Polar Bear, Svalbard |© Lindsey Lavaysse

Svalbard: An Adventure in the Arctic

Natural World Safaris

Lindsey Lavaysse

04 Dec 2019

Svalbard: An Adventure in the Arctic

Our small group embarked the M/S Freya one by one. As we pulled away from Longyearbyen, each of our phones eventually disconnected from the world and there was a silence that settled in, a detachment.  As time went on, all adjusted and no one missed the constant connection to technology.  Instead, we were now connecting to nature.

Ship in Svalbard |© Lyndsey Lavaysse

While there is nature all around you in regards to landscape, weather, plants and certainly animals, we were also treated to presentations and wildlife stories from our guides. These provided information regarding the environment, the animal species we were sighting, and interesting tales of professions deeply rooted in natural surroundings and wildlife.

Seal in Svalbard |© Lyndsey Lavaysse

Our 10-day expedition in the Arctic was truly an adventure. I woke every morning excited to get up out of bed and head up to the bridge – who knew what today would bring!  Indeed, each day brought something new, we were shockingly lucky to have such unique wildlife experiences playing out in staccato each day.  I have to laugh at myself a bit, as I packed so much reading material and downloaded shows to watch, worried that without internet I might have nothing to do… how naive!  Never once did I crack those open, I was far too preoccupied with the landscapes, spotting animals, or chatting with others on board.  One incredible advantage of this journey NWS puts together is that it seems like-minded individuals all gravitate towards it, likely for a mutual high regard for the opportunity this small tour provides to emerge into the Arctic. Regardless of nationality, age, profession, we all found out quickly that we liked each other!  We got along well and with ease.

Reindeer in Svalbard |© Lyndsey Lavaysse

The excitement of hearing someone pounding on your door at 5:00 in the morning because there are finn whales off the bow of the ship is easily my favorite way to wake up in the morning.  The audible silence that poured over the bow as we watched a beautiful young polar bear that walked towards our ship to check us out is incomparable. If you simply looked someone in the eyes it was obvious that while we were remaining outwardly silent, we were bubbling with excitement inside.  The simple yet thrilling experience of watching as one pile of walrus move to encroach on another walrus pile’s location – was their sea ice better? – reminded me of turf wars in major cities.  Our luck just kept flowing day after day, enough to even see some walrus pups!

Polar Bear, Svalbard |© Lindsey Lavaysse

Each animal sighting is exciting when there is such variety, as there is in the Arctic of Svalbard.  We were excited to see each bird, including the sweet faces of the puffins, and the surprisingly small Arctic fox which we saw both with a brown and white fur coat.  In all, we were fortunate enough to see: polar bears, walruses, foxes, reindeer, a variety of birds, bearded seals, ringed seals, blue whales, finn whales, humpback whales and minke whales.

Whale in Svalbard |© Lyndsey Lavaysse

Not to mention the beautiful glaciers, we got to witness glaciers calving and wonderful hikes where we had the opportunity to really connect with the land. When we pulled back into Longyearbyen harbour and everyone’s phones came alive again, we were solemn and a bit sad, the trip was ending. We didn’t want to say goodbye, nor did anyone miss their phones!  It was a treat to be out in nature with no distractions. I got quite used to spending my days with this group of wonderful people and it felt so strange to part. The group of strangers who embarked only 10 days prior were now a little family of friends.

Walrus in Svalbard |© Lyndsey Lavaysse

Even moments where animals are not drawing your eye, when the scenery takes center stage, are just as loud in your memory. Scenes of ice walls, glacial waterfalls, ice bergs, sheet ice, calving glaciers, and the snow-covered mountains – it goes on and on. Svalbard is a rare beauty.  If you have a deep interest in wildlife, in the Arctic landscape, or in the impacts of our own species on the environment, this trip could be a good fit for you as this trip has so much to offer for any one of these interests.  If you have interest in all of the above, this trip may be one the best you’ll ever take.

Svalbard lanscape |© Lyndsey Lavaysse
Kate Waite, Svalbard

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View our Svalbard safaris, or talk to one of our specialists for more details on travelling to Svalbard. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.

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