For those travellers who have set their heart on seeing the polar bear in its natural habitat, this is undoubtedly the trip for you.
With a local population of bears estimated at 3,000 (more bears than people!), Spitsbergen is considered by most to be the best place in the whole of The Arctic in which to see the world's most iconic and dangerous predator. In the last 5 years, every Steppes client visiting Spitsbergen on an expeditionary cruise has seen a polar bear - and they've got memorable photographs to prove it.
It's difficult not to be bear centric when exploring the Svalbard archipelago but Spitsbergen is no one-trick pony. Cruise sheltered coastal waterways and fjords under the midnight sun, taking advantage of the extra manouverability provided by small, ice-strengthened ships. Much of the time will be spent on exploratory zodiac excursions, getting as close as the conditions allow to glaciers and keeping a watchful eye out for Spitsbergen's other wildlife - walrus, arctic fox, whales and a myriad birdlife. Landings are accompanied by knowledgeable expeditionary staff and there is plenty of opportunity to embark on extended treks to see more remote, inland parts of the island.
For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.
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PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.
Fly London to Longyearbyen
You will be staying at Trappers Lodge Basecamp
Longyearbyen embarkationTransfer to the ship for embarkation. Sail out of Adventfjorden and into Isfjorden during the early evening. After an introductory briefing, sit down for the first meal on board.
You will be staying at Akademik Sergey Vavilov
BourbonhamnaHead towards the narrow sound near Bourbonhamna, where beluga whales are often spotted. The adults are pure white, whilst the calves are a mottled grey colour. It is estimated there are up to 10,000 beluga whales in the Svalbard area. Search from the ship and in Zodiacs, before heading ashore for a scenic hike. Pass by an old hunting cabin and other artefacts en route to Ingebrigstenbukta. However, scenery is dominated by the piles of beluga bones that dot the landscape. Protected by the Svalbard government, these eerie relics are interspersed by dozens of reindeer.
KrossfjordenThe shores of Krossfjorden are home to numerous bird colonies. Anchor off a small harbour and cruise by Zodiac along the bird cliffs that lie near the 14th of July Glacier. Hope to catch a glimpse of bearded and ringed seals, which frequent the fjord.
Liefdefjorden and MonacobreenSail into Leifdefjorden, and towards Monaco Glacier. This spectacular glacier provides a fabulous backdrop for cruising by Zodiac or exploring by kayak. Miles of ice are broken up by the occasional ice cave or tumbling serac, whilst thousands of black-legged kittiwakes feed on the upwelling of nutrients found near the sub-glacial outflow. The coastal plain near the mouth of Liefdefjorden offers superb hiking and is often a great place to spot polar bears.
Phippsoya - Northernmost PointAt 81 degrees north, pass Phippsoya, one of the Seven Islands. Only 540 nautical miles from the North Pole, Phippsoya offers the potential for great polar bear viewing, due to its proximity to the pack ice.
Hinlopen Strait and NordaustlandetFrom the ice edge, head south between Svalbard's two main islands, Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. Known as the Hinlopen Strait, this stretch of water is home to the impressive bird cliffs at Alkefjellet. These house more than 100,000 breeding Brunnich's guillemots, as well as thousands of kittiwakes and black guillemots. Explore this spectacular site and experience the challenge that the Zodiacs face as the battle the strait's roaring tidal currents.Continue on to Murchison Fjord, which is a wonderful place to kayak or cruise along the waterways that lie between islands. Have the chance to take short hikes up to high viewpoints, whist looking out for Arctic wildlife.
Fuglesangen and SmeerenburgContinue onto the island of Fuglesangenoya, and approach by Zodiac. Home to a large dovekie colony, the island is shaped in such a way that viewing opportunities are maximised, whilst minimising disturbance to the colony.Just a few miles from Fuglesangen is the former whaling station of Smeerenburg, which translates as 'Blubber Town'. Hike along the shoreline and learn about the importance of whaling in the discovery and exploration of the Svalbard archipelago. The blubber ovens are all that is left of this controversial industry.
Poole Pynten, Prins Karls ForlandVisit Prince Charles Island and head to a well-known spot for seeing walruses ashore. Hope to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures, whose presence can often be confirmed by approaching from downwind and waiting for their pungent odour to fill the air.In the evening, celebrate the completion of the voyage with a special dinner attended by the ship's captain.
Longyearbyen, DisembarkationAfter a final hearty breakfast, disembark and transfer to the town
Fly Longyearbyen to London
Phone: +44(0) 1285 885 333
+44(0) 1285 885 333
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