Join an epic expedition cruise on Hurtigruten that circumnavigates the largest island in Svalbard with chances of seeing polar bears
Departures: 3 July, 11 July, 19 July and 27 July 2017
Your Arctic adventure starts with an evening flight from Norway's capital Oslo. Before departure, you can spend some time exploring this fjord-side city surrounded by forests, lakes and hills. Oslo offers a varied architecture, a strong café and bar culture, top-notch restaurants and endless shopping possibilities. The contrast will be significant when you arrive in Longyearbyen a couple of hours later. Still, this very small settlement offers all amenities of a modern town, in addition to its stunning location in a wild Arctic landscape.
After an overnight stay in one of our hotels, you can join an exciting excursion in the unique little town of Longyearbyen and the surrounding area. The influence of the Arctic environment is obvious but it is also surprisingly cosmopolitan, with art galleries, pubs, long wine lists at restaurants, shops and a mini-shopping centre. Whilst the town is often called an antidote to modern-day life and is a prime destination for adventure travellers, the history and heritage of the first coal miners is evident everywhere. Barentsburg is a Russian settlement, known for its coal mines and Soviet architecture, and is very different to Longyearbyen. The museum, library and newly opened brewery function as meeting points and a research station is under construction. See a colourful folklore show and visit the hotel and museum. Experience a different side of Svalbard, a little piece of Russia in the Arctic.
Kongsfjorden is considered to be one of the most beautiful fjord areas in Spitsbergen, with mighty glaciers calving icebergs into the sea, framed by characteristic mountain formations.
As we sail northwest, we reach Krossfjorden and Mitrahalvøya, where you can see ruined buildings from the whaling period, beautiful alpine flora, bird cliffs and quite often Svalbard reindeer. Try crossing a glacier with our Expedition Team. On our way back, we visit the former mining settlement of Ny-Ålesund, now an international centre for research, with a picturesque mix of old and new buildings.
The North West Corner of Spitsbergen offers the largest concentration of graves, blubber ovens and other cultural treasures from when we first started to inhabit Svalbard. Raudfjorden offers plenty of opportunities for great hikes. Hamiltonbukta is too shallow for our ship to navigate, but it’s perfect to explore by kayak. We will also see the enormous Monaco Glacier in Liefdefjord.
Eastern Svalbard also boasts the highest population of polar bears on the archipelago – we really hope that we’ll get the chance to see one on this journey! Today, we'll explore Sorgfjorden, which borders the North East Spitsbergen Nature Reserve, and was the location of a famous 17th-century battle between whalers. Enjoy the view from on deck as we pass the spectacular bird cliff of Alkefjellet, one of the largest of its kind.
Edgeøya is the third-largest island in the Svalbard archipelago. On its western shores, the landscape is largely un-glaciated, unlike most other places on the east side of Spitsbergen. Kapp Lee is a wonderful site where you will find cultural heritage from all eras of human exploration of Svalbard.
We continue to the southern cape and the southernmost tip of Spitsbergen, where Hornsund has large variations in its landscape and geology within short distances. Ice being pushed into the fjord early in the season attracts polar bears that hunt on the ice.
Isfjord is the most extensive fjord system in Svalbard. We will spend the day exploring both the outer and the inner parts of the fjord. One of the most striking features of the outer part is the Alkehornet peak, where thousands of Brunnich's guillemots nest during the summer season. 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 endemic Svalbard Reindeer. Later on we’ll find a scenic fjord arm and arrange a farewell barbecue in the most beautiful Arctic surroundings.
Every good explorer's voyage comes to an end. You will probably sense that time has passed faster than expected. Lingering is the subtle exhilaration of having spent time on top of the globe, just a few hundred miles from the Geographical North Pole. An early morning transfer takes you to the airport for your flight back to Oslo.
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