The highlight for any Arctic explorer is the privilege of witnessing polar bears in their natural habitat. There are an estimated 20,000 of these amazing creatures left on the planet; here, the best places to spot them.
This isolated Inupiat Eskimo village on Alaska’s Barter Island often finds polar bears snacking on the carcasses of whales that its community is permitted to hunt. Seaplanes from Fairbanks notice earth’s largest land carnivores congregating on nearby sand islands along the Beaufort Sea coast.
While uninhabited by humans, this remote island in the Svalbard archipelago (located around 700 miles from the North Pole) is quite hospitable to polar bears. Guests joining our Svalbard: A Polar Bear Quest journey make a Zodiac landing for the chance to spot some hunting for seals hauled out on the ice.
This Manitoba town sits at the heart of Canadian polar bear country. Churchill serves as the base for numerous polar bear expeditions, which set out on custom tundra vehicles designed with mesh floors to enhance viewing of the massive creatures hunting along the shores of Hudson Bay.
Wrangel made the headlines this year when hundreds of polar bears showed up to nosh on a bowhead whale that washed up on shore. This seldom visited, and extremely restricted, nature reserve off northern Siberia is known as the “polar bear maternity ward,” due to its high density of dens.
The third-largest island in the Svalbard archipelago is home to huge reindeer herds which, in turn, supports a healthy population of polar bears. Our journey to Svalbard visits Edgeøya (also known as Edge Island) while exploring the icy island chain.
A 2016 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicated that the polar bear population along the southwest coast of Greenland is stronger than previously thought. The study estimated there were more than 2,800 bears moving around this body of water between the mainland and Baffin Island.