Spitsbergen Explorer: Wildlife Capital of the Arctic

Duration 11 or 12 days
Departing from
  • Longyearbyen, Norway
  • Oslo, Norway
Starting from $6,995
Adventure Options Sea KayakingPaddling Excursion

Overview

If there is such a thing as a “classic Arctic” expedition cruise, this is it. You’ll get all the best of Spitsbergen, by exploring the western edge of the island and venturing to some northern outlying areas home to polar bears and Walrus. You’ll come across colonies of seabirds numbering into the thousands and watch for whales in the water. Packed with options for snowshoeing and sea-kayaking, this is the perfect expedition for exploring the “wildlife capital of the Arctic".

Spitsbergen Destination Guide

Spitsbergen Destination Guide

Our Spitsbergen destination guide is your best resource for learning everything there is to know about the Realm of the Polar Bear. Visitors can experience some the Arctic’s best outdoor adventure, learn about a rich culture and history, explore Longyearbyen, the world’s northern-most town, and witness the midnight sun in all its glory.

The guide features details about what you can experience on our expeditions, useful travel tips and even a packing checklist.

 

Highlights

  • Encounter iconic arctic wildlife, such as polar bears, walrus and reindeer
  • Take advantage of continuous daylight
  • Hike the tundra and explore the polar desert
  • Cruise in a Zodiac to explore glaciers, fjords, icebergs and more
  • Immerse yourself in the icy realm of the Arctic with optional kayaking adventures

Spitsbergen: Arctic Wildlife Safari

Itineraries

Day 1 — Embarkation Day in Longyearbyen

Your Spitsbergen adventure begins when you board your ship in Longyearbyen, the island’s largest settlement. As you embark, you’ll get great views of the mountainous landscape that serves as a backdrop to this seaside settlement.

Days 2 to 10 — Exploring Spitsbergen

Explore western Spitsbergen as well as stunning fjords and outlying islands to the north. From polar deserts to immense glaciers, the natural landscape here is just as varied as the wildlife. You’ll cruise around this magical island located above the Arctic Circle, and your Expedition Team will be constantly searching for wildlife.

Each expedition presents new opportunities, so we have no fixed itinerary; however, we do hope to visit some of our favorite destinations, including the 14th of July Glacier, Smeerenburg, Phippsøya, Alkhornet and the Hinlopen Straight.

The destinations visited will be selected for optimum wildlife viewing and appreciation of the history and geology of Spitsbergen. Polar bear viewing is almost guaranteed, with Phippsøya being one of their preferred hunting areas, since the towering cliffs of Alkefjellet provide many free bird egg meals for both them and the arctic fox. Torellneset and Phippsøya are great places for walrus photography. Coming across a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t soon forget. These giant pinnipeds of the Arctic create quite a noisy scene as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline.

If you’re itching to get a little closer to the action, you can book the kayaking option and take an excursion to the more isolated pockets of Spitsbergen. Smeerenburg is a great place for snowshoeing (optional and complimentary on select voyages), where you can visit a memorial erected in 1906. This historic site honors the whalers who lost their lives in the 17th and 18th centuries while working in extreme arctic conditions.

There is no shortage of natural beauty in Spitsbergen. The tundra can be surprisingly colorful in summer, with wildflowers bursting for a taste of sunshine. Each day, you’ll see something new, whether it is a rare bird species or an abandoned site from centuries ago.

Day 11 — Disembarkation Day in Longyearbyen

The time to say goodbye has come. Your adventure ends as it began, in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here we’ll transfer you to the airport for your flight home.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy— and excitement—of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.

Day 1 — Arrive in Oslo, Norway

Your Arctic voyage begins in Oslo, Norway’s vibrant capital city. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and green spaces to keep you busy before retiring at your included airport hotel.

Day 2 — Embarkation Day in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

This morning, the group will transfer to the airport and board our private charter flight to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen’s largest settlement, where you’ll have some time to explore before embarkation. As your ship sets sail, enjoy your first view of the island’s rugged, glacier-topped mountains rising majestically from icy waters.

Days 3 to 11 — Exploring Spitsbergen

Explore western Spitsbergen as well as stunning fjords and outlying islands to the north. From polar deserts to immense glaciers, the natural landscape here is just as varied as the wildlife. As you cruise around this magical island located above the Arctic Circle, your Expedition Team will constantly be searching for wildlife. Each expedition presents new opportunities and different weather and ice, so we have no fixed itinerary; however, some of the places we may visit include the 14th of July Glacier, Smeerenburg, Phippsøya, Alkhornet and the Hinlopen Strait. The destinations visited will be selected for optimum wildlife viewing with an appreciation of the history and geology of Spitsbergen.

