be surprised if Santa pops in to say hello!

Christmas Day and Boxing Day more exploration awaits, peppered with relaxation in cosy surrounds. Travel deeper into the majestic Finnish forest; decorate a tree with Santa’s Helpers; gain your International Reindeer’s Licence; and explore the Arkitikum, an internationally renowned museum and science centre. December 27th marks the end of you amazing experience among the forest in Santa’s Homeland.

The last rooms are quickly running out for 2017 – book in your Christmas adventure with Bentours now!

 

Reasons to visit Greenland in 2017

Greenland: remote, wild and rugged.

For many years, travel in this country has only really been possible for the more adventurous traveller, willing to hitch a ride aboard a freight ship from Iceland. However in recent years, Greenland has opened its arms wide to tourism and now offers some of the most unique experiences of the Arctic and sub-Arctic to those thirsting for somewhere new to explore.

2017 is the year that Greenland comes into its own. With the growing tourism industry, there are enough resources available for you to see the country in comfort without the hordes of tourists. If you are a nature lover, Greenland is the place for you to visit and with Hurtigruten running expedition voyages up the Greenlandic coast in 2017, there is no better way to experience this incredible country of ice.

Trek…

… around the edges of the prehistoric ice sheet that dominates the interior of Greenland – in fact over 80% of the country. Ice sheet is perhaps misleading: there are many ice mountains, frozen freshwater formations and fauna. This ice sheet represents 10% of the world’s fresh water supplies and is 14 times the size of the UK.

Why 2017? A Nature Climate Change study has shown that the Northeast Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at a rate of 10 billion tons of water per year since 2003 and shows no signs of letting up.

See…

… the Ilulissat Icefjord, incredible and probably the most famous natural site of Greenland. Sermeq Kujalleq is the largest glacier outside of Antarctica and the whole area has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage.

Why 2017? As the popularity of Greenland grows, in 2017 you can see the glacier in many different ways – by boat, helicopter or even on foot, hiking around the edge of the glacier with experienced guides.

Relax…

… in one of the hundreds of hot springs scattered around Greenland. On the islands of Uunartoq and Disko there are many natural springs to choose from, ranging in temperature from 38 to 60 degrees celsius!

Why 2017? Many natural springs around the world have turned into luxury resort locations, which are lovely in their own right but a totally different experience. You’ll find none of that in Greenland yet, so come and enjoy pure, unadulterated nature at its finest.

Capture…

… the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on camera, visible from Greenland as they are from other Arctic countries. The green and red streaks will appear dancing across the sky between September and the beginning of April. A common tale in Greenlandic mythology is that the lights appear when the dead are playing football with a walrus skull across the sky!

Why 2017? Greenland has very little light pollution due to its sparse population and from a Hurtigruten ship, the Northern Lights can be seen with the greatest clarity. Plus due to the predicted solar cycle, 2017 is perhaps the best time to see the Northern Lights for the next decade.

Spot…

… polar bears! From January to April take a sled shore excursion to see polar bears where they hunt off the North and Eastern coasts of Greenland. You can also see reindeer, musk oxen, eagles, ptarmigan, lemmings and perhaps even the rare arctic wolf. From Ittoqqotoormiit in Northeast Greenland, you can access the remote but abundant interior national park with safaris to see both polar bears and walruses.

Why 2017? With the melting ice sheets, polar bears’ natural environment is being threatened more and more as the years pass. Plus the emerging tourism industry means that tour groups are smaller and more personal, so you can get right up close (but safe) to these incredible predators.

Watch…

… whales. Marine life in Greenland is abundant, so is it any wonder that the land has been inhabited for 4, 500 years!? See the gentle giants of the ocean with some summer whale watching. From Narsaq Minke whales can be spotted, while in the Nuuk fjord sometimes the huge humpback whales will appear.

Why 2017? Because why not?! Surely we have already given you enough reasons to visit this incredible part of the world this year!


Discover Greenland and all the natural wonders it has to offer in 2017 aboard a Hurtigruten voyage. Contact Bentours today to organise the Arctic trip of a lifetime!

Svalbard SolFest Week

March 8th marked the beginning of Sol Fest week in Svalbard – a celebration of the return of sunlight to the archipelago! Locals gather at the old hospital’s stairs in Longyearbyen to watch the ‘solas return’, or return of the sun. When the sun’s rays light up these stairs, the sun is declared to have returned for the year.

The celebrations span from 3 to 12 March and the whole of the community gets involved, inviting visitors along to their events too. Events include a tour of the North Norwegian Art Museum with a historical collections from 1800s to today and painting in the snow with food colouring for primary and kindergarten children as the new sunlight basks the land. There are many musical and cultural events on offer, from rock to blues bands and even a Neon party replete with glowsticks & glow in the dark paint and salsa classes.

If you are lucky enough to be in Svalbard, check out this link (translated from Norwegian) for a list of events.