$ 4,530.00 (double occupancy)
If you crave the return of spring with its blossoming trees, warmth, and chirping birds, you should consider a classical journey along the Norwegian coast in summer. An expedition to the High Arctic brings you to latitudes where spring is more winter-like than the deepest winter in most of Europe. Wherever we go ashore, you’ll have the pleasure of leaving footprints in snow and ice. In Spitsbergen, there is midnight sun while the winter still reigns – a unique combination that you will experience nowhere else on Earth.
Tromsø is 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 with navigational experience from polar seas. He needed men who knew how to survive with minimal means in the Arctic, men who had survived in Svalbard by trapping and hunting. Today Tromsø is home to people with the most experience and competence in polar operations and the academics that investigate global warming in the Arctic. It is also a melting pot with indigenous people, local people, and people from all over Europe. Tromsø is a natural starting point for several expeditions heading north – just like the one you are about to experience.
Bjørnøya, with a population of 9 people, is very isolated and the southernmost island of the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. This small island is known for having a large concentration of seabirds. This is where the cold waters from the Arctic Ocean meet 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 the 126 different bird species living here. We will try to make a landing here.
Traveling 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 gives birth to its offspring, making it a perfect hunting ground for polar bears.
Within the Svalbard Archipelago there are about 3,000 polar bears, likely the largest concentration on Earth. Here, there are more polar bears than humans. Polar bears are solitary animals with no set colony or living area. Only the pregnant females use denning areas during winter. It is more likely to observe this marine mammal on the drift ice, close to the ocean or in the ocean. We often observe polar bears on this itinerary – although not every day and seldom at very close range. But keep an eye out! The more eyes scouting through binoculars, the higher the chances of observing the King of the Arctic.
The climate in Spitsbergen is mild considering its location. Longyearbyen, as one of the northernmost settlements in the world, benefits from the Golf Stream. Try great winter experiences such as dog sledding, ice caving, and snowmobiling.
You will certainly notice how different Barentsburg is from Longyearbyen. Everything here happens around the entrance of the coal mine, 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 toward 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 travel south, we will try to make another stop at Bjørnøya - although at a different location this time.
After exploring Spitsbergen we head back to the Norwegian mainland. Arriving at the 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 and creating 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.