June 20, 2016
The Arctic remains one of the earth’s last frontiers. Home to extreme conditions, beautiful landscapes, stunning wildlife – and some of the hardiest, most remote communities on the planet. Now, thanks to a handful of intrepid and small expedition ships, you too can explore and experience this extreme living space and have the opportunity not only to see wildlife, but to meet local Inuit peoples of the Arctic.
Indigenous Arctic peoples share Central Asian roots and spread out over the Arctic thousands of years ago, forming a number of distinct groups. The Inuit people (Eskimo) are the most famous and the most widespread arctic people, ranging from northeastern Greenland to the Siberian coast of the Bering Sea. In far northern America you will find Aleuts, Athapaskans, and the coastal Tlingit. Peoples of northern Scandinavia and Russian Far East include the Sami, Even, Koryak, and Chukchi.
All these indigenous peoples have adapted to and thrive in a harsh climate, depending on hunting and herding. To survive the extreme cold is helped by their high-fat and protein diet of mostly meat and fish. Along the coast, people largely fish and hunt seals. Inland peoples hunt wild animals and breed reindeer. Despite isolation, the different Arctic communities have long communicated and traded amongst each other, passing on myths, ideas and tools and therefore can be said to share a broad common culture.
A common theme shared by all communities is the threat to traditional cultures due to big changes brought in from the rest of the world. Mining and exploitation of oil, and mineral resources, pollution and global warming, plus the various attractions of modern ways of live all make it hard to keep up traditional ways of life, and communities have tried to balance the competing pressures with varying degrees of success.
Experience the culture and beauty of Inuit communities
Following are some expeditions into the heart of the Arctic which allow you to experience a little of the culture and beauty of the Inuit communities:
Ittoqqortoormiit in Greenland, its most northerly community on its eastern edge has just 450 inhabitants and a rich and unique Inuit culture. You can reach here on a number of expeditions, such as the Extreme Greenland cruise, Greenland’s Northern Lights expedition, or the Jewels of the Arctic expedition, Scoresbysund, Aurora borealis voyage, or this East Greenland cruise with the Sea Spirit.
On the western side of Greenland, in the Canadian Arctic, the Baffin Island and Western Greenland expedition visits the Inuit community at Pangnirtung, Canada, which is well known for its traditional arts and crafts. Other wonderful Arctic expeditions in North America include the Northwest Passage expedition, and this voyage in the wake of Franklin on the Akademik Sergey Vavilov.
The journey there is just as wonderful
Experiencing the Inuit culture will give you a real escape from modern and urban world. But the journey to, and beyond, these locations is awesome. Sail through iceberg alleys, cruise amongst glaciers, hike in fjord landscapes and cruise in zodiacs looking for polar bears.
Witnessing these hardy Inuit communities, their resourcefulness and their ability to work with both nature and the modern world is both an adventure and a lesson to many.
For more information on expedition cruises to some of the most wonderful travel destinations on the planet, visit the Expeditions Online website.