Take this epic voyage to attempt to find a way through the Arctic’s ever-changing sea ice and venture above the 80th parallel north. If the ice allows, complete a circumnavigation of the island of Spitsbergen, and visit some other highlights of the Svalbard archipelago. Spend time exploring the North West Spitsbergen National Park and Eastern Svalbard Nature Reserve, and keep a watch for the king of the Arctic: polar bears.
Your trip starts with a flight from Oslo in the evening. Before your flight, enjoy the museums, parks and cafés of the Norwegian capital. On arrival in Longyearbyen, you will set foot in an entirely different world: a tiny town perched on the edge of the Arctic wilderness. Transfer to your hotel and overnight.
After an overnight stay, join an excursion to get to know this unique town after lunch. The mighty Arctic wilderness dominates life here, but Longyearbyen maintains a lively cultural life and serves as a prime destination for adventure travelers. Enjoy the atmosphere of this colorful frontier outpost before boarding your ship in the afternoon.
The North West Corner is scattered with lovely islands, fjords and beaches, but such majestic sights can be blocked by heavy sea ice. The expedition team will use their expertise and 120 years of experience in these waters to try and navigate the ice in order to access areas for you to explore. One such site is Kongsfjorden, one of the most beautiful fjord areas in Spitsbergen, with mighty glaciers calving icebergs into the sea, framed by stunning mountain formations. Also plan to call on the former mining settlement of Ny-Alesund, now an international center for research, with a picturesque mix of old and new buildings. There will likely be many other exciting landings and scenic kayaking opportunities if we the ship is able to move past the ice and go further north.
Day 5-7: Expedition days at Eastern Svalbard Nature Reserve
Eastern Svalbard boasts the highest population of polar bears in the archipelago. You will also be exploring the area in summertime, which is when polar bears and their cubs will be out hunting for seals on the ice floes. You can therefore have high hopes that you’ll spot one or more during this journey, though of course, wildlife cannot be guaranteed.
The Arctic Ocean in this part of Svalbard is also full of drifting ice and its frozen seascape changes constantly. Being modern-day explorers, the captain and the Expedition Team will be carefully analyzing the density and movements of the sea ice using advanced sonar and live satellite imagery. They will then discuss together and decide where the ship can safely sail or land. This is what makes this cruise an expedition: it is a true, suspense-filled adventure into the Arctic’s great wilderness, negotiating and adapting to whatever elements nature presents. Ultimately, it is the sea ice that will determine whether we can cross the 80th parallel and head further north to Sjuøyane (Seven Islands) at the extreme of the Svalbard archipelago. Again, depending on sea and weather conditions at the time, we will sail through the Hinlopen Strait, before continuing towards Edgeøya, the third largest island in the archipelago.
Our aim for these days is to navigate any sea ice and reach the southernmost tip of Spitsbergen. The varied geology here at Hornsund has created a dramatic and photogenic landscape. Ice pushed into the fjord early in the season also attracts polar bears that hunt on the floes, so with a bit of luck, look for this magnificent predator.
Spend the day exploring the Isfjord, the most prominent fjord system on Svalbard. In the inner parts of Isfjorden, the landscape changes constantly. The immense U-shaped valleys, carved out of the mountains by the giant glaciers that covered the area some ten thousand years ago, are home to large populations of the Svalbard reindeer.
Day 10: Longyearbyen | Disembark
Our return to the colorful town of Longyearbyen marks the end of a remarkable voyage that brought us just a few hundred miles from the Geographical North Pole. Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Oslo.
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.