Small Group Safari

Circumnavigating Spitsbergen

Explore the Spitsbergen Archipelago by expedition ship on your specialist-led trip in search of polar bears, whales and walruses.

Duration 10 days
Price From $4,743
When Jul 2019 & Jun - Aug 2020
Destination Svalbard

Safari Overview

Arrive in Longyearbyen and board your expedition ship, your home for your upcoming adventure. Arrive into Krossfjorden the next morning for your first zodiac landing. From here you spend the rest of your trip exploring the far reaches of the Arctic, watching for wildlife, walking on the land and experiencing some of Svalbard’s history. The safari takes you to some of the most impressive landscapes imaginable from tundra islands home to pink-footed geese, glaciers that play home to polar bears and towering mountain peaks.

What makes this trip extraordinary

  • Completely circumnavigate the icy archipelago of Svalbard via your ice-strengthened expedition ship – the M/V Plancius or M/V Ortelius.
  • Encounter polar bears as you venture further north into their habitat.
  • Explore ice caps, Arctic beaches and vast glaciers via ship, zodiac and on foot.
  • Discover some of Svalbard’s famous culture and history

Take in your breath-taking surroundings and look out for Arctic wildlife on your journey.

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Day by day

Day 1

Arrive Longyearbyen

Arrive in Longyerbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen Archipelago. Before embarking your chosen ship there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.

Day 2

Spitsbergen Archipelago

Heading north along the west coast, arrive this morning into Krossfjorden where you’ll take your first zodiac cruise along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, a colourful variety of flowers bloom, while large numbers of kittiwakes and Brunnich’s guillemots nest on the nearby cliffs. There is also a good chance of spotting Arctic foxes who patrol the base of the cliffs for falling chicks and bearded seals who cruise the fjord. In the afternoon set sail for Ny Alesund, the world’s most northerly settlement. Once a mining village - served by the world’s most northerly railway - Ny Alesund is now a research centre. Close to the village is a breeding ground for barnacle geese, pink-footed geese and Arctic terns. Those interested in the history of Arctic exploration will want to walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile in the airship Norge in 1926 and Nobile in the airship Italia in 1928 before their flights to the North Pole.

Day 3

Spitsbergen Archipelago

Near the mouth of Liefdefjorden, land ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andoya. Look out for Arctic birdlife such as common eiders and pink-footed geese before cruising near the face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favourite feeding spot thousands of kittiwakes and polar bears are occasionally seen on the glacier.

Day 4

Spitsbergen Archipelago

Today you’ll reach the northernmost point at Phippsoya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. Here, at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole you will have the chance of encountering polar bears and ivory and Ross’s gulls. Once you have all fully taken in the spectacular surroundings you will turn south continue your journey.

Day 5

Spitsbergen Archipelago

Today you will visit Laagoya, a low island with a large lagoon where a big herd of walrus tend of congregate as well as nesting Sabine’s gulls. At Sorg Fjord another herd of walrus gather, not far from the graves of 17th century whalers. During a nature walk you may also encounter families of ptarmigans.

Day 6

Spitsbergen Archipelago

This morning you’ll sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded seals, ringed seals and the Kings of the Arctic - polar bears. Your crew will navigate through the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots.

Day 7

Spitsbergen Archipelago

Today’s plan is to land at Sundneset, located on the island of Barentsøya, to visit an old trapper’s hut and then take a brisk walk across the tundra in search of Spitsbergen reindeer and barnacle geese. Afterwards, return to the ship and cruise south to Diskobukta on the west side of Edgeøya. After a zodiac cruise through the shallow bay, land on a beach littered with whale bones and tree trunks, which have drifted here from Siberia.

Day 8

Spitsbergen Archipelago

Today starts by quietly cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen; enjoying the scenery of towering mountain peaks. Hornsundtind rises to 1,431m while Bautaen shows why early Dutch explorers gave the name ‘Spitsbergen’ (pointed mountains) to the island. There are 14 glaciers in the area and very good chances of encounters with seals and polar bears.

Day 9

Spitsbergen Archipelago

Today you aim to land on Ahlstrandhalvøya at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden. Here, piles of beluga whale skeletons - the remains of 19th century slaughter - are yet another reminder of the consequences of thoughtless exploitation. Fortunately, belugas were not hunted to the edge of extinction and may still be seen locally. Indeed, there is a good chance that you may see a pod today. Cruising into Recherchefjorden during the afternoon you have the chance to explore an area of tundra at the head of the fjord where many reindeer feed.

Day 10

Return to Longyearbyen

Return to Longyearbyen and disembark your ship before catching your transfer to the airport in time to catch your flight back home.

Trip Details

trip information

This is a specialist-led wildlife expedition on board the M/V Plancius or M/V Ortelius. Departing relatively late into the season, you will attempt to completely circumnavigate the Svalbard Archipelago, getting further north than earlier in the season. This is where and when you can find better wildlife and polar bear sightings.

Dates and Prices

2019 Departures

Dates Expedition Ship 
 Jul 3 - 12  M/V Plancius

2020 Departures

Dates Expedition Ship 
 Jun 26 - Jul 5  M/V Ortelius
 Jul 1 - 10  M/V Plancius
 Jul 5 - 14  M/V Ortelius
 Jul 19 - 28  M/V Plancius
 Aug 15 - 24  M/V Plancius

Prices per person exclude the cost of international flights.

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Your Next Steps

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