Flightseeing The Arctic In a Helicopter Tour

April 23, 2021 Doug O'Neill

Few travelers have been able to watch this 41-second video clip and not immediately start dreaming of flightseeing in the Arctic. At Quark Expeditions, we’ve long talked about the deep emotions experienced by first-time Arctic visitors when they cast their eyes on a perfectly sculpted glacier for the first time, or capture through the lens of a camera or set of binoculars an expansive tundra inhabited by polar bears, muskoxen and other Arctic wildlife. 
 
Usually, those dazzling perspectives of the Arctic are experienced from the deck of a polar vessel, the seat of a Zodiac or while walking on land or ice-and-snow-covered terrain during a guided shore landing. But to witness the staggering beauty of the Arctic from above—peering through the window of an H145 twin-engine helicopter—will surpass anything your vivid imagination could conjure up.
 aerial photograph taken during a helicopter tour over South Greenland.

Flightseeing in Arctic Greenland rewards travelers with breath-taking views, as shown in this aerial photograph taken during a helicopter
tour over South Greenland. Photo: Mads Pihl/Visit Greenland

And it’s an easily attainable dream. Flightseeing during an helicopter tour is automatically included for Quark Expeditions’ guests who book a voyage to Greenland, the Canadian High Arctic and other Arctic destinations on our brand new ship, Ultramarine

Those two simple words, “helicopter Arctic,” don’t really capture the  beauty of the Arctic experienced while flightseeing: ice-laden water ways stretching as far as the eye can see, snow-capped mountains whose peaks disappear into the clouds, fjords that are so long that it would take days in a Zodiac to travel from one end to another—but not on a twin-engine helicopter. 
 
Flightseeing is just one of the helicopter-supported adventure options available when travelling aboard the technologically-advanced ship Ultramarine. There’s heli-hiking, heli-landing, heli mountain biking and alpine kayaking, to name a few. Yes, our two twin-engine helicopters transport guests and kayaks high into the upper alpine zones of South Greenland where they can kayak in waters seldom touched by humankind.  Also possible in the Arctic: the helicopter-supported Greenland Ice Sheet experience, as well as overnight camping along the 70-km long Tasermiut fjord.  Check out this webinar featuring Quark Expeditions’ Alex McNeil and Salik Frederiksen, co-owner of Tasermiut Camp, which is situated along the rugged Tasermiut Fjord in South Greenland.

Flightseeing, Helicopter Tours and Immersive Arctic Experiences 

eli-Landing excursion on the mammoth Greenland Ice Sheet.

Guests traveling on Quark Expeditions ' Greenland Adventure: Explore by Sea, Land and Air voyage enjoy
an Exclusive Heli-Landing excursion on the mammoth Greenland Ice Sheet. Photo: Hugo Perrin

Helicopters are the defining element of our Greenland Adventure: Explore by Sea, Land and Air, which is designed to immerse travelers in the stark majestic landscape of South Greenland, where one of nature’s most stunning gems awaits: The Greenland Ice Sheet, the second largest ice mass in the world. The helicopter transport from the ship to the Ice Sheet in itself is an incredible flightseeing opportunity—especially as the helicopter descends onto the Greenland Ice Sheet, an adventure only a select few travelers have experienced.

Helicopter-supported mountain biking and overnight camping 

Our colleague Ben Haggar, a polar guide and longtime mountain biker, passionately describes how helicopters enabled him to hit the dirt on two wheels—after helicopter flightseeing—in the mountains of South Greenland
 
Ben brilliantly captures in words and images what it was like to mountain bike—after an incredible helicopter tour that transplanted him from the heli-port on Ultramarine to the mountain biking location in South Greenland. He evocatively describes what it was like mountain-biking through the unfamiliar landscape of glacier-polished rock slabs and rolling tundra covered in willow and dwarf birch with imposing mountain peaks in the background.  

The ideal helicopters for flightseeing in the Arctic

Quark Expeditions' guests fly on twin-engine helicopters designed for comfort and safety.

Quark Expeditions' guests fly on twin-engine helicopters designed for comfort and safety. Photo: Hugo Perrin

The twin-engine helicopters Quark Expeditions is deploying for flightseeing and helicopter tours in the Arctic are among the quietest of their class—their noise-reduction features helping to minimize any impact on local wildlife. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill ex-military planes used by other companies which transport passengers who are squeezed cheek-by-jowl onto a bench. The H145 helicopters are designed for comfort and safety. In fact, seven out of eight passengers get their own window seat. Another bonus feature much-loved by photographers: the windows are designed to enable passengers to take great photographers—no tiny windows to limit one’s picture-perfect memories of their Arctic helicopter tour.

Flightseeing at the North Pole

Helicopter tours on Ultramarine’s two twin-engine helicopters aren’t the only way travelers can experience flightseeing in the Arctic. Quark Expeditions’ guests who book journeys to the North Pole on the iconic vessel 50 Years of Victory book get to enjoy flightseeing aboard one of the world’s largest, most powerful nuclear ice-breakers. This powerful ship (75,000 horsepower generated by nuclear reactors) is capable of breaking through ice up to 2.5 meters (9.2 feet) thick. And it’s equipped with a helicopter for shore excursions and flight-seeing. 
 

The Best Helicopter Flightseeing in the Arctic

Few views can rive those enjoyed while flight seeing the Arctic in a helicopter tour. Photo:

Few views can rive those enjoyed while flight seeing the Arctic in a helicopter tour. Photo: Hugo Perrin

So, you’re dreaming of your Arctic adventure and scribbling down the must-haves for your bucket-list adventure. Perhaps yours looks something like this:
 
• Polar bears
• Flightseeing
• Helicopter Arctic
• A nice sauna (or other spa treatment)
• Helicopter kayaking
• Heli-hiking
 
…and the list goes on. Reviewing your bucket list criteria could prompt you to add “safe” and “environmentally-friendly.”  Rest assured, Quark Expeditions’ twin-engine helicopters are designed for safety and are equipped with the most advanced back-up systems. And they’ve been chosen because of their minimal footprint. No helicopter flightseeing outing would negatively impact the well-being of wildlife.  After all, one of our goals as polar travelers is to become polar ambassadors—forever committed to protecting and conserving these pristine Polar Regions for generations to come

 

About the Author

Doug O'Neill

A love of nature and writing has enabled Doug O'Neill to visit almost 50 countries around the world—and to immerse himself in some of the most incredible nature settings. Doug's role as Brand Copywriter at Quark Expeditions has been a natural step on a journey that started with a degree in Environmental Studies and later a Certificate in Journalism. When not travelling, Doug is usually hiking: he's a certified hike leader with Hike Ontario and the Bruce Trail Conservancy. He's the co-author of a nature book, “110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan,” published by Firefly Books in 2019. Says Doug: "Few destinations rival the Polar Regions—not just for the staggering beauty and incredible wildlife, but for the transformative experiences that occur the moment you set foot in the most remote parts of the world."

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