Day 1 Tromsø, Norway | Embark
Embark the Silver Wind this afternoon and depart on your exciting 11-day expedition.
Day 2 Gjesværstappan Islands
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Gjesværstappan Islands is a group of steep-sided islands located near the northernmost point of Norway and includes three main islands: Stortstappen, Kjerkestappen, and Bukkstapen. These three islands dramatically jut out of the ocean, covered in as much grass as they are occupied by birds. Extreme in its varied beauty and wildlife on land and sea, Gjesværstappan Nature Reserve (which makes up most of the Gjesværstappan Islands) is one of Europe’s most accessible and largest nesting areas for Atlantic seabirds. On Storstappen, the largest of the islands, some varieties of birds that can be found include European Shags, Common and Brünnich’s Guillemots, Black-legged Kittiwakes, White-tailed Sea-eagles and Europe’s largest Atlantic Puffin colony.
Day 3 Bear Island
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Almost halfway between Tromsø and Svalbard is isolated Bear Island – considered the southernmost island of the Svalbard Archipelago. The unglaciated island is an impressive Nature Reserve of steep, high cliffs that are frequented by seabirds, specifically at the southern tip. Brünnich’s Guillemots, Common Guillemots, Black Guillemots, Razorbills, Little Auks, Northern Fulmars, Glaucous Gulls, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and even Atlantic Puffins and Northern Gannets nest along the cliffs south of Sørhamna. Because of the large numbers of birds and the isolated location, Bear Island has been recognized as an Important Bird Area. It was once a hotspot for whaling and walrus hunting and at one stage even mining. Bear Island received its name because of a polar bear encountered by early explorer Willem Barentsz. Today polar bears rarely visit the island and its only settlement is a meteorological station manned all-year round on the north side.
Day 4-5 Svalbard’s Southern Region
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Svalbard’s Southern Region and specifically Spitsbergen’s west coast is less ice-clogged than the rest of Svalbard due to the moderating influenced of the Gulf Stream. Several fjords cut into the western coast of Spitsbergen and have been used by trappers and hunters, as well as the different mining companies that tried to exploit the riches of the archipelago’s largest island of Spitsbergen. Remains of huts and mines, as well as active commercial and scientific settlements can be found and visited. Depending on the time of the season, glaciers can be visited on foot or by sea. Northern places like Magdalenefjorden and Hornsund will reveal fascinating views of geological formations, craggy mountains, spectacular glaciers and a variety of seabirds and seals.
Day 6-10 Svalbard’s Northern Region
- 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
There are several deep fjords and prominent glaciers in the northern reaches of Svalbard, as well as the northern hemisphere’s widest glacier front. Ice conditions will dictate how much can be accessed in terms of cruising bird islets like the Andøyane Islets or approaching glaciers like Monaco Glacier and Seliger Glacier. The Northern Region is also known to have several walrus haul-outs and areas defined as “Arctic Desert”. Walks and hikes ashore to have a closer look at flora and wildlife are a possibility in the spectacular Northern Region of Svalbard.
Day 11 Longyearbyen | Disembark
Longyearbyen is the biggest settlement in Svalbard. The seat of the Norwegian administration, it also has the best services and infrastructure in the archipelago. Located deep in the Adventfjord, a sidearm of the Isfjorden (Icefjord), Longyearbyen’s airport can be used all-year-round, but its harbor is blocked by ice in winter. Most shops, hotels, restaurants and a hospital are within easy walking distance of the port. One of the most prominent buildings in town is the UNIS center, where several Norwegian universities have joined forces to operate and offer the northernmost higher education to both Norwegian and international students. Adjacent to UNIS, and well worth a visit, is the Svalbard Museum, covering the natural history and exploitation of Svalbard. Remnants of the former mining activity can be seen all around Longyearbyen and even