Wildlife Group Tour

Spitsbergen - Arctic Expedition Cruise with Monty Halls and Sue Flood

Travel to the Kingdom of the Polar Bear in conjunction with Telegraph Tours

12 days

from £6,450pp
  • The best place in the Arctic to see polar bears in their natural habitat
  • A 12 day high Arctic expedition deep inside the Arctic Circle only 600 miles from The North Pole
  • Travel in the company of marine biologist, Monty Hall and photographer Sue Flood
  • Sail onboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov and access Svalbard's most spectacular sites

Seeing a polar bear in its natural habitat is one of the natural world’s most remarkable sightings. For photographers, capturing images of polar bears can be the fulfilment of a long held ambition and Spitsbergen is the perfect setting for such an endeavour. The wild and dramatic landscape of Spitsbergen provides the perfect backdrop for photographing polar bears and with Sue Flood and Monty Halls at your side, you are guaranteed expert advice to ensure you make the most of every opportunity. While polar bears are the poster boys of the Arctic, Spitsbergen is no one-trick pony. Take zodiac safaris and drift alongside towering glaciers stretching up to seven kilometres wide and eighty metres high; visit expansive cliffs that provide sanctuary to colonies of birds too numerous to count; photograph large herds of walrus on land and in the sea and sit patiently for the perfect moment to photograph exquisite ivory gulls on drift ice.

Days spent exploring Spitsbergen's untamed lanscapes are made all the more poignant by the knowledge that the Arctic and its resident wildlife are overshadowed by the threats associated with climate change. There will be lectures on board that address this issue and you can be sure that our voyage will adhere to strict guidelines of sustainability and be conducted in a manner that is sympathetic to the environment and the wildlife.

When is the best time to visit Spitsbergen

With almost 24 hours of daylight, July is the best time to visit Spitsbergen. As the ice subsides, polar bears take refuge on land and on the edge of large ice floes, where they hunt for seals. Small tundra flowers are in bloom and the abundant birdlife creates a cacophony of noise with chicks keeping parents well occupied.  The Arctic is teeming with wildlife at this time of year – expect to see species such as seals, arctic fox, reindeer, polar bears and whales.

Akademik sergey vavilov – an exceptional expedition ship

Stability, speed, manoeuvrability and a lack of ambient engine noise make the Akademik Sergey Vavilov an exceptional ice-strengthened expedition vessel. The Vavilov may not be the most luxurious ship on the Arctic seas but she is perfectly designed for a voyage of this nature and ideally capped at a maximum of 92 passengers. She has  a range of cabins, from those with shared facilities through to spacious suites while social areas include a dedicated lecture room, lounge, bar and library. The bridge is open to passengers and a great place to watch for wildlife as are the multi-level outside deck areas. A fleet of 10 zodiacs are used for off ship excursions.

An active expedition voyage

While viewing wildlife from the ship can be exhilarating, this voyage is more about time spent off the ship, exploring the Arctic landscape on foot and by zodiac. Daily guided excursions by zodiac cruise along glacier fronts, cliffs and shoreline, searching for polar bear, walrus and beautiful photographic opportunities. There will be plenty of opportunity to feel the Arctic tundra under your feet with guided walks on offer to see bird colonies, glaciers, historic sites and spectacular views.

Expert led voyage

The Vavilov's team of Arctic cruise specialists provide fascinating insight into polar history and the natural world but on our exclusive charter we felt compelled to augment their knowledge with a few of our own experts. Monty Halls is a marine biologist, photographer and explorer whom alongside the ships’ resident experts will give lectures on board and join clients on all excursions. Sue Flood is not only an exceptional photographer, at home in Arctic conditions, she is also an accomplished teacher and will be on hand to help clients take memorable photographs of Svalbard’s wildlife and landscapes.

Departing on:
  • 7th July 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

DEPART UKARRIVE UKPrice Excluding Flights (£)Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
7th Jul 2018 18th Jul 2018 £ 6,450 call call Monty Halls Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All excursions and landings
  • All zodiac cruises and landings
  • Loan of wellington boots, expedition jacket & over trousers
  • Post voyage photographic expedition log
  • Services of expedition staff onboard
  • Services of expedition staff, Monty Halls and Sue Flood
  • Services of special guests Monty Halls & Sue Flood
  • Voyage on a full board basis

what is excluded

  • Drinks, laundry and items of a personal nature
  • Flights to and from Longyearbyen (to be discussed)
  • Pre/post voyage accommodation
  • Tips and gratuities


Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Longyearbyen embarkation
Embark the expedition ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov in Longyearbyen and sail south into the Greenland Sea.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 2

Arrive at Bourbonhamna - well known for the beluga whales that transit the narrow sound. Search for belugas from the ship and the zodiacs and plan our first shore excursion at Bourbonhamna.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 3

Coming around the most southerly point of Spitsbergen, we push into the broad expanse of Storfjorden and step ashore at Dolerittneset where there is a plethora of ancient whalebones. Time and the elements have altered their original shape and sculpted them into works of art that make fascinating photographic subjects.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 4

