Polar pioneers of Svalbard
Appreciate the unique combination of midnight sun and full winter, north of the Arctic Circle
Departure dates: 18 May & 27 May 2017
Tromsø is called the Gateway to the Arctic. When polar explorer Roald Amundsen recruited members for his famous expeditions more than 100 years ago, he went to Tromsø. This was the only place he could find men (yes – it was mostly men back in those days) with navigational experience from Polar seas. He needed men that knew how to survive with minimal of means in the Arctic, men that had survived an overwintering in Svalbard by trapping and hunting. Today Tromsø is home to the most competent people on polar operations and the academics that investigate Global warming the in Arctic. It is a melting pot with indigenous people, locals and people from all over Europe. Tromsø is in short still the Gateway to the Artic and a natural starting point for several expeditions heading north – just like the one you are about to experience.
Bjørnøya, with a population of 9 persons, it is the southernmost island of the Svalbard Archipelago. It is situated very isolated in the middle of Arctic Ocean. This small island is known for being “the largest concentration of sea birds on the Northern Hemisphere”. This is where the cold waters from the Arctic Ocean meets warm Gulf Stream currents. When these water masses collide nutrient-rich water is pushed up to the surface, making it an "all-you-can-eat" buffet for 126 different bird spices of birds living here. We will try to make a landing here.
Cruising northbound from Bjørnøya we will take advantage of the conditions at hand, focusing on the ice edge. We will attempt to enter fjords where we can expect fast ice – ice that is landlocked. This is the platform where the ringed seal cast (gives birth) to their offspring, making it a perfect hunting ground for polar bears.
Within the Svalbard Archipelago there are about 3 000 polar bears, probably the largest concentration on Earth. There are more polar bears than humans. On the other hand the polar bears are solitude animals with no set colony or living area. It is only the pregnant females that use denning areas during winter. It is more likely to observe this marine mammal on the drift ice, close to the ocean or even in the ocean. Bottom line is that we often observe polar bears on this itinerary – not every day and seldom on very close range – there are no guarantees for sure. But the more eyes scouting through binoculars the higher is the chance of observing the King of the Arctic.
The climate in Spitsbergen is mild compared to the location. Longyearbyen, as one of the northernmost settlements in the world, benefit from the Golf Stream. Spitsbergen Travel is a part of Hurtigruten and offers great winter experiences like dogsledding, ice caving and snow scooter. You should not stray outside the city limits without being together with a guide.
You will certainly notice how different Barentsburg is from Longyearbyen. Everything here happens around the entrance of the coalmine, and there is very little commercial activity available to visitors. You are invited to see a lively culture show or you can visit the hotel or the museum.
We will continue even further north to North West Spitsbergen National Park and towards the second biggest fjord system on the West coast of Spitsbergen; Kongsfjorden/Krossfjorden. Come ashore and enjoy the winter scenery that is beyond imagination.
As we cruise south, we will try to make another stop at Bjørnøya - at a different place this time.
After exploring Spitsbergen we head back to the Norwegian mainland. Arriving North Cape from the north is something very few people will experience. We will pay a visit to Gjessværstappan, a bird cliff that will be teeming with spring breeding arctic species in a cacophony of sound.
When you disembark in Tromsø, you will feel like a polar hero. Being back in civilization again will be a great contrast to the expedition you have just experienced.
Ice cave tourExcursion Spitsbergen (0 Hour) From £ 82
Dog sledding in BolterdalenExcursion Spitsbergen (0 Hour) From £ 139
Snowmobile tour to the TempelfjordExcursion Spitsbergen (0 Hour) From £ 226
Historical walk in the world’s northernmost fishing villageExcursion Norwegian coast, Skarsvåg (4 Hours)
Hornvika, North Cape ClassicExcursion Norwegian coast, Skarsvåg (0 Hour) From £ 103
Snowmobile tour Camp BarentzExcursion Spitsbergen (0 Hour) From £ 164
Longyearbyen - Visit to Camp BarentzExcursion Spitsbergen (3 hours) From £ 154
Longyearbyen - The Life of a MinerExcursion Spitsbergen (2 hours) From £ 103
Longyearbyen - Taste of SvalbardExcursion Spitsbergen (1,5 hours) From £ 92
Longyearbyen - Summer Dog SleddingExcursion Spitsbergen (4 hours) From £ 143
Longyearbyen - Hike to Blomsterdalshøgda and the Global Seed VaultExcursion Spitsbergen (3 hours) From £ 92
Longyearbyen - Fossil hunting at Longyear GlacierExcursion Spitsbergen (3 hours) From £ 92
Longyearbyen - Panorama Tour by BikeExcursion Spitsbergen (1,5 hours) From £ 72
Longyearbyen - Discover LongyearbyenExcursion Spitsbergen (1 hour) From £ 57
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