Summary : Explore the Arctic on an all-encompassing expedition in search of the mighty polar bear. Travel alongside an experienced Expedition Team and a famed climatic scientist to learn about the shifting climate impacts on this delicate region. Discover rarely traversed volcanic island Jan Mayen and the starkly beautiful lava fields and ice caves of Iceland’s Westfjords. Experience this thrilling destination through daily guided shore landings, as well as active excursions. Enjoy active exploration of the Arctic’s varied landscapes, from sea kayaking through ice floes to epic volcanic hikes, all under the guide of an award-winning Expedition Tea. Experience a vast breadth of Arctic wildlife habitats, including the polar bear haven of Svalbard. Cruise to the remote east coast of Greenland, where you may visit Kaiser Franz Josef Fjords, Scoresby Sound and the Inuit village of Ittoqqortoormii. Discover North Iceland and the whale-watching village of Husavik, where you experience a private, behind-the-scenes tour at the renowned Husavik Whale Museum. Learn about the science behind the changing polar climate with famed climate scientist, ecologist and guest lecturer Dr. James McClintock, who has authored multiple research articles and books on the topic of climate change.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Arrive in Oslo, where you are met and escorted to your hotel. This evening, meet fellow guests for a welcome dinner and cocktail reception.
Board an early morning charter flight (extra cost) to Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard, also known as Spitsbergen, the sovereign Arctic archipelago of Norway. It is one of the most remote groups of islands on the planet, with nearly two-thirds of its surface covered in luminous glaciers. Tour the tiny town and its Arctic Museum. This afternoon, board your expedition cruiser, 'Le Boreal.'
Very few people have the opportunity to view the remote wilderness of the Svalbard Islands (also known as Spitsbergen). In the archipelago, polar bears, walruses, Svalbard reindeer and an incredibly rich variety of birds are abundant, as are cathedrals of ice, glaciers and craggy mountain peaks. An exquisite assortment of flora also pepper this rugged landscape.
Your Captain and Expedition Leader determine the day’s best sightseeing opportunities, which may include: Ny Alesund, home to a polar research station and the northernmost post office in the world; the towering Alkefjellet, also known as the “auk cliffs,” which drop directly into the sea and provide a home to vast colonies of auks; and Monacobreen (formerly known as Monaco Bay) and Glacier, frequented by polar bears, walruses, harbor and bearded seals, and a multitude of seabirds; Austfonna ice cliffs: One of the world’s largest ice caps, spanning over 5,000 square miles; Liefdefjorden (The Love Fjord): Named after a Dutch ship with the same name, this fjord is another excellent area for spotting polar bears and wildlife; Sjuoyane (“Seven Islands”): The most northerly region of the Svalbard archipelago.
Throughout your voyage, the primary objective is to search for polar bears as they roam in their natural habitat. In every region, enjoy endless moments of discovery alongside A&K’s seasoned Expedition Team, who know intuitively where and when you’re most likely to see polar bears and wildlife — which you observe from the safety and comfort of ‘Le Boreal.’ These same experts also scout every landing site in advance of your arrival,
Cruise south through the Greenland Sea as lecturers offer presentations on the wildlife, history and geology of Svalbard and prepare you for visits to Jan Mayen and Greenland.
At the confluence of the Greenland and Norwegian seas, arrive at Jan Mayen, a fascinating and rugged island dominated by the 7,500-foot Beerenberg Volcano, which today stands as the world’s northernmost active volcano. With special permission and conditions permitting, land on this rarely visited island to see its meteorological station, Olonkinbyen, and discover its phenomenal bird colonies. Designated by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA), Jan Mayen supports large breeding colonies of northern fulmars, little auks, thick-billed guillemots and black guillemots.
While crossing the Greenland Sea and cruising along the Arctic ice edge, your Expedition Team prepares you for the world’s largest island: Greenland. Arrive at its rarely visited east coast and Scoresby Sound, the largest and longest fjord system in the world, all of which you enjoy exploring for the next three days. Embark on Zodiac excursions through the fjord’s intricate network, taking in its islands and icebergs and searching for residents that include the musk ox and Arctic fox. Ice conditions permitting, disembark for a visit to the small settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the most isolated villages in Greenland.
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea cruising the narrow strip of water that separates Greenland from Iceland and connects the Arctic Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Continue exciting conversations with your Expedition Team and enrichment specialists. Watch for seabirds and whales from the deck in between the insightful lectures they present.
Arrive in picturesque Husavik and visit the Husavik Whale Museum, supported by A&K Philanthropy. The museum is one of the world’s foremost centers for research of whales and their habitat. Afterward, choose to embark on a scenic whale-watching tour followed by free time in Husavik, or else set off for Godafoss Falls and geothermal Lake Myvatn. Tonight, gather with your Expedition Team and fellow guests for a special farewell reception and dinner.
The Westfjords of Iceland are more remote and much less visited than other parts of the country. Settlements are small and interspersed among spectacular glacier-carved mountains and coves. You might make a visit to Dynjandi Falls, the grandest waterfall in the Westfjords. Dynjandi is a spectacular sight, with water cascading down tiered ridges flanked by a green and brown façade. Enjoy leisurely walks up to a viewing platform or opt for something more vigorous, like a hike all the way to the top of the falls. Another possible place you may visit is Red Sand Beach, one of the most beguiling shorelines in Iceland. Wander the reddish-hued sands as they subtly change color with the sunlight, shifting through a palette of reds, golds and greys.
This morning, disembark in Reykjavik and transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or continue on in Iceland with an optional Reykjavik extension (not included).
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 $100,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Optional Post-Cruise Extension: Reykjavik
Visit the world’s most northerly capital and enjoy a choice of adventures. 4 days from $4,795 per person double occupancy. Single supplement from $1,395.
One pre-cruise hotel night in Oslo with breakfast; transfer between Oslo airport/hotel; transfer from Longyearbyen airport to ship; transfer from ship to Reykjavik airport; shipboard accommodations; Wi-Fi onboard ship and in hotel; valet laundry service onboard ship (limited amount, excludes dry cleaning); kayaking excursion; gear to keep (parka, backpack); gear on loan (boots, walking poles, waterproof pants); all meals onboard the ship; room service onboard ship; most beverages onboard ship; complimentary local beer and wine for included meals onshore; gratuities for ship's crew and expedition staff; memory book upon return (one per booking). Butler service only for those in Suites (Categories 5-8) onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
International airfare; charter flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen; passport and visa expenses; laundry other than mentioned as included; meals not mentioned as included; premium alcohol, spirits and Champagne; communication charges not mentioned as included; all items of a personal nature; required travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport departure tax; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos: © A&K Image Library