Somewhere in the world it is cold. Just the word “cold” turns people off the idea of visiting a place but let’s be honest; we have all seen some amazing snowy photos in our time. People should try to embrace it. Trips are most certainly not all about going to warm places and sitting on a beach- well, not every time. Sometimes, the most beautiful destinations are caked in the white stuff. Some of the coolest photos show a glaze of icicles and huge glaciers.
In this article, Agness and Cez of eTramping travel blog will showcase to you their TOP FIVE places to visit to experience what any others will miss out on; visiting the most beautiful icy cold destinations the human eyes will ever see. They personally love to travel in winter, so you might beware plenty of enthusiasm!
1. Svalbard, Norway
With a name that sounds like it came straight out of a Lord Of The Rings novel, Svalbard is a collection of islands situated north of Norway, tucked in between the Arctic Ocean and the Norwegian Sea. Largely unpopulated across all islands, some have “nature reserve” status and offer so much potential for the more adventurous traveller. The higher mountain tops are permanently under snow and there are plenty of cool glaciers to check out for those who love an upward trek. If you time it right, you may catch a midnight sun (April to August) or a polar night (October to February) in your Svalbard trip. They will certainly add character to your trip!
There are plenty of ways of getting around each of the islands, but the postal service boat trips or Svalbard Cruises are the best ways. Most people there speak English very well, so communication will not be an issue. The best part of these trips can include a possibility of seeing a Polar Bear family finding its way through the craggy mountains. Not only that, there may also be an abundance of other remarkable wildlife in their natural habitat. Be sure to keep an eye out for Puffins, Humpback Whales, Orcas, polar foxes and many more.
One other interesting fact: any human artifacts left lying around from before 1946 must be left alone, as the law states. You may stumble across an old mining entrance, or a random spade on your travels. It is best to not touch them!
2. Harbin, China
Harbin is home to the Ice and Snow Festival, where the most incredible ice sculptures are showcased to those that visit. Popular throughout January, Harbin is the perfect icy getaway for those wanting to numb their New Year Blues. This expedition is becoming more and more popular every year as competition grows from participants around the world. There is no doubt you will wowed by the high quality of these sculptures and their intricate and accurate cuts, not to mention the sizes! It has been known that an Ice Castle was showcased here once, standing at a whopping forty-eight metres high! There are smaller, less hectic shows on Sun Island, although the name doesn’t reflect the temperatures. Be sure to pack strategically, as it can get super cold here during this time of the year.
There is plenty to keep you occupied other than the ice sculptures. Ice-skating and sight-seeing are two very popular things to do, as the architecture here is a mixture of Russian influence and neo-classical streets, which makes for an interesting mixture of styles. Plenty of history to be learned!
3. Barrow, Alaska
This part of the US is unique because it stretches far north of the Arctic Circle. Not only that but it is surprisingly diverse with culture. You will probably hear several languages spoken around you in any given day. Nevertheless, the majority of the population are of Eskimo heritage and the locals have gone to great lengths to preserve their natural way of life. Therefore you will find plenty of points of interest, where you will learn of the evolution and hardships of a very unique group of people. In fact, the more interest you show, the more welcome you will feel. Barrow Beach is a very photogenic area, with the added possibility of sighting some polar bears in their natural habitat. You may even see them in the middle of a seal hunt! It is best to keep a whole day free for this part of the trip, as you will have a chance to relax and take in your surroundings.
Temperatures in Barrow can get frightfully cold (lows of -50 degrees Celsius) but there is plenty of landscape to explore.
4. Patagonia, South America
This is quite simply a matchless part of the world, because of its incredible exploration opportunities. Shared by Chile and Argentina, the western part mixes with the Andes and give you awe-inspiring trek routes and the most beautiful nature experiences you may ever have. The Moreno Glacier is certainly worth a visit due to its vastness and photo opportunities. The eastern stretches of Patagonia have cool views of the Atlantic Ocean. The north collides with dry and humid desert land and Pampas lowlands. It has everything! It is such a huge, desolate area, a playground for trekkers and adventure seekers to enjoy.
What is even more distinctive is the local dialect. Welsh, you may wonder? Yes, one of the larger settlements in these parts are Welsh Argentinian. You will meet the kindest, most humble people on your trip here, people will drop everything to help you along your way.
Patagonia is actually proudly a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will most likely mix with some fantastic wildlife, such as sea lions, dolphins and penguins on the coast, and witness endangered Pumas and other such animals in the mountains.
5. Swiss Alps
You know where this is going- get your skis ready! Aside from the amazing skiing experiences (if skiing takes your fancy- or snowboarding, for that matter), there are plenty of quaint, fairytale-like villages to explore, such as Saas Fee and Wengen.
They offer sweet, alpine views, amazing hot meals, and are great places to base yourself as you explore the local skiing culture. Stay warm with some local Fondue, and mix with families and lone-travellers from all around the world. Make sure you bring a GoPro or something similar, for those winding alpine slopes!
There are also some fantastic mountaineering climbs on offer across the region. Plenty of choices include Matterhorn, Breithorn and Castor. If you enjoy challenging yourself to adventurous treks, you are in for a treat! The views are breath-taking, the glaciers are looming. Further down the mountains you will find wondrous gorges and national parks to gaze upon, so take a spare memory card for your camera!
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