Returning to the west coast, explore the glacier-filled bay leading into Hornsund. The entire archipelago of Svalbard is a lesson in glaciology and our on-board guides will explain the formation of this fantastic landscape during hikes and zodiac excursions.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 5

14th July Glacier and Krossfjorden
Explore by zodiac the cliffs near the 14th of July Glacier that provide a home to vast bird colonies. Move on to Lilliehook Glacier, stretching seven kilometres across and 80 meters high, at the north-western head of Krossfjorden.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 6

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 7

Continue north and east up into the ice, hoping to cross the 80° north parallel. Bearded seals, ringed seals, walrus, and polar bear may be found hauled out on the edges of the ice. At 81° degrees north latitude, Phippsoya is only 540 nautical miles from the North Pole and is a favoured hunting ground for polar bears.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 8

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 9

Nordaustlandet and Hinlopen Strait
From the ice edge turn south into the main strait separating Svalbard's two main islands: Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. In Hinlopen Strait, the bird cliffs at Alkefjellet are home to more than a hundred thousand breeding Brunnich's guillemots, as well as thousands of kittiwakes and black guillemots. Nearby Murchison Fjord is a wonderful place to kayak or cruise as the ship navigates the waterways between the islands. There are some excellent hiking routes here up to high points with spectacular views and further opportunities to encounter Arctic wildlife.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 10

Enter Leifdefjorden and slowly cruise towards the Monaco Glacier. This vast sweep of ice more than seven kilometers wide provides a fabulous backdrop for a zodiac cruise. Miles of ice face broken up by ice caves and tumbling seracs are an impressive sight as are the thousands of black-legged kittiwakes feeding on the upwelling of rich nutrients found near the sub-glacial outflow. A morning of cruising in the ice is best followed by a hike on the tundra. Red phalaropes, purple sandpipers and vibrant tundra provide plenty of viewing and photography opportunities.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 11

Alkehornet, at the mouth of Isfjord, offers breath-taking views and an incredible tundra walk. Arctic fox can often be seen here, as well as reindeer. Towering above the site is a horn-shaped mount covered in guillemots and kittiwakes. This evening, celebrate the journey with a special dinner attended by the ship's Captain. It's a great time to reflect on a wonderful voyage in this wild and remote place.

You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Day 12

Longyearbyen disembarkation
Arrive back into Longyearbyen this morning and disembark after breakfast.


Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Akademik Sergey Vavilov

Akademik Sergey Vavilov

The Akademik Sergey Vavilov was built in Finland for the Russian Academy of Science in 1989 and was designed to be exceptionally stable, manoeuvrable, fast, quiet and functional like her sister ship the Akademik Ioffe....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Spitsbergen

Roxy Dukes, Travel Expert

"Roxy filled us with enthusiasm and came up with some great ideas for a trip. We liked the idea of a slightly 'off the beaten track experience' and some private bespoke activities and that's exactly what we've had. Thank you!"

"Roxy created a wonderfully interesting route which was the basis for a super trip. She also chose lovely places for us to stay and interesting activities for us to participate in, introducing us to the idea of private guided experiences which we thoroughly enjoyed."

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Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.


Monty Halls

Monty Halls
Monty Halls is a writer, explorer, television presenter, public speaker and President of the Galapagos Conservation Trust. A former Royal Marines officer who worked for Nelson Mandela on the peace process in South Africa, he left the services in 1996 to pursue a career in leading expeditions. Having achieved a First Class Honours degree in marine biology, over the next decade he circumnavigated the globe four times on various projects, leading multi-national teams in some of the most demanding environments on earth. Notable expeditions included an anti poaching project in the high montane grasslands of the Nyika Plateau in northern Malawi, the discovery of a sunken city off the coast of Tamil Nadu in India, and an (successful) attempt to find and photograph a rare crocodile species in the mountain pools of the Raspaculo Basin in Central America. In 2002 he was awarded the Bish Medal by the Scientific Exploration Society for his services to exploration.

Sue Flood

Sue Flood
Your guide on the trip is Sue Flood, a photographer, author, wildlife filmmaker and conservationist. Sue was an Associate Producer on the award winning BBC series 'The Blue Planet', and also more recently worked on Planet Earth. Both The Blue Planet and Planet Earth featured several animal behaviours which were filmed for the first time, and Sue obtained unique images for the series. Her photographic highlights include diving with humpback whales in the South Pacific, face-to-face encounters with leopard seals in the Antarctic, filming polar bears in the Arctic, and photographing the wildlife of Zambia. More than all of this Sue is great fun to be with and while you will doubtless hone your photographic skills under her tuition, you are also guaranteed a fun and rewarding time in her company.

Other tours by this lecturer:

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Group Size:

Min 60 / Max 98

Tour Expert:

Monty Halls, Sue Flood

Departure Date (S):

  • 7th July 2018

  1. Moderate Activity - The tour may occasionally involve slightly longer walks, but nothing over 4 hours. The tour will involve visits to a variety of sites throughout the duration of the itinerary and be at a moderate pace.

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