Summary : Set out on an Arctic expedition around Spitsbergen, where you will seek polar bear, walrus, reindeer, various bird species, and beautiful flora. Near the mouth of Liefdefjorden, go ashore for a walk on the tundra of Reindyrsflya. Sailing into Liefdefjorden, cruise near the face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes and occasionally polar bears are seen on the glacier.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Diving, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$4,900 to $8,850
Today you will arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.
Please Note: The chances that you can complete a full Spitsbergen Circumnavigation (based on experience from 1992-2015) are about, 20% in the first half of July, 50% in the second half of July, 80% in the first half of August, 90% in the second half of August. In case you cannot complete a full circumnavigation you will mostly resort to a program in Northeast or Southeast Spitsbergen.
Heading north along the west coast, you will arrive by morning in Krossfjorden. Board a Zodiac for a cruise along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, a colorful variety of flowers bloom, while large numbers of kittiwake and Brünnich’s guillemot nest on the nearby cliffs. There is also a good chance of spotting Arctic fox patroling the base of the cliffs in case a chick falls from its nest. In the afternoon, sail to Ny Ålesund, the world’s most northerly settlement. Once a mining village – served by the world’s most northerly railway, which can still be seen – Ny Ålesund is now a research center. Close to the village is a breeding ground for barnacle geese, pink-footed geese and Arctic terns. You will walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile before their flights to the North Pole.
Near the mouth of Liefdefjorden, go ashore for a walk on the tundra of Reindyrsflya. Cruise into Liefdefjorden near the face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes. Occasionally polar bear are seen on the glacier.
Your northernmost landing is at Phippsøya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. Here you will be at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, along with walruses and Ivory gulls. You may sit for several hours in the pack ice, taking in your spectacular surroundings. When the edge of the sea-ice is tens of miles north of the Seven Islands (mostly in August) you will spend a second day to get to and in the sea ice. Alternatively (mostly in July) you will turn to Sorgfjord where you may find a herd of walruses not far from the graves of 17th century whalers. On a nature walk, you may encounter families of Ptarmigans. The opposite side of the fjord is also a beautiful area for an excursion.
Today you will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seal, Ringed Seal, Polar Bear, and Ivory Gull. You’ll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in your Zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemot. On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, you’ll attempt a landing at Augustabukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, pink-footed geese, breeding Ivory gulls, and walruses. Near Torrelneset, you will explore the polar desert of Nordaustlandet, next to the world’s third largest ice cap, which meets the sea nearby. You will walk along beautiful coastline covered in smooth rocks, sculpted by the surf over thousands of years. You may encounter walruses along the way.
In Freemansundet, plan to land at Sundneset on the island of Barentsøya to visit an old trapper's hut and then take a brisk walk across the tundra in search of Spitsbergen reindeer and Barnacle geese. Later you will cruise south to Diskobukta on the west side of Edgeøya. After a Zodiac cruise through the shallow bay, you will land on a beach littered with whale bones and tree trunks, which have drifted here from Siberia. You can also climb to the rim of a narrow gully which is inhabited by thousands of Kittiwake, together with Black Guillemot and the Glaucous Gull. During the breeding season, the base of the cliffs are patrolled by Arctic fox and polar bears, especially females with young cubs, searching for young birds that have fallen from the nesting ledges.
Start the day quietly cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen, enjoying the scenery of towering mountain peaks. Hornsundtind rises to 889 feet, while Bautaen shows why early Dutch explorers gave the name ‘Spitsbergen’, or "pointed mountains", to the island. There are also 14 magnificent glaciers in the area and very good chances of encounters with seals and polar bears.
Today you will land on Ahlstrandhalvøya at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden. Here piles of Beluga skeletons (the beluga is a small white whale), the remains of 19th century slaughter, are yet another reminder of the consequences of thoughtless exploitation. Fortunately, belugas were not hunted to the edge of extinction and may still be seen locally. Indeed, there is a good chance that you will come across a pod. Cruising into Recherchefjorden during the afternoon you can explore an area of tundra at the head of the fjord where many reindeer feed.
Today you will return to Longyearbyen and disembark for the transfer to the airport and the flight to Oslo and home.
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.
Please Note: All voyages will operate subject to a minimum of 70 participants. The chances that you can complete a full Spitsbergen Circumnavigation (based on our experiences from 1992 until 2016) are about, 30% in the first half of July, 60% in the second half of July, 90% in the first half of August, 95% in the second half of August. In case it is not possible to complete a full circumnavigation you will mostly resort to a program in Northeast or Southeast Spitsbergen.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase insurance including medical, accident and repatriation/evacuation insurance. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Bilingual English-German Departures: 7/6/2018, 8/11/2018
Polar Diving: 7/6/2018
Dive under shallow water, down along walls, from the beach, or from a Zodiac. You will reach a maximum of 60 feet. Unlike no other dive—the combination of water, sunlight, and ice formations creates an ever-shifting spectacle of colors. Participants will dive in group of eight divers per guide, with a maximum of 24 divers per excursion. Compressors and weights are provided. Participants must bring their own dry suit with hood and additional equipment. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for a complete list. This activity is available for experienced divers. Participants are required to present their internationally accepted diver certificate, diver's logbook, and a statement from their doctor (not older than two years) that demonstrates they are in a good state of physical health allowing them to scuba dive. Experience with both cold water diving and dry suit diving (at least 30 dives) is required. Space is limited; request at time of booking. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Voyage aboard the designated vessel as indicated in the itinerary; all meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea; free use of rubber boots on loan; transfers and baggage handling between the airport, hotels and ship only for those passengers on the group flights to and from Longyearbyen; Zodiac rides; program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges; AECO fees and governmental taxes; comprehensive pre-departure material. Subject to change without notice.
Any airfare, whether on scheduled or charter flights; pre- and post-land arrangements; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes; meals ashore; travel insurance; excess baggage charges and all items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar, beverage charges and telecommunication charges; and the customary gratuity at the end of the voyages for stewards and other service personnel; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Erwin Vermeulen; © Franco Banfi; © Joerg Ehrlich; © Rinie van Meurs