Summary : Svalbard is one of the last major wilderness areas with pristine mountains, fauna, deep fjords, picturesque icebergs, and massive ice sheets. Explore Svalbard’s breathtaking landscape on this round-trip voyage from Longyearbyen, Norway. Along the journey, discover Svalbard from aboard a luxury expedition ship and on Zodiac cruises while in the company of naturalist experts. Trek along the tundra and visit long-defunct whaling operations; search for seabirds, bearded and ringed seals, walrus, beluga whale and the king of the Arctic – the mighty polar bear!
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$7,150 to $17,650
Departing from Oslo, take a charter flight to Longyearbyen. Embark the vessel, meet Expedition Team members and attend a Zodiac briefing. Familiarize yourself with the luxury vessel and meet fellow travelers.
Svalbard is one of the last major European wilderness areas with pristine mountains, fauna, deep fjords, picturesque icebergs, and massive ice sheets. Locate wildlife and hike the tundra. Travel along the same routes as famous polar explorers such as Andrée, Nordenskiöld, Amundsen and Nobile. Spot indigenous reindeer, trek along beaches where groups of walrus are hauled-out along the shoreline, and maybe even spot the Arctic fox or bearded seal. Seabirds such as Ivory gulls, auks and puffins are plentiful and perhaps encounter a Minke or Beluga whale.
The flexible itinerary maximizes opportunities to take advantage of favorable ice and weather conditions. Search for walruses, seals, reindeer, Arctic foxes and polar bears. Enjoy shore walks and Zodiac landings in mystical settings while watching icebergs pass. In the true spirit of adventure cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine the best course depending on changing weather, ice conditions and the wildlife encountered. The following is a list of potential destinations:
This is the southernmost fjord on the rugged west coast of Spitsbergen Island. Jagged mountain peaks tower above glacier-filled bays. Listen for the crash of white thunder as huge chunks of ice fall into the fjord. Amidst floating icebergs, watch for bearded seals, the rare beluga whale and the king of the Arctic – the polar bear. Sightings are fairly common as the polar bear’s favorite food, the ringed seal, breeds in the fjord. The surrounding cliffs are home to thousands of pairs of nesting little auks. You may visit the Polish research station or the remains of whaling stations and trappers’ huts.
Prins Karls Forland
Off the west coast of Spitsbergen, encounter Forland National Park with craggy mountains, massive glaciers and remarkable wildlife. The entire island and the surrounding seas make up Forland National Park. Cruise by zodiac to Poolypnten, a well-known walrus haul out, where your marine biologist explains the habits and habitat of these amazing creatures.
Silver Explorer‘s strengthened hull is the perfect platform to search for walrus and polar bears. At least one day will be devoted to exploring the pack ice north of Spitsbergen. Conditions permitting, the Expedition Leader may choose to take out the Zodiacs for an even closer look.
Pushing about 50 miles (80 kilometers) into Spitsbergen is the more than 12-mile wide Bellsund. At the entrance of the fjord you are likely to encounter some Common Eiders, Arctic Terns, and Arctic Skuas. Snow Bunting and Purple Sandpipers are also common in the area. The plan is to explore the seldom-visited Van Keulenfjord, where you will witness awe-inspiring landscapes as you trek along the tundra.
Enter the realm of the Polar Bear on the third-largest island in the Svalbard archipelago. Conditions permitting, go ashore at the hard-to-get-to Diskobukta, where you will discover interesting fauna and flora and take a walk amongst thousands of kittiwakes and hopefully some Arctic Foxes. The coastal waters often provide fantastic opportunities to see walrus and Polar Bear on ice floes.
During much of the year the Hinlopenstrait is ice-clogged. Conditions permitting, go through, looking for wildlife in the lesser-visited eastern part of Svalbard. The chances of seeing Polar Bears and walrus in this area are good, as this is where most of the ice is concentrated.
Off Lomfjorden is the smaller Faksevågen and on its northern side the hill Faksefjellet. Go ashore for a tundra hike and to climb part of Faksefjellet. A gradual slope will lead up past beautiful tundra-vegetation, mountain avens and white artic bell-heather and will permit views across Faksevågen and the surrounding valleys.
The 14th of July Bay is located at the entrance of Krossfjorden. Go ashore for a hike up to the 14th of July Glacier –conditions permitting, climb onto the glacier, or, alternatively walk to the Hanging Gardens, a beautiful plant oasis underneath a bird cliff.
On the northern side of Lomfjordhalvøya (Lomfjorden Peninsula) is one of the most dramatic bird cliffs Svalbard has to offer. Depending on ice conditions, cruise along the cliff by Zodiac or by ship. In either case, the view of tens of thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemot breeding pairs, Black Guillemots, with the odd Glaucous Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes, plus the occasional Arctic fox along a cliff of several kilometers in length make this one outstanding experience. Even if there were no birds, the 100 meter high cliff with its dolerite intrusions in the Permian limestone would make for excellent viewing.
Arrive at Longyearbyen in the early morning. Disembark the vessel and transfer to the airport for your charter flight to Oslo.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.
Although travel insurance is not mandatory to participate in this voyage, ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
Ship accommodation; all onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; complimentary beverages (select wines, champagne, spirits, bottled water, specialty coffees, juices and soft drinks); onboard gratuities (except spa and salon); parka; Silver, Medallion, Grand and Owner's Suite guests receive laundry service and dinner at Officer's table; 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Adventurer, Explorer, View, Vista, and Veranda Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Expedition, Medallion, Silver, Grand, and Owner’s Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; government fees and taxes; transfers and luggage handling; passport and visa expenses; travel insurance; items of a personal nature; Wifi; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos © Daniela Plaza and James Godfrey