Jun 20, 2012 10:21:54 AM
The coldest places on earth
If you laugh in the face of tropical getaways and think there’s nothing more fun that pulling on that third sweater, we may have the holiday destinations for you.
Many visitors to Greenland make a beeline for the iceberg-studded Disko Bay, and more specifically to Ilulissat, the centre of the country’s tourist industry. The town is home to star attraction Ilulissat Kangerlua (Jakobshavn Icefjord), the northern hemisphere’s most prolific tidewater glacier. The massive ice-choked expanse it creates disgorges gargantuan icebergs – some weighing up to seven million tonnes – into Disko Bay, a truly stunning sight.
Canada’s Dempster Highway
Starting from Dawson, the last remnant of the Yukon gold rush, the Dempster winds its way through pristine wilderness flanked by craggy peaks and rolling tundra before arriving at the Arctic hub of Inuvik, gateway to the remote communities of the Western Arctic. One of the most incredible road trips on earth, the Dempster Hwy is one of only two roads in North America that cross the Arctic Circle. It’s a road deep in history, with stunning scenery and myriad chances to see wildlife. You may catch sight of moose, and wolves as well as peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and Arctic terns, all without leaving the road.
Talk about bizarre: Yakutsk, the world’s coldest city stands on stilts (the shifting permafrost collapses buildings otherwise) and is pretty much cut off from the already remote Far East. A dodgy road to the BAM line (a branch of the Trans-Siberian Express) takes a ferry ride and 24 hours, while airfares can be extremely expensive! Yet, unlike so many remote Russian cities out here, Yakutsk roars with optimism and gusto.
Often described as the world’s coldest capital, Ulaanbaatar is an enormous city of pulsating commerce, heavy traffic, sinful nightlife and bohemian counter-culture. As Mongolia’s cultural, political, economic and social hub it is the logical base for excursions into the countryside. First however, take the time to explore its excellent sights and museums, fill up at some great restaurants and soak in the eclectic vibe. But wrap up warm; nostril freezing temperatures are the norm from December to February.
Antarctica: The South Pole
The average temperature on Antarctica’s polar plateau is -49.4°C or -56.0°F but wind chills can send mercury plummeting to -110°C. It is possible to visit the South Pole, usually by flight from mainland South America. You’ll probably visit the Ceremonial Pole and the Geographic Pole to take your ‘hero pictures.’ You can also expect to be invited inside the US scientific research station for a visit to the dining room and possibly a quick look around. The station shop sells souvenirs, and you can have letters or postcards stamped with the station’s postmark.
Chill out with Lonely Planet’s latest guide to Antarctica