By now you all should know that I’m a sun worshipper. I’d be perfectly happy to chase summer for the rest of my life.

But lately I’ve been lusting after Lapland and the arctic region. They seem so exotic – so extreme. The way I see it: if you’re going to do winter, you might as well go big or go home. In this case, “big” = remote, rugged, wildly scenic, and really freaking cold… i.e. all the qualities that really define this region.

Svalbard, Norway

Photo credit: North Pole Marathon

I don’t share a Wanderlust Wednesday post every week, or even necessarily every month, because you can’t really plan your wanderlust. I love for the inspiration to come organically, ideally learning about an enticing new destination through a casual conversation with someone who’s been there.

On that note, I recently caught wind of a fascinating place called Svalbard: a Norwegian archipelago situated about halfway between Norway and the North Pole. You really need to look at a map to understand just how far north this land is. There’s not much else beyond it before you hit the North Pole! I can hardly wrap my mind around that – or the fact that Oslo, capital of Norway, is closer to Africa than its own archipelago. Or that there are more polar bears than humans on Svalbard.

Polar Bears in Svalbard, Norway

Photo credit:

… But you know, that does make sense. Svalbard’s icy landscape provides an ideal setting for all sorts of arctic creatures to thrive, one that most people likely couldn’t endure year-round.

Unfortunately, Svalbard is not a budget destination. Because of its remoteness, getting there is a bit of an expensive mission. Then once you’ve arrived, getting around and taking advantage of all the wintry outdoor adventures will cost you an arm and a few legs and likely a good amount of frustration, which is why most travelers opt to travel with a group rather than independently.

Still – it might be a travel splurge worth making someday. Where else can you stalk polar bears, cruise the fjords, and feast on reindeer in a Sami tent with the locals?

Svalbard, Norway

Photo credit: National Geographic