Realm of the Polar Bear – Expedition
|Realm of the Polar Bear - Expedition
Starting in Longyearbyen, we leave civilisation behind. Our aim is to sail this remote polar region in order to experience the arctic wilderness, drift ice, flora and fauna. The further north that we sail, the more ice we will meet, and this ice will gradually build up into large ice floes with seals resting on them. This is polar bear country, where the bears hunt for food and you will have the chance of seeing the ‘King of the Arctic’ in his natural habitat.
Search for polar bears – the King of the Arctic is often seen patrolling the ice in search of food
Day 1 Join trip in Longyearbyen
Arrive in Longyearbyen, the largest settlement on the Svalbard archipelago. The town has a population of 2,060 people and about as many snowmobiles! Longyearbyen is located at 7813N 1533E and has an arctic tundra climate. Due to its location far north of the polar circle, it experiences polar night from mid-October to mid-February and polar day from mid-April to mid-August.
Arrive before 2pm on the first day of the tour. An arrival transfer is included if arriving in on day one of the itinerary. Upon arrival into Longyearbyen airport (LYR) please collect your luggage and look for a representative in the Arrivals Hall, holding a sign with your name on it. If you have booked your flights independently, please make sure that you have advised us of your arrival flight details, so that a transfer is booked for you. Be sure to keep all of your important documents – i.e. passport and travel insurance, and also your medication in your hand luggage, as your main luggage will be transferred separately to the ship.
There are no activities planned today so you will have time to visit the town before embarkation commences at 4pm. Perhaps you might choose to explore the town and the few shops that are located in its small centre. If you have extra time in Longyearbyen, we would recommend a visit to the Svalbard Museum, or take a tour of the Svalbard Brewery or Coal Mine Number Three. For longer stays, it’s worth pre-booking the Northern Lights dinner at nearby Camp Barentz.
Day 2 Around Spitsbergen
Each day will be planned to take advantage of local ice and weather conditions. Distances are relatively short in the archipelago and as there are no ocean crossings, so the seas are normally calm. Svalbard is one of the few places on the planet that offers such a wealth and diversity of natural and cultural history sites. During the next six days we will visit ice covered seas, fjords with breathtaking mountain scenery and glaciers flowing into the sea around us. We will spend time steaming through the ice in search of polar bears, hunting for seals. Ivory gulls will be a highlight for keen birders, while we keep a constant lookout for walrus hauled out on ice floes or on sandy beaches.
Krossfjord, Konigsfjord, Monaco Glacier, Edgeoya, Hornsund and Bellsund, are just a few of the places that we may visit, depending on ice and weather. We hope to cruise in zodiacs along the ice edge, viewing seals, walrus or polar bears and in fjords with glaciers spilling down to the sea. We’ll enjoy spectacular seabird cliffs from the edge of a Zodiac, as well as walks on shore, enjoying the arctic flora and fauna. Being in the land of the polar bear, your expedition staff will carry rifles and flare guns on shore for your protection. We take on an expedition spirit by not having a set itinerary and are free to take advantage of the best that Svalbard has to offer.
Day 3 Around Spitsbergen
Whilst people are initially drawn to this region for polar bears, Spitsbergen also has a prolific birdlife on offer. Enjoy the spectacular bird cliffs, filled with thousands of murres (guillemots), as well as kittiwakes and glaucous gulls and soak up the sound of these chirping, feathered creatures. A little auk colony will also be on our agenda.
Day 4 Around Spitsbergen
The Svalbard region is a land of history: from whaling to reaching for the pole, to trapping, coal mining and war. There is some evidence of the whaling industry on some of the landings and the on-board lectures, will give you a bit more insight into the history of this region.
Day 5 Around Spitsbergen
We will spend time in Zodiacs, cruising around the iceflows and may encounter some lounging walrus, with their young. There will be more landings, with different options for walks to suit all members of the group. The walks are normally divided into slow, medium and fast paced groups and depending on whether you want to take photographs near the beachfront, or hike up to the highest point, you can vary which option you choose each day.
Day 6 Around Spitsbergen
Catch a glimpse of an arctic fox, roaming on the tundra. We also hope to see Svalbard’s unique subspecies of reindeer. They are much smaller than their southern relatives, but still carry impressive antlers.
Day 7 Around Spitsbergen
After our last full day of adventure, soaking up the sights of the Arctic wilderness, we will anchor off Longyearbyen in the evening and enjoy our final night aboard the ship, recounting tales of our week-long adventure.
Day 8 Trip ends in Longyearbyen
The trip ends after breakfast on board the ship at approximately 8am.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time and you will receive a complimentary transfer at the end of your trip. For those on morning flights, a transfer will take you directly to Longyearbyen Airport (LYR). For those on later flights, you will be transferred to the luggage storage point at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel and given time to explore the town, before being transferred to the airport later in the day to meet onward flight schedules. Transfer times will be confirmed and communicated on board the ship, prior to disembarkation. Luggage storage at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel will be available until the time of departure.
Due to restrictive airline schedules of flights departing Longyearbyen, we are pleased to offer an early morning disembarkation and transfer to the airport for any passengers with flights departing Longyearbyen around 2.30am (depending on airline schedules).