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Svalbard Wildlife Holidays

Whilst the polar bear is undoubtedly a highlight of any Svalbard wildlife safari, there is also a surprising myriad of other Arctic wildlife, despite the harsh cold weather.

Polar Bears & all you need to know!

It is thought that there are around 3,000 wild polar bears in Svalbard, even exceeding the human population. With numbers steadily increasing over the past few decades, the mighty King of the Arctic can be most often seen prowling the pack ice in search of prey. Extremely intelligent; these great white bears have adapted remarkably well to their icy Arctic environment where temperatures can plunge down to -45 degrees. Their characteristic silhouette of a long neck and narrow nose assist them in seizing prey from holes, while their 12-inch paws distribute their immense weight over thinning ice, and act as paddles and rudders whilst swimming.

The world’s largest land carnivore remains relatively fearless of humans, and even though they are still tricky to spot – despite their huge size! - your chances of a polar bear encounter on one of our specialist expeditions remains high, and by travelling on board one of our small ships, you can get closer to the polar bear’s habitat for intimate encounters than by any other means. As a proud member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), Natural World Safaris work to preserve the polar bear's habitat on every safari adhering to strict regulations on wildlife and environmental regulations and interaction. Our aim is always to leave as small a footprint as possible whilst providing the best possible experience for our wildlife loving clients. Read more about Polar bears here.

Drew Doggett


A variety of whales exist surprisingly in the cold waters of Svalbard so keep your eyes out as they are all to see. Species include humpbacks – highly migratory whales that are renowned for their beautiful songs and intelligence, huge blue whales – feeding mainly on krill but still being the largest animal on the planet, fin whales - that are sleek and fast even though they are the world’s second largest animal, then there are the smallest minke whales and of course the beautiful belugas that hang out in pods of 20-25 individuals, all glossy and white and polar beautiful. Obviously sightings vary year on year, but this season we managed to observe alongside belugas for an hour or two, and even spent an couple of hours or two in a blue whale and humpback feeding frenzy.


Home to a plethora of birds, 237 different species can be found on Svalbard. Look out for the instantly recognisable and unique Atlantic puffins of Svalbard that have huge, colourful beaks and a peculiar but amusing walk, often seen swimming across the surface of the water, before propelling themselves down to feed on small fish beneath the surface – definitely a highlight! Observe the Brünnich’s guillemots colonies at the Alkefjellet bird cliffs and watch the Arctic Terns reach their Arctic breeding grounds for summer, before they head south to Antarctica for the summer there. All unexpected highlights of a Svalbard wildlife holiday.

Bearded Seal

These solitary creatures can be spotted relaxing on passing ice floes, they have white whiskers on their face which are supremely sensitive, helping them to find food in the ocean. Easy to recognise – for polar bears too! - , their body looks too big for its front flippers.

Svalbard Reindeer

The northernmost herbivorous mammal in the world, the smallest of all reindeer is endemic to the region. Males grow their antlers between April and July before shedding their velvet in August, whilst the females’ antlers grow in June and maintain throughout the year. These are absolutely stunning creatures and a pleasure to get up close to and photograph in their natural habitat; if you are in luck you may even spot them in the town of Longyearbyen on arrival.


Inhabiting shallow coastal waters and instantly recognisable from their huge tusks, the walrus has large flippers and a fetching moustache. Often found in large herds lounging around in their chosen haul-out site, their ‘dominance’ displays are impressive and quite common. Weighing in at an impressive 1,500kg, the walruses can be spotted hauling themselves up onto the shores or ice using their large canine teeth, after feeding on molluscs at the bottom of the shallow waters. Thanks to conservation efforts walrus numbers are also on the increase and are now estimated at around 2,000. Whilst most people gravitate to polar bears, spend time admiring these giants of the ocean, whilst they may smell a bit, they are amazingly picturesque in their size and grandeur.

Arctic Fox

The hardy but adorable-looking Arctic Fox can survive extreme temperatures and have a distinctive thick white fur coat in the winter. In the summer their coat sheds to brown, helping them stay camouflaged. Spot them inland, stalking smaller rodents, and at sea, where they feast on marine creatures. Arctic fox are one of our personal favourites as they trot the snowy shoreline looking for titbits, always nervous in their demeanour but inquisitive at the same time. And if you see fox…insider knowledge knows that there are often polar bears not far off…