Expect a new adventure every day, as you journey around the island of Spitsbergen and explore smaller, outlying islands. The variety of incredible wildlife and geological formations found here is astounding! Every expedition will be unique, but a few of our favorite landing sites include the 14th of July Glacier, Ny London, Phippsoya, Aklefjellet and the seldom visited Kvttøya.
The names may seem strange to you, but they each have their own unique appeal. For birders, the 14th of July Glacier is home to purple sandpipers, common eiders, barnacle geese and Arctic terns; while Alkefjellet is home to nesting brünich guillermots (thick-billed murres).
If you want to prove that reindeer are real, then you’ll want to have your camera ready for visits to sites like Ny London, Sundneset and Alkhornet.
As for the largest land carnivore in the world – searching for polar bears is a constant activity, with Phippsoya and Isbukta being two of their preferred places for hunting – meaning great potential for you to capture them in action.
A big part of appreciating Spitsbergen comes from understanding the culture, not just how people live today, but how this land was first explored. Whaling was a key industry here and you will see blubber ovens and other whaling evidence at landing sites such as Smeerenburg. Colorful tundra meadow displays are complimented by glaciers and the potential exists for spotting beluga whales.
POSSIBLE LANDINGS AND WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS
This cliff is a seabird center, where brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) raise their young. An estimated 100,000 breeding pairs raise their young here in the basalt cliffs. The birds do not build nests, rather they lay an egg on the bare ledge.
This bay on the west shore of Edgeøya affords a landing site with a box canyon where black-legged kittiwakes
raise their young. Arctic foxes have been seen combing the canyon floor to feed on scraps that have fallen from the nests above. Watch for bones of ancient bowhead whales on the canyon floor, evidence that the shoreline has changed over millennia.
On the eastern shore of the southern tip of Svalbard is Ice Bay. Sabine gulls, skuas and bearded seals inhabit the bay. polar bears are known to patrol the area as well.
Is an island! Both nautical charts and topographical maps define Isispynten as a point of land, but we’ve proved them wrong. Receding glaciers have turned this point of land into an island.
This is a well-known walrus haul out. The pink color to a walrus’ hide as it lies in the sun is caused by blood pumped to the skin’s surface to aid cooling, similar to that of a hippopotamus in Africa.
The western part of this island is only 98 km from Victoria Island in Franz Josef Land, which is part of the Russian Arctic. This remote outpost is actually closer to the Russian Arctic than it is to Nordaustlandet (117 km) and is actually located on the same longitude as Cairo, Egypt!
In 1906, His Serene Highness Prince Albert I of Monaco visited Lilliehöök Glacier to conduct scientific investigations. His great-great-grandson visited the glacier 100 years later. He, too, was part of a scientific investigation, this time to further our understanding of the Arctic clam, a species that lives for more than a century. The growth rings of a single clam’s shell contain evidence of the chemicals encountered by the clam. Scientists can determine the variations of the water’s temperature and pollutant content by studying the shell.
Eighteen hundred people inhabit the administrative capital of Svalbard, which is situated on the shore of Isfjorden. The settlement was founded in 1905 by John Munroe Longyear, the majority owner of the Arctic Coal Company of Boston.
This island is designated as a protected sanctuary for walrus.
HSH Prince Albert I of Monaco, a pioneer of oceanography, led an expedition to Svalbard in 1906. His team used sophisticated photographic techniques to understand the shape and position of several glacier fronts. Monaco Glacier honours the expedition, the prince and the principality over which he reigned.
This small archipelago is the northernmost land in Svalbard. Englishmen left their mark during a survey of the islands in the 1780s. The party named the islands after themselves, with the smallest and least significant island being named Nelsonøya, after the lowly midshipman.
This is an excellent location to stretch the legs and explore the Arctic on foot. We often head out hiking here in search of reindeer.
The Samarin Glacier dominates the landscape that surrounds the bay, where icebergs, kittiwakes and brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) may be seen.
This polar desert may seem barren, but traces of life can be found here, including fossils and whalebones that are 9,500 years old. The bones provide nutrients for microenvironments that leach from the ancient bones.
Otter Island is an excellent location for Zodiac cruising to search for and photograph polar bears and walrus.
This is a beautiful and colourful tundra-covered island with moss campion (a small wildflower), saxifrage and Arctic mouse-eared chickweed. Fun names on an island that is a pleasure to explore.
IMPORTANT REMINDER Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy – and excitement – of expedition travel. When travelling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. The above is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.