Exploring hard-to-reach gems of nature
Our guest nature expert Manuel Lazcano shares some of his top picks for the best places to see nature up close ashore:
The photograph above was taken during an expedition to the Canadian Arctic, which I consider to be the new frontier of adventure travel. We were particularly lucky to encounter this polar bear mother because she had three cubs, whereas normally only see two. It was June and the pack ice was melting; by July, the ice would be gone, leaving nothing but open sea.
Due to cruising restrictions, not many superyachts are able to visit this part of the world, which makes it all the more special as a place to explore on a charter. The good news for charterers is that in the coming years we expect the number of icebreaker superyachts to grow, offering an even better choice of platforms. There is a certain amount of time commitment you need to make for visiting the region, but it is always worth it.
Many people assume that the Arctic regions have relatively little wildlife due to the harsh conditions, but this is far from the case. The flow edge where this polar bear mother was patrolling was a hive of activity; you just had to know where to look.
On that same day that we saw the polar bear hunting for seals to feed her family, we came across pods of beluga whales and narwhales. To watch these near-mythical creatures in their natural habitat – the belugas with their ghost-white colouring and the narwhales with their long tusks – is a privilege experienced by very few.
As the summer brings warmer temperatures, the ice breaks away and polar bears retreat to the land or risk being marooned, facing long swims to reach the shore. The summer season takes the polar bears away from their food source, putting them in grave danger; the longer the warm weather takes hold – and I have seen it getting longer over recent years – the more likely they are to starve. As we saw the polar bear and her cubs head off into the distance, it left me wondering if all three cubs would make it to see the return of the ice.
Cruising in the Northwest Passage is a thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime experience for any charterer. It offers a wonderful opportunity to see remote landscapes, visit historical sites of early explorers and come face to face with rare wildlife. Aside from viewing from the water, consider a superyacht that comes with extra ‘toys’ that multiply the experience; helicopters and submarines are becoming more common on luxury yachts and will offer a whole new perspective during your charter.
Land adventure hotspots for yacht charters
NORTHWEST PASSAGE, CANADIAN ARCTIC
Best time to go: May to August
What makes it special: The Arctic Circle is truly one of the most remote and exciting places one could visit. From the eternal sun of the summer at high latitudes to the National Geographic-worthy wildlife, it is a hugely rewarding place to cruise. The comfort provided by a superyacht charter in this part of the world is unmatched by any other form of transport. To my mind, this is the last word in ultimate adventure with a luxury twist.
Best time to go: December to June
What makes it special: These volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean are so isolated that they are bursting with fascinating animal species, from blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises to frigate birds and marine iguanas. A yacht charter in the Galapagos offers an opportunity for all generations of the family to see a totally unique ecosystem from a comfortable luxury platform with total freedom and peace.
Trekking through lava formations will have you believe you are on another planet or try walking among vast sea lion herds basking in the sun. The Galapagos Islands are also famed for diving opportunities with large aquatic species such as whale sharks and hammerheads.
NORWEGIAN FJORDS, NORWAY
Best time to go: June and July
What makes it special: The Norwegian Fjords might not be the first place you would imagine taking a yacht charter. But they remain a much-loved secret spot for those who prefer to avoid the busier bays of the Mediterranean in favour of something more adventurous. In the colder months, sit on the aft deck with a warm blanket and hot chocolate while watching the ethereal technicolour display of the Northern Lights.
In the summertime, cruise up waterways flanked by 1,700-metre mountain peaks under the midnight sun. The friendly locals of the fishing villages, with their quaint red houses, will welcome you into their remote, rural way of life.
Photo credits and content provided by Manuel Lazcano of diventure.mx