Small Group Safari

Women of the Arctic: Polar Bear Explorer with Kate Humble

Be one of just 16 women to join us on board the M/S Freya as part of our groundbreaking trip to explore the High Arctic on a female-led and female-guided trip to explore Svalbard.

Duration 11 days
Price From $11,963
When Aug 2019
Destination Svalbard

Safari Overview

Join NWS in Svalbard for a female-led and female-guided trip to the High Arctic, on board the M/S Freya. The concept for this trip, celebrating the strong women at the top of a male-dominated industry, came about last year as we were in the process of hiring our expedition team for the upcoming season. Women are still underrepresented in polar expeditions due to the majority of senior positions being held by men, making it difficult for women to advance their careers. We wanted to show what women could do!

We brought together a team of fantastic women, all more than qualified to lead a trip to Svalbard and to show you how women can kick ass in a male-dominated industry. Joining our three intrepid expedition leaders is Kate Humble, herself a strong woman who has succeeded in making a name for herself in another industry with a male bias. Kate journeyed to Svalbard with us in 2018, and has also spent time in Arctic Canada, presenting as the only female in an otherwise male team, live from the freezing tundra surrounding Churchill. Kate is passionate about climate change, has explored some of the most remote and wonderful reaches of the planet, and will be on board to talk you through her career as a television presenter, writer and traveller.

Join us on board the M/S Freya as one of just 16 women to be part of this landmark trip. Bring your sisters, mothers, daughters or friends, and celebrate what women can do at the top of the world!

Kate Humble & Natural World Safaris

In July 2018, we were lucky enough to have veteran BBC presenter Kate Humble join us as specialist leader on one of our Svalbard Polar Bear Explorer expeditions, on board the M/S Freya. Kate’s passion for wildlife and the natural world has seen her feature in a cavalcade of much-loved television programmes like Springwatch and Animal Park, while she also involves herself in charity work for a number of conservation organisations, from the RSPB to the Marine Conservation Society.

Upon returning from her trip, Kate shared the following words with us:

”As you know, the beauty of great wildlife encounters is that they are unpredictable, and although knowledge and experience of a place can up your chances, there are no guarantees. The first talk I did for the guests was absolutely about that – that even with a BBC Natural History team, cameras, specialist guides and equipment, there is no certainty that you are going to find what you are looking for, and even if you do, see it doing something that is interesting enough to film. But the combination of knowledge of both the landscape, and the ice, with some luck, and a flexible itinerary, meant we not only saw over 30 polar bears throughout the trip, we also witnessed some really wonderful behaviour.

It was this that made our Svalbard safari a completely stand-out wildlife-watching experience.

What Makes This Trip Extraordinary

Polar exploration has, historically, been a man’s game. Heroic figures like Sir Ernest Shackleton and Captain Robert Falcon Scott loom large in the history books, their deeds and sacrifices the stuff of legend. Antarctica was the last frontier for explorers in the early 20th century, the last land to be mapped and charted; indeed, the continent was often thought of as a woman, ready to be conquered by any man who possessed the requisite strength, skill and courage to subdue this icebound mistress.

In the century since Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole, women have distinguished themselves as polar scientists, guides and expedition leaders, proving their mettle while working in some of the most inhospitable places on earth. However, despite these great strides, polar tourism remains a male-dominated industry.

Something needed to change. Our Women of the Arctic expedition is a female-led and female-guided trip to Svalbard – something no other Arctic tour operator is doing or, indeed, has ever done.

The brainchild of our Head of Polar Product, Lorna Griggs – a veteran of Arctic and Antarctic travel herself – this expedition gives a vital platform to a team of phenomenal women who have the odds stacked against them. As most expedition staff are men, it is harder to accommodate women on polar ships due to the need for same sex cabins; and as the majority of senior expedition roles are already occupied by men, chances to progress as a female expedition leader are few and far between.

Outside of these factors, there is no reason why female guides, who endure the same freezing conditions and face the same logistical dilemmas as their male counterparts, can’t lead a group of travellers on a kickass polar adventure.

The Women of the Arctic expedition celebrates strong, inspirational women taking on leading roles in the most hostile of environments. We hope to create a conversation around the challenges faced by women in the Polar Regions, the barriers that have yet to be overcome, and what must be done in order for this “ice ceiling” to finally be shattered.


Day by day

Day 1

Arrive Longyearbyen

Today you will arrive in Longyearbyen, ready to board your expedition ship in the afternoon. Meet Kate and your fellow passengers, settle in, and set sail through the spectacular fjords of the Svalbard Archipelago on the adventure of a lifetime!

Overnight: M/S Freya D

Days 2-10

Exploring Svalbard

Spend your time exploring Svalbard in search of wildlife and spectacular scenery. Your expedition team will be on hand to teach you about the wildlife you encounter along the way, as you explore ice-filled fjords, witness bird cliffs with colonies of seabirds numbering in the tens of thousands, and search for the mighty polar bear hunting along the shores and pack ice. Your exact itinerary will depend on the weather conditions, the density or scarcity of the pack ice, and the wildlife-viewing opportunities. You may spend time hiking across the green tundra in search of Arctic fox and reindeer, enjoying zodiac cruises around huge glaciers and icebergs, or simply watching for whales and bears from the deck of the Freya. Throughout your journey you will be exploring with a fantastic group of women and making history at the same time.

Overnight: M/S Freya B, L, D

Day 11

Depart Longyearbyean

After arriving back into Longyearbyen overnight, you’ll disembark the ship after breakfast and say your farewells. Depending on the time of your flight, you may have a little time in town to buy some last-minute souvenirs before you begin your journey home.

Trip Details

This Trip

This is a small group wildlife expedition. The M/S Freya is a small and intimate ship perfect for exploring the icy shores of the Svalbard Archipelago, ensuring your proximity to wildlife-rich areas of interest. Carrying a maximum of just 16 passengers, the size and maneuverability of your expedition ship allows for unrivalled up-close encounters with Arctic wildlife, including the mighty polar bear. In keeping with the spirit of the expedition, this departure is reserved exclusively for female guests.

Dates and Prices

2019 Departures

 Date   Cabin  Price 
Aug 10 - 20  Twin (Private)  £9,495 

Our Women of the Arctic expedition is just one way for you to explore the stunning Svalbard Archipelago in 2019. Our intimate ship charters on board the M/S Freya and M/V Kinfish focus on sightings of the amazing polar bear and other Arctic wildlife. Various dates are available on our Svalbard Polar Bear Explorer expeditions from May – August 2019.

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Your Next Steps

Talk to one of our specialists for further details on our Svalbard safaris.

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