Search for polar bears, reindeer, whales and Arctic foxes in their natural, icy habitat.
Lying entirely within the Arctic Circle, Svalbard’s largest island, Spitsbergen is rugged, wild, unspoiled and utterly unforgettable. Offering one of the world’s best opportunity to view polar bears, this voyage will enable you to search for the world’s largest carnivores in their natural habitat. Walrus populations love Spitsbergen as well, feeding in the food-rich icy waters around the island. Whales and seabirds will entertain you during the sailing portions of the expedition, while you may catch a sighting of reindeer or Arctic fox when taking Zodiac excursions to land. It’s truly a nature-lover’s paradise.
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- Physical rating
- Trip rating
- 2 reviews
- Min 8
- Group size
- Min 1, Max 132
Why you'll love this trip
Uncover the incredible landscape of Spitsbergen, from the quirky northernmost city of Longyearbyen and brilliantly blue glaciers to stunning fjords and towering mountains and cliffs.
Scour sheets of ice and hopefully be rewarded with unforgettable sightings of the ruler of the Arctic – the Polar Bear.
With 24 hours of daylight there are also endless wildlife-viewing opportunities – elusive Arctic foxes, breaching whales, lounging masses of walruses, and enchanting seabirds dotted along the cliffs of Alkefjellet.
Choose to get even closer to this amazing environment with optional activities like snowshoeing, hiking, and gliding along pristine waters between icebergs in a sea kayak.
Is this trip right for you?
On this itinerary, you'll be travelling aboard the Ocean Adventurer
On this itinerary, you'll be travelling aboard the World Explorer.
Meals IncludedThere are no meals included on this day.
Special InformationNo arrival transfer is included but tonight's hotel is at the airport.
If you’re looking for confirmation 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 – Phippsøya and Isbukta are two of the bears’ preferred places for hunting.
A big part of appreciating Spitsbergen comes from understanding the culture—not just how people live today, but also how this land was first explored. Whaling was a key industry, and you will see old blubber ovens from the 16th century, plus other evidence of whaling at landing sites such as Smeerenburg. Colourful tundra meadows are complemented by glaciers, and sometimes there is a rare chance to spot beluga whales.
POSSIBLE LANDING SITES IN SVALBARD
This cliff is a seabird centre, where Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) raise their young. An estimated 100,000 breeding pairs reside 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 are sometimes 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.
Both nautical charts and topographical maps define Isispynten as a point of land, receding glaciers have actually turned this point of land into an island.
This is a well-known walrus haul-out. The pink colour 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 a hippopotamus.
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.
One of the places where you can find the unusual 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 small island is designated as a protected sanctuary for walrus and also a popular nesting site for a wide range of seabirds.
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 honors 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. You may get the opportunity to 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 the place to go for Zodiac cruising in search of polar bears and walrus to photograph.
This beautiful island is covered with colourful and unique tundra including moss campion (a small wildflower), saxifrage and arctic mouse-eared chickweed.
INCLUDED OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
These activities are offered on some or all departures of this itinerary, depending on weather conditions. There is no additional cost.
SNOWSHOEING - A novel way to experience the beauty of the polar landscape and discover remote alcoves and hidden valleys. The rewards of walking atop the snow are well worth the effort, as you’ll be able to visit new places that may be inaccessible on foot. This traditional means of transport across the snow comes from the indigenous people of North America. While you can appreciate a connection with the past, the snowshoes used today are much lighter and more forgiving than the old wood-weave snowshoes used during the days of the North American fur trade.
HIKING - Hiking is a great way to appreciate the immense windswept landscapes of the Arctic. The tundra comes alive during the brief arctic summer, with bursts of colour from shrubs and plants that survive in this polar environment. You’ll find each hike is different - exploring communities, shorelines or glaciated landscapes, often on the lookout for wildlife. Your Expedition Team will advise you of the level of activity you can expect prior to each excursion.
ADDITIONAL OPTIONAL ACTIVITY
The following Optional Activities are available to participate in. These must be booked in advance (additional costs apply) and spaces are limited.
KAYAKING – A kayaking adventure is the best way to feel at one with the sea. Taken in small groups of maximum 16 people, multiple times per voyage, kayaking adventures are only conducted during calm weather conditions. Kayaking in the polar waters is not suitable for novice kayakers, so beginners interested in kayaking should take an introductory course prior to the voyage, which includes how to do a wet exit. In addition, regardless of your experience, we recommend you take part in some kayaking practise prior to the voyage to ensure that you are comfortable on the water in the icy conditions.
- Breakfast (11)
- Lunch (11)
- Dinner (11)
Special InformationAfter disembarkation, a transfer will be provided from the ship to the airport. for your charter flight. The trip ends on arrival at the airport in Oslo.
Meals13 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 12 dinners
TransportExpedition cruise ship, Zodiac, Plane
AccommodationHotel (1night), Expedition cruise ship (12 nights)
Arctic and Antarctic bookings have an increased deposit requirement of 20% of the full voyage cost (before any discount). The balance is due 120 days before departure.
If a booking is cancelled 120 days or more before departure - the cancellation fee is the full loss of the deposit paid.
If a booking is cancelled between 119 days and departure - the cancellation fee is 100% of the total price of the voyage.
Other fees may apply for air tickets and other arrangements booked in conjunction with a Polar voyage.
Kayaking is available to book on all Arctic voyages (except the North Pole). This must be booked prior to departure and incurs an additional cost. Spaces are limited so please enquire at time of booking. To participate in kayaking, previous, recent experience is essential. In addition, there are other included optional activities offered on some voyages such as snow shoeing and hiking. These activities do not need to be booked in advance and no additional cost applies.
Your voyage is operated by our sister company, Quark Expeditions. All accommodation and transfer arrangements as listed in the itinerary are also operated by Quark Expeditions or their local representatives.
Essential trip information
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