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adventure travel trip to Arctic
  • Jun 26-Jul 6, 2015
  • Aug 4-14, 2015
  • Duration 11 days
    Group Size 112
    Land Cost $5,995-$11,795 Details
    Single Supplement $5,317 Details
    Lodging 2 stars-3 stars
    Grade I-II
    Best Time

    Spitsbergen Explorer: Classic Arctic

    Explore the Svalbard Archipelago Aboard the Sergey Vavilov or Sea Spirit

    Day 1      Embarkation: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen

    You fly into Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen Island, the main settlement of Svalbard. The islands of Svalbard, including the largest, Spitsbergen, are glacier-topped mountains that rise from Arctic waters sprinkled with ice floes. Your first view will be from the air as you fly into Longyearbyen. Depending on your airline schedule, you may have some time to visit the museums and investigate the shops in this town of just over a thousand inhabitants.

    You will be met at Longyearbyen Airport or the meeting point, the Radisson SAS Polar Hotel, and transferred to the pier, in time to board your ship. Once on board, your expedition team will make introductions and provide an overview of the journey to come. You’ll set sail from Longyearbyen in the evening.

    Meals: Dinner

    Day 2-4      Western Spitsbergen

    Your expedition is spent exploring the coast, moving generally in a clockwise direction. There will be ample time for shore excursions where you can simply sit on the beach and take it all in, or enjoy energetic hiking, wildlife spotting, or stunning zodiac cruises.

    Since the itinerary is difficult to predict due to ever-changing ice conditions, we have provided some samples of possible excursions you may undertake. You won’t have time to visit all these spots, but no matter where you end up, it’s guaranteed that your explorations will be extraordinary. You may also visit locations not named, should their beauty or interest warrant it.

    This is an almost certain destination. Lying on the west coast of Spitsbergen, we’ll drop anchor before breakfast in the 14th of July Glacier. Following a briefing on landing procedures and polar bear precautions, you’ll board zodiacs and cruise near the glacier's spectacular ice-cliff face.

    Later, you’ll visit the settlement of Ny Ålesund, one of the northernmost communities in the world. Ny Ålesund serves as a base station for international Arctic research, with a population of approximately eighty scientists and support staff. Everyone will have a chance to visit the station shop, where you can send mail from the most northerly mailbox in the world!

    Bird-watchers should see Arctic terns, Arctic and long-tailed skuas, purple sandpipers and chicks, common eiders, barnacle geese, long-tailed ducks, kittiwakes, glaucous gulls, and snow buntings. Reindeer are often seen on the periphery of the community.

    You’ll get a taste of some remarkable Arctic history as you stand near the mast used by the famous airships Norge and Italia. The Norwegian Roald Amundsen used the Norge in 1926 to fly over the North Pole from Ny Ålesund to Alaska. A few days earlier an American named Richard Byrd had also undertaken the journey and later returned claiming to have reached the pole before Amundsen.

    Next, it was the Italian’s turn. Umberto Nobile decided to mount an airship expedition from Ny Ålesund with the Italia in 1928. However, this ended in disaster when the airship crashed on the pack-ice north of Spitsbergen. Many expeditions were sent out to find and rescue Nobile and his crew, including Roald Amundsen, who disappeared during the search.

    Meals: Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners

    Day 5-8      Smeerenburg and Beyond

    There's another history lesson in Smeerenburg, located on the northwest corner of Spitsbergen. Also known as Blubber Town, Smeerenburg was a settlement of Dutch whalers in the first half of the 17th century. We’ll explain the whaling techniques that were used in the 1630s when almost 200 whalers spent the summers here. Blubber ovens, whalebones, and other remnants can be observed in the shadow of the mountain that Basque whalers used as a lookout point for the bow head whale.

    The temperature drops as we continue northward, crossing 80° N, 965 km (600 miles) from the North Pole. Polar bear and walrus are known to inhabit the waters around this small archipelago, the most northerly in Svalbard!

    We may drop anchor near the small island of Ækongen, Tusenøyane in the Thousand Islands. Once on shore, you’ll quietly approach a small pond inhabited by several pairs of red-throated divers. You’ll also see a bow head whale skeleton that has been reconstructed on the beach, giving us a sense of the mammal’s gigantic size. Other bones, including walrus and polar bear skulls, may also be found littering the lower part of the island.

    Meals: Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners

    Day 9-10      Bourbonhamna

    Beluga whales often transit the narrow sound near Bourbonhamna. The adults are pure white and the younger animals a mottled grey color. They are the only whales that can articulate their heads to nod and turn sideways. It’s estimated that there are approximately five to ten thousand belugas in the Svalbard population. The beluga has no dorsal fin, unlike other whale species that live in the high Arctic, such as the narwhal and bow-head. Since a dorsal fin could be damaged when the animal surfaces in areas with ice, it is thought that the lack of dorsal fin is an adaptation to living in waters that are frequently covered by ice.

    You’ll search for the belugas, and then hopefully go ashore to Bourbonhamna. A hunter’s cabin, grinding wheel, and two overturned boats are points of interest a short walk away at Ingebrigstenbukta. However, the massive piles of beluga whalebones are the real attention-getters. The bones and all the artifacts are protected by the Svalbard Government and can’t be removed. While wandering amongst these bone relics, you can also expect to glimpse dozens of reindeer in the area.

    Meals: Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners

    Day 11      Longyearbyen/Onward

    You conclude your journey, arriving back in Longyearbyen early this morning. After breakfast, you will disembark from the ship and be transferred to either the your Longyearbyen hotell or the airport.

    Meals: Breakfast

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