Summary : Discover Spitsbergen's highlights by exploring the western edge of the island and venturing to northern outlying areas—home to iconic Arctic wildlife. The remarkable islands of the Svalbard archipelago are part of Norway, lying far to the north of the Norwegian mainland and high above the Arctic Circle. This remarkable island hosts an astonishing array of wildlife, protected within seven national parks. The island itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Experience colonies of seabirds numbering into the thousands, watch for whales, walruses, reindeer, and polar bears. Packed with frequent shore landings, hikes, and Zodiac cruises as well as onboard lectures and optional paddling and sea kayaking, this is the perfect expedition for exploring the “Wildlife Capital of the Arctic.”
Activities : Birding, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Your arctic voyage begins in Oslo, Norway’s vibrant capital city. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and green spaces to keep you busy before retiring at your airport hotel.*
*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.
In the morning, your group will transfer to the airport and board a private charter flight* to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen's largest settlement, where you'll have some time to explore before embarkation. As your ship sets sail, enjoy your first view of the island's rugged, glacier-topped mountains rising majestically from icy waters.
Explore western Spitsbergen as well as stunning fjords and outlying islands to the north. From polar deserts to immense glaciers, the natural landscape here is just as varied as the wildlife. As you cruise around this magical island located above the Arctic Circle, your expedition team will constantly search for wildlife.
Each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather, so there is no fixed itinerary; however, some favorite destinations include 14th of July Glacier, Smeerenburg, Phippsøya, Alkhornet, and the Hinlopen Straight.
Destinations visited are selected for optimum wildlife viewing and appreciation of the history and geology of Spitsbergen.
The island offers multiple opportunities for wildlife photography. Since Svalbard’s legendary wildlife habitat is well-protected and almost entirely uninhabited, it’s one of the world’s best places to spot polar bears in their natural landscapes of ice, Arctic deserts and mountain scenery.
The towering cliffs of Alkefjellet provide homes to thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres). Coming across a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t soon forget. These giant pinnipeds of the Arctic create quite a noisy scene as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline.
If you’re itching to experience a more intimate view from the water, you can book a sea kayaking or paddling excursion.
There is no shortage of natural beauty in Spitsbergen. The tundra can be surprisingly colorful in summer, with wildflowers bursting for a taste of sunshine. Each day you’ll see something new, whether it is unique Arctic wildlife such as a polar bear resting between hunts, or abandoned sites from centuries ago.
Your Arctic adventure ends as it began, in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, you’ll transfer to the airport for your return group charter flight* to Oslo.
*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.
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.
Bilingual Departures: English/German
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must carry a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The travel insurance policy should also cover trip cancellation insurance, trip delay, interruption or after departure coverage, baggage and repatriation. The shipping company will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that you select a travel protection plan that includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage and at least $200,000 in medical evacuation coverage. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Pre-booking required. A small group of sea kayakers will plan to go out multiple times per voyage instead of shore landings. The number of opportunities to kayak is weather dependent and will only be conducted during calm conditions. Prior kayaking experience is required and you must have the capability to do a wet exit to participate. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider participating in the paddling excursions described below. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Pre-booking required. If you’re interested in kayaking but would like to try something less in-depth than the full kayaking program, you can still enjoy an on-water experience with a paddling excursion. Sign up for a one-time, one-hour paddle on a sit-on-top kayak, which is stable and unencumbered: perfect for anyone with little to no experience with kayaking. No experience necessary. Space is limited. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. All sit-on-top kayaks are doubles. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Transfers between Longyearbyen town center and port on embarkation and disembarkation day; shipboard accommodations; all shore landings per the daily program; all Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program; experienced Expedition Leader; formal and informal presentations by Expedition Team and special guests as scheduled; photographic journal; gear to keep (expedition parka and reusable water bottle); gear on loan (waterproof expedition boots for shore landings, walking poles); all meals on board ship; snacks, soft drinks, and juices on board; beer and house wine during dinner; coffee, tea, cocoa available around the clock; daily housekeeping; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; luggage handling aboard ship; emergency evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person*. Subject to change without notice.
Mandatory Transfer Package (see Additional Costs); international airfare; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above; any beverages that are not in the complimentary selection; any meals ashore unless otherwise specified; emergency medical coverage (required); baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage charges; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising or any other gear not mentioned; laundry, bar, beverage, and other personal charges unless specified; phone and internet charges; voluntary gratuity at end of voyage for shipboard staff and crew; any Adventure Options such as optional kayaking and optional paddling; additional overnight accommodation; fuel surcharge may apply.
*Emergency Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $500,000 is included in the cost of this expedition. Included coverage is applicable only while traveling with the shipping company between the first and last day of the expedition. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition, including pre- and post-packages/hotels/flights, purchased from the shipping company or from suppliers other than the shipping company, are not covered by the included emergency evacuation insurance. We strongly advise all passengers to purchase medical, cancellation and baggage insurance, and additional emergency evacuation coverage.
PHOTOS: © Acacia Johnson, © David Merron, © Nicky Souness, © Quark Expeditions