Transformative Travel Experiences: Travel trends |

Why Antarctica & the Arctic are the Ultimate Transformative Travel Experiences

A new travel era is dawning – discover why the Polar Regions offer the most unfiltered transformative experiences of all.

Craving unforgettable rather than superficial moments, seekers of transformative travel experiences are turning to the Polar Regions to deliver on the goods. In this modern era of conscientious, responsible and sustainable travel, discerning travellers are saying no to 5-star luxury resort stays and a most resounding YES to meaningful journeys in remote and unspoiled destinations.

Expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic turn a mere vacation into a startling, once-in-a-lifetime experience and, even those who roll their eyes at the new-age ‘transformative travel’ have to admit that in-depth travels with a significant purpose far outweighs the sheer ticking of lists.

Transformative travel means busting out of your comfort zone so you can grow, learn and engage with the world outside your existence-bubble. This kind of experiential travel is now recognised as an organic and effective way to bring about personal change. To be transformed.

Here’s why Antarctica and the Arctic make for the best transformative travel experiences:

1. The Polar Regions bring you face to face with climate change – you will crave change

US journalist Diane Daniel, writing for the Washington Post, admits to not having been driven to real-life change until she embarked on an Antarctic expedition. This is something we (and a wealth of scientists) have been protesting for aeons: responsible tourism to Antarctica and the Arctic has the potential to turn tourists into eco-warriors because it brings them face-to-face with the effects of climate change on the most pivotal regions of our planet. The sheer amount of learning and personal growth of such unique expeditions can affect people, in the deepest sense. Polar tours highlight the urgency of climate change and give concrete solutions to everyday issues, not just on a personal level but community-wide, as well.

Neko Harbour, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Nature is overwhelming – it can make you take stock of your role in the world

If there’s one experience that can transform the way you see the world, and your place in it, it would have to be experiencing the overwhelming awe of grandiose wilderness. If you’ve ever stood at the base of a 6,000+m mountain, you will understand what we mean. If you’ve ever been to Antarctica and the Arctic, you will feel what we mean.

Sky-reaching glaciers, walls of ice, icebergs of every shade of blue and expanses of ice-sloe dotted, sapphire-hued oceans that stretch as far as the eye can see. These are the things that can make you feel vulnerable, insignificant and totally awe-struck.

Somehow, visiting places that are out of this world can help bring you back down to earth.

3. Visiting Antarctica and the Arctic feels like an honour and a privilege – a unique life experience

Yes, we are privileged to have the freedoms and funds to travel to the ends of the world. But it’s more than mere financials. The world may well be full of ‘expensive’ travel destinations, yet there isn’t a single other place that can make you feel the kind of profound gratitude so many people feel when they visit the Polar Regions. Undoubtedly the most distinctive places on earth and what makes them unique is that humans have never been able to (fully) lay hands on them.

These lands belong to penguins and polar bears, to millions of birds; to seals, sea lions and whales and narwhals. Standing on the ice and looking out into a world you feel both detached from, and at one with, makes you feel thankful. Thankful to have just been given a look. The jaw-dropping wildlife encounters and landscape feasting are the reasons so many travellers claim that Polar expeditions are life-changing experiences.

A polar bear on the Svalbard Archipelago, Norway. Photo: Shutterstock

4. You do all the hard work – meeting wildlife on foot and on Zodiacs tests your resolve

Antarctica and the Arctic aren’t environments for the faint of heart and certainly not ‘kitschy tourist attractions’ that serve up experiences on silver platters. Here, you have to work for them. This means dealing with sub-freezing temps, tumultuous seas, harsh landscapes, crazy and unexpected weather changes and the simple knowledge that you are thousands upon thousands of kilometres away from civilization. Experiencing the latter alone is enough to change a person.

This inherent ‘immersive’ experience is what makes is so very rewarding, what makes people beam from ear to ear at the end of the day and feel as if they’ve just spent a whole day ‘at one’ with the wildest nature on the planet. It doesn’t matter how lush your vessel is – you still have to get off it to experience the Polar regions. No filters. No comforts. No luxury. Just pure and unadulterated Mother Nature.

Walking with Gentoo penguins in Antarctica.

5. You bear witness to natural phenomena and feel compelled to protect it

Extreme natural phenomena in the Polar Regions is there to remind us that that, as evolved as we may be on this planet, we can’t control everything. Nature does. From the Northern Lights of the Arctic to the Midnight Sun of Antarctica, the calving of icebergs, the migrating of whales and the life-and-death-cycle of a gazillion creatures of all sizes, from the smallest (krill) to the largest (blue whale), everything thrives and happens in a beautiful, balanced world. Bearing witness to all that is an indescribable feeling – as is the immense feeling to protect it at all costs.

The Northern Lights from a cruise ship in the Arctic. Photo: Shutterstock

6. Immersive & unplugged = the key to taking a soul-searching time-out

Personal growth and transformation can only really happen when you allow yourself the freedom to step back from your life and disconnect, for just a while, from everything. Antarctica and the Arctic are perhaps the most epic unplugged destinations on earth. Here, it’s not a case of taking a day trip into nature and coming back into civilization in the evening; of being able to jump back and forth between the new world and the old world of exploratory journeys. This is an all-in-one deal. Out here, you have no choice but to contemplate, learn, witness and feel. And that is perhaps most priceless aspect of it all.

At Chimu Adventures, we believe that all travel has the potential to be transformative although, in this age of instant-accessibility, mass-tourism and overcrowded highlights, finding the exceptional, the remote and the unplugged is harder than it used to be. Our latest initiative aims to highlight the most meaningful, responsible and sustainable travel experiences for 2020. Every single experience is unique and worthy in its own right yet what they all have in common is an extensive array of environmental and social initiatives that help us, help you, make better travel choices so you can reap the most out of the journey.

Travel together. Do good together. Be better, together. That’s our 2020 Vision.

Discover Your 2020 Vision

See our extensive collection of experiences in Antarctica and the Arctic and contact us to know more.

Author: Laura Pattara

“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”


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