West Spitsbergen & Polar Ice

Not only a frozen wilderness, Spitsbergen is a place of precarious beauty and a stronghold of endangered Arctic wildlife.This remarkable expedition departs from the far northern settlement of Longyearbyen on the Norwegian Arctic island of Spitsbergen in the famed Svalbard archipelago. We explore the island’s northwestern coast, home to dramatic mountain scenery, tidewater glaciers, and some of the Arctic’s best wildlife viewing opportunities.

DATES – 2017 – June 28 – July 08 (11-Days)

Route Map

2018 – June 27 – July 05 (9-Days)

EMBARKATION – Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen

DISEMBARKATION – Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen

SHIP – M/V Sea Spirit

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HIGHLIGHTS:

ARCTIC WILDERNESS
The unique Arctic ecosystem of Spitsbergen is almost entirely protected in a network of nature reserves and national parks. Our voyage takes us to Nordre Isfjorden Nasjonalpark, Forlandet Nasjonalpark, and the spectacular Nordvest-Spitsbergen Nasjonalpark. Each has its own claim to Svalbard’s magnificent natural history.
By land and sea we encounter a wealth of wildlife—including walrus, Arctic fox, reindeer, and a variety of whales and seals—in one of the High Arctic’s most pristine and protected environments. We also encounter a surprising wealth of hardy plant life and striking geology throughout the area.

POLAR BEARS
Svalbard boasts one of the Arctic’s highest concentrations of polar bears. They are the world’s largest land carnivores and have become a symbol of the imperiled Arctic wilderness. This is one of the best places in the world to view polar bears hunting in their preferred habitat: the pack ice.

During our sojourn to the ice edge we hope to come across this majestic creature employing various strategies to catch seals in the ever-shifting labyrinth of the pack ice. But these wide-ranging and opportunistic Arctic nomads can just as well be found at other places and times during our voyage.

HUMAN ENDEAVOR
Our area of exploration is rich with historical sites including early whaling camps, trappers’ cabins, deserted coal mining operations, and an abandoned polar research station. It also contains the staging areas for many historic expeditions to the North Pole, including those of Roald Amundsen and Walter Wellman.

Curious Polar Bears

Modern human endeavor in this area can be experienced at Ny Ålesund, a former mining town that is now home to a multinational community of Arctic researchers. In addition to a museum, gift shop, and post office, visitors to this extreme northern settlement find a famous bust of Amundsen and a historic airship mast.

ITINERARY

Day 1: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Welcome to Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard and starting point of our expedition. After arriving via scheduled commercial flight service, you are free to explore this fascinating Arctic settlement. Be sure to see the excellent Svalbard Museum and take advantage of quality shopping and dining opportunities in the town center. Your hotel for the night has been arranged by us and is included in the price of the voyage.

Svalbard

Day 2: Embarkation in Longyearbyen
In the afternoon we welcome you aboard the luxury expedition ship M/V Sea Spirit. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home away from home for the extraordinary adventure to come. Savor the anticipation of your Arctic dreams coming true as we slip our moorings and sail into a true wilderness where wildlife abounds. The scenery as we sail through Isfjorden on our first evening is spectacular and there is already the possibility of marine mammal encounters.

Day 3-10: Exploration of West Spitsbergen
This is a real expedition in a true High Arctic wilderness. As such, our route and exploration opportunities here are heavily dependent on the weather and sea ice conditions we encounter. Our experienced captain and expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as conditions and opportunities warrant. You can be sure that the best possible advantage will be taken of the circumstances presented to us by Nature in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic.

Exploring by Zodiac

Polar bears and other quintessential Arctic wildlife can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Svalbard. We exploit every opportunity to experience excellent wildlife viewing, to discover incredible scenery, and to walk in the footsteps of the historic polar expeditions that came before us.

We anticipate exploring the spectacular fjords, coasts, and islands in the northwestern part of Svalbard. This area contains the archipelago’s most impressive scenery and some of the Arctic’s best wildlife viewing opportunities. Deep fjords and narrow channels are flanked by jagged snowy mountain peaks. Immense tidewater glaciers calve icebergs into turquoise waters. On ice floes and on fast ice several species of seals watch vigilantly for polar bears. Fields of flowering tundra are home to grazing reindeer and playful Arctic fox. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales. The whole area is alive with migratory birds, including numerous rare species, taking advantage of summer’s fecundity in 24-hour daylight.

And over it all presides the polar bear, monarch of the North. This wild corner of Svalbard is one of the best places in the world to observe polar bears hunting in their preferred habitat: the pack ice. We take the ship as close as safely possible to the jumbled and broken edge of the polar ice cap, where polar bears stalk the frozen sea in search of seals.

Up close, and personal

To complete the Arctic experience we also explore places rich with history. Our area of exploration contains the historical remnants of whaling camps, coal mining operations, trappers’ cabins, staging areas for historic attempts to discover the North Pole, and even an abandoned polar research station.

Human habitation in this area can be found only at Ny Ålesund, a former mining town that is now home to an international community of Arctic researchers. This is one of the world’s most northerly settlements, complete with museum, gift shop, and post office.

The days are filled with memorable excursions, sumptuous meals, presentations by our experts, and enough stunning scenery and wildlife to fill your camera and overwhelm your emotions.

Day 11: Disembarkation in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
After breakfast we say farewell in the town of Longyearbyen, where we started. We provide a transfer to the airport or to the town center if you wish to spend more time here. As you look back on your wonderful experience in Svalbard, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice!

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