The Spitsbergen archipelago is full of fjords to explore, with each inlet revealing historical mining settlements, magnificent glaciers and a wealth of wildlife inhabiting the tundra. A voyage on one of our ships takes you around the coastline, stopping at places where you can go ashore and walk around, or survey the area on a zodiac-boat cruise.
As specialists in travel to this area, we firmly believe that our clients benefit hugely from smaller group travel on specialist expedition ships, led by experts. It is through small, intimate and like-minded groups that knowledge is better transferred, which results in a much more enjoyable and informative experience for all involved. Some of the smaller but very well-equipped expedition ships throughout this region operate with a low maximum capacity of just 12 passengers. Due to the size of these expedition ships, our Svalbard expeditions are able to access some of the more pristine and wilderness regions of the frozen Arctic, further north to the pack ice and some of the polar bears' favourite hideouts. The ships we use all provide comfortable surroundings and private facilities making for the most comfortable voyage possible, both whilst out exploring and also at night when relaxing back on the ship.
For further information on what wildlife you can see in Svalbard, what you should pack, whether you can see the Northern Lights, etc., please visit our Svalbard Frequently Asked Questions page. If you would like to book a safari to Svalbard, or would like more detail, please get in touch with our resident experts who are more than happy to assist you.
We only use small ships, meaning we can navigate further north to the polar bears' favourite spots.
Spitsbergen and the Seasons
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.