Summary : Discover the staggering beauty of Iceland’s Westfjords, remote and seldom-visited Jan Mayen Island—the world’s northernmost active volcanic—and Svalbard’s northwest coast. See dramatic bird cliffs and puffins nesting on ledges, marvel at volcanic geology, Zodiac cruise through impressive glacier-filled fjords, strike out on tundra hikes, search for polar bears hunting and walruses hauled out on pack ice.
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
- Save up to 10% per person
$6,200 to $11,700
After making your own way to Reykjavik pier, embark the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before important safety briefings.
One third of Iceland’s coastline is in the Westfjords, and the entire peninsula is carved and cut by long fjords. The Westfjords region is home to Látrabjarg; the westernmost point in Europe, and one of the continent’s most remarkable seabird breeding cliffs, a delight for birdlovers. It is one of the best places in Iceland to photograph puffins, an opportunity you’ll have on a Zodiac cruise, weather permitting.
The small town of Ísafjörður is the largest town in the Westfjords peninsula, with some 2,600 inhabitants. It is an ancient church site and has been a trading post since the 16th century. The growth of the town was triggered by salt fish production and fishing industry still remains the town’s main activity, along with tourism which has grown significantly in recent years.
Nearby Hornstrandir nature reserve is a peninsula accessible only by boat or by foot and inhabited by Arctic foxes, seals, birds and the occasional hiker. Zodiac cruise along the shoreline of Hornstrandir nature reserve and attempt a landing, subject to approval by the park ranger.
Cross the Denmark Strait to Jan Mayen Island accompanied by sea birds while keeping a look out for whales. Enjoy a presentation from your team of experts, get to know your fellow expeditioners, stay fit at the gym, or treat yourself to a massage in the wellness center.
The approach to Jan Mayen is spectacular. The huge Beerenberg volcano (2,277 meters / 7,470 feet) is the world’s northernmost active volcano, and last erupted in 1985. The northern part of the island is a great place to look for whales and dolphins, and contains impressive glaciers, some of which reach the sea. If the weather is friendly, attempt to land at Kvalrossbukta, a relatively sheltered bay on the island’s west coast. This is one of the landings used to supply the weather station Olonkinbyen, situated on the eastern side of the island. The hope is to land on front of the Norwegian station at Olonkinbyen, and stop to visit the weather station before embarking on a three-hour hike (weather permitting) to the other side of the island where the Greg Mortimer will be waiting in Kvalrossbukta. Zodiacs will be there to transport you back to the ship.
The sea around Jan Mayen offers excellent whale-watching opportunities (bottlenose, fin, and perhaps bowhead whales in the pack ice). Sail towards Svalbard, searching for the ice edge as the ship continues north, retracing the route of Dutch explorer Willem Barents who discovered Spitsbergen and the Barents Sea. It’s breeding season for harp seals so keep an eye out for them on the sea ice. Approaching Svalbard, all eyes will be focused on spotting polar bears in the pack ice.
The plan is to cross 80° North—always on the lookout for polar bears on the pack ice—to reach Moffen Island, famous for its large walrus colony. In the coming days, depending on the weather and sea ice conditions, you may explore sites including the incredibly scenic Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay), a fjord headed by two giant glaciers. Perhaps spend time ashore hiking on the lush tundra among the early summer flowers and observing the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs. Keep watch for polar bears and Arctic fox and feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of a Dutch whaling settlement at Smeerenberg on Amsterdamøya. You may visit Raudfjord which features fascinating geology, glaciers and bird cliffs. A possible hike on Ytre Norskya offers splendid views to the north coast of Spitsbergen and maybe even to the North Pole in clear weather!
During the early morning cruise into Longyearbyen. Farewell your expedition team and fellow expeditioners as you continue onwards. Enjoy a town tour of before a transfer to the airport in the afternoon.
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. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance at a minimum coverage of $250,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. Insurance should cover personal accident and medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, baggage loss, and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Exploration by kayak is an ideal way to surround yourself in the sights and sounds of the Arctic - paddling among icebergs and brash ice, observing wildlife in an unobtrusive manner. Some kayak excursions may be long in duration and on choppy water, so a reasonable level of kayaking experience is required to participate in this activity. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
Half day tour of Longyearbyen on disembarkation day 11; transfer from ship to airport on disembarkation day; shipboard accommodations; printed photo book from your voyage (post voyage, one per booking); gear to keep (expedition jacket); gear on loan (boots); all meals onboard ship; house wines, beers, and soft drinks with dinner onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; passport and visa expenses; optional activity supplements; alcohol and beverages not mentioned as included; items of a personal nature such as Wi-Fi, laundry service, spa charges, medical expenses; required travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport arrival or departure taxes; gratuities (NOTE: Gratuities for crew will automatically be added to your bill. Please advise at the time of settlement if you would like this to be removed); fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos ©: Michael Baynes (group kayaking, puffin, Zodiac cruising); Desire De Vries (feather); Lenka Gondova (fox); Carole O'Neill (polar bear, walrus); Geoff Perraton (solo kayaker); Dirk Selderyk (polar bear with cubs)