The island offers multiple opportunities for wildlife photography. Spotting polar bears is more likely here than almost anywhere else, as the Svalbard archipelago is one of their preferred hunting areas.

The towering cliffs of Alkefjellet provide homes to thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres).

Coming across a walrus haul-out is a moment you won’t soon forget. These giant pinnipeds of the Arctic create quite a noisy scene as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline.

If you’re itching to experience a more intimate view from the water, you can book the sea kayaking or paddling excursion adventure options.

In Spitsbergen, there is no shortage of natural beauty. The tundra can be surprisingly colorful in summer, with wildflowers bursting for a taste of sunshine. Each day, you’ll see something interesting, whether it is unique arctic wildlife a polar bear resting between hunts, or abandoned sites from centuries ago.

Day 12 — Disembark in Longyearbyen & fly to Oslo

The time to say goodbye has come. Your arctic adventure ends as it began, in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. From here, we’ll transfer you to the airport for your return group charter flight to Oslo.

Important reminder: Embracing the unexpected is part of the legacy—and excitement—of expedition travel. When traveling in extremely remote regions, your expedition staff must allow the sea, the ice and the weather to guide route and itinerary details. This itinerary is a tentative outline of what you’ll experience on this voyage; please be aware that no specific itinerary can be guaranteed.

Dates and Rates

Departure
Days
Starting from
 
 
May 20 – May 31, 2020
12
$6,995
May 30 – Jun 10, 2020
12
$6,995
Jun 14 – Jun 25, 2020
12
$7,495

Adventure Options

Ramp Up Your Expedition

Reviews

Displaying 4 - 6 of 14

Spectacular Arctic voyage around Svalbard

5

Amazing expedition staff found us spectacular wildlife - everything I was looking for including special Arctic birds - and did a wonderful job educating us as to the ecology, geology, and history of this unique region. The trip leader in particular showed great judgment and instincts in adjusting our itinerary in response to weather and wildlife viewing to ensure we got the most out of our voyage. Really comfortable ship - not too small, definitely not too big - and wonderful food made this the perfect platform to experience the High Arctic. Paddling the inflatable kayaks amidst the crackling ice was very memorable. The team's attention to safety also stood out, as this is a very remote and potentially dangerous locale.

It was a fantastic trip.

5

It was a fantastic trip. The expertise of the staff and the quality of the crew was incredible. We had a a trip of a life time. Thank you

Fantastic combination: Ocean Nova plus Quark expedition team.

5

I sailed with the Quark expedition team on the Ocean Nova in mid-June 2018. The vessel, its Captain, and its operational staff was excellent and maneuvered us to whereever needed to get the best possible experiences. The On board “Hotel” staff was superb providing consistently excellent food and drink choices. The combination of Arctic adventure and world-class fine dining made for an exceptional experience. And, I give the highest possible ratings for the Quark expedition team. Everyone on the team had skills and experiences that qualified them as exceptional guides. We had a New York Times best selling author as our avian specialist, a PhD Geologist with exceptional communication skills to explain Arctic oceanographic processes, glaciology, and the magnificant land forms we observered and explored. We had a PhD mammalogist with humorous and captivating delivery to tell us about the marine mammals we would be looking for and to interpret what we saw. And we had a true expert on Svalbard history to explain the human component of the Svalbard system and how the human history has interacted with both the geophysical and biological components. We even heard a captivating and humorous, talk about the various plankton species (the foundation of the food chain) that careful observers were seeing in the ocean waters. The teams that led Zodiac and Kayak outings were incredibly experienced and skilled, and assured that all passengers, regardless of ability or past experience had safe and pleasant experiences getting in and out of small boats. All members of the team were experienced with the Svalbard system and knew where to look for the various species of wildlife—and they had amazing spotting ability. Our expedition leader was always watching weather and sea ice conditions and had the skill and experience to be sure we took advantage of every opportunity to optimize our observations. Finally, we observed all the major species I expected to see, and we saw first-hand how human caused climate change is dramatically impacting them and this incredible place. I believe everyone on board went home with experiences and observations they never will forget, and with better understandings of why maintaining Svalbard and other Arctic environments is important to the rest of life on earth—including us. All in all, it was a fantastic experience. Steven. C. Amstrup

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