Often referred to by the name of its largest island, Spitsbergen, Svalbard forms part of Norway and, with just 3,000 inhabitants, has a very small population. The main cause of this is the harsh weather conditions - in the winter months, thick ice and snow carpets the archipelago, covering up to 60% of its surface. The name Spitsbergen derives from the Dutch for ‘Jagged Peaks’ after the islands were discovered by explorer Willem Barentzs in 1596, whilst finding a route to the Far East.
The best time to see polar bears in Svalbard is usually in the summer months, as the ice encompassing the archipelago melts enough for us to navigate the icy waters. At this time, the midnight sun reigns over the dramatic landscapes, casting an ever-glowing, ambient light on your astonishing surroundings. We can also extend this out into the autumn, when the midnight sun is replaced by some fascinating sunsets. During this time, the forbidding conditions are augmented with bright flora, melt-waterfalls bursting through glaciers, and lonely icebergs.
A variety of Arctic wildlife is there to be encountered on your frozen adventure, including walrus, seals, seabirds and puffins.
Your daily forays into this stunning Arctic wilderness will provide a variety of unique and colourful discoveries along the way.