By more, we mean double-down and give in to the allure of the cold—definitely an acquired taste. Whereas, by less, we mean escape to a place where warm sand, turquoise water and delicious ocean breezes wash away all memories of ice, snow and work.
Realizing that no single choice is necessarily best for everyone (and that going to extremes isn’t always the goal), we’ve decided to present three very different vacation destinations. One will literally take you to the frozen edge of the Arctic Circle to interact with the kind of nature that thrives amid ice; another brings you to a restored Colorado ghost-town-turned-luxury-spa, where hot springs and Rocky Mountain heli-skiing will vie for your attention; and the last nestles you in the lap of Caribbean-style luxury, where fun and sun can cure all of your winter doldrums.
Arctic Kingdom’s Icy Adventures
The word “safari” tends to conjure up gorgeous images of wildlife in a natural habitat that involves the rolling grasslands, marshes and jungles of Africa. This is exactly the concept the pioneering folks at Arctic Kingdom want you to experience—albeit with a tundra twist—when you travel with them for a custom-tailored trip to the Arctic regions. As go-to logistical providers of equipment and outfitting services for filmmakers and scientists in the Northwest, Arctic Kingdom is an Iqaluit, Canada-based firm that excels at shepherding small groups of hardy adventurers on weekend or extended trips to camps on land and ice in the Northwest Territories and Greenland. They offer a variety of season-specific excursions with personalized itineraries, such as going to see polar bears and migratory birds, taking hot air balloon rides above Baffin Island, scuba diving under (yes, under) glaciers or taking in the Northern Lights, among others. Not your typical walk-in-the-park stuff.
Depending on the trip, guests may stay in timber lodges with full amenities (including on-site chefs), remote log cabins 100 miles from the nearest town, temporary tents or structures for extreme adventures or partner hotels for shorter, weekend trips. Their Taste of Arctic Spring (offered rom February through May) pairs you with local Inuit guides. You’ll travel on a sled pulled by a team of dogs across the frozen wilderness, ice fish for Arctic char and even, if you’re up for it, help build the igloo you’ll bed down in after viewing the Northern Lights. Similarly, their Taste of Arctic Summer (July through September) plants you on a sea-ice camp near Baffin Island where you’ll witness the soul-shifting migration of thousands of hungry whales that congregate at the icy edge of the bay.
BEST ROOMS Depending on the trip you take, you will stay in a local partner hotel, a timber lodge, a remote log cabin, a tent, or a yurt. The truly intrepid or authentic traveler, however, may prefer to build his or her own lodgings out of the copious amount of ice at hand—you guessed it, an igloo. With help from the pros, you cut blocks of ice and assemble your very own igloo, throw down a few caribou skins, light some candles and slide into the provided sleeping bag. You’ll be about as in-touch with the Arctic as it gets. 888-737-6818, www.arctickingdom.com