Svalbard: The Spectacular Season So Far

Megan Seltzer

24 Jun 2022

Our Svalbard season has so far marked an incredible beginning to a year precedented by fantastic wildlife encounters and the formation of life-long friendships. Each time the M/V Kingfish sails into the port at Longyearbyen, we are reminded of the joy that these safaris bring and the opportunity of delight that is only formed from a trip to the top of the world. 

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From Beluga whales to mighty walrus, from tiny snowflakes resting on coats to mighty glaciers calving in the stark whiteness of snowstorms, Svalbard is a destination of stories new and old, and a place so much more than polar bears!

In this blog post, we've chosen some of our favourite images from the current season, shot by our specialist leaders Benjamin Hardman and Andy Mann. Each image is accompanied by a quote manifested from the glowing feedback our recent trips to the ice world that we have been lucky enough to receive from the past few weeks and experiences collected from our trip logs to serve as a recollection of these incredible journeys.  

Whether you've journeyed to Svalbard with us before or are looking forward to your first experience in the Arctic archipelago, we hope that this photographic journey serves as inspiration for your next expedition.

8May 4

"This trip exceeded even the highest of expectations. First and foremost, we had two incredible expedition leaders: Hadleigh and Mats made the trip enjoyable and educational with stories accumulated over decades of experience. Their hours and hours of dedicated scouting from behind binoculars paid off with great wildlife sightings. A particular highlight for me was sitting in a scree below a massive nesting sight of little auks, watching thousands of them take off at once and fly over us. It was a magical moment that I will probably never experience again, and I am very grateful to Hadleigh for taking us to this specific spot. We also have to give a shoutout to the wonderful crew of the MS Polarfront - every single member of the crew made our trip an absolute joy, with smiles and laughter all day long (and the midnight sun ensured that the days were long!). As nature and wildlife lovers, we are always looking for travel opportunities to wild places. After this experience we are convinced that NWS is the expedition specialist to work with for more exclusive, difficult to reach areas of the world. The whole experience with NWS was flawless and stress free. It was truly unforgettable - thank you NWS!"

– Nadia D. 

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Late morning, we spotted a bear on the distant shore so we dropped Zodiacs and went to see if we could get a closer look. Unfortunately, the bear remained distant and so we returned to Kinfish. However, with other ships moving away we decided to explore Borebukta and see what secrets we could uncover, with the hope of catching an up-close bear encounter.

As we slowly cruised into sunny calm Borebukta all the other ships melted away. We cruised the ice edge and suddenly the bear appeared.We watched from a nice distance, the pale cream of the bear contrasting beautifully with the dark grey newly-formed sea ice. As the bear meandered towards and away from us, we chose to position ourselves at a good ice edge some distance away near some walrus.

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"The Arctic expedition exceeded any possible expectations and the guides were key to the amazing results we obtained in our final photographs. We were very lucky and had many wildlife encounters, to which the guides helped us get as close as allowed considering the light and composition conditions that would help us best in our photography process. Very thankful for that and all the stories they shared with us along the way. I really enjoyed my visit to Svalbard!"

– Sofia S

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Two polar bears had been sighted lying in day dens, small beds of snow the bears and somewhat excavated for comfort, on the north side of Indre Norskøya. We were patient with our venture, and as we joined the boats there was activity from both bears. Watching their careful choreography, presumed to mirror the hierarchy instilled to avoid conflict was extremely interesting. The evening light was at its lowest and both animals appeared truly golden.

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"I had the most amazing time with NWS in Svalbard; the expedition leaders Mats and Hadleigh were great and got us really close to the wildlife and landscapes - the bear encounters were incredible (close and were able to watch them for literal hours demonstrating all sorts of behaviours), as were the opportunities to see walruses, seals, foxes and all sorts of birdlife."

– Lauren T

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The temperature rose to 6 degrees Celcius as we were treated to dozens of snow buntings, barnacle geese and a group of curious reindeer who crossed our path several times. We were impressed with the group of skiers who zigzagged to the top of a peak across the fjord and on our return, watched a small avalanche cause rumbling lava-like snow.

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Want to explore Svalbard with Natural World Safaris? Spaces are already selling out on our 2022 and 2023 Svalbard Polar Bear Explorer expeditions. Each one of our 12 departures next year will take place aboard the M/V Kinfish, with professional photographers Benjamin Hardman, Graeme PurdyDrew Doggettand Andrew James each leading their own trip. Click here for more information about this thrilling itinerary.

Kate Waite, Svalbard

Your Next Steps

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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