Polar pioneers of Svalbard
Appreciate the unique combination of midnight sun and full winter, north of the Arctic Circle
This is an expedition where the elements rule, and the weather, wind and ice conditions will determine our schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the final sailing itinerary during the voyage. Hence, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.
Tromsø is called the Gateway to the Arctic. When polar explorer Roald Amundsen recruited members for his famous expeditions more than100 years ago, he went to Tromsø. This was the only place he could find men (yes – it was mostly men back in those days) with navigational experience from Polar waters. He needed men that knew how to survive in the Arctic with a minimum of means, men that had survived an overwintering in Svalbard by trapping and hunting. Today Tromsø is home to experts on polar operations and academics that investigate global warming the in Arctic. It is a melting pot with indigenous people, locals and people from all over Europe. Tromsø is in short still the Gateway to the Artic and a natural starting point for expeditions heading north – just like the one you are about to embark on.
Bjørnøya is the southernmost of the Svalbard group of islands. Its nine inhabitants, all members of a scientific crew, find themselves on a very isolated location in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. This small island is known for having the largest concentration of sea birds on the northern hemisphere. This is where the cold waters from the Arctic Ocean meet warm Gulf Stream currents. When these water masses collide nutrient-rich water is pushed up to the surface, making it an "all-you-can-eat" buffet for 126 different bird spices of birds living here. We will try to make a landing here.
Cruising northbound from Bjørnøya we will take advantage of the conditions at hand, focusing on the ice edge. We will attempt to enter fjords where we can expect fast ice – ice that is landlocked. This is the platform where the ringed seal cast (gives birth to) their offspring, making it a perfect hunting ground for polar bears.
The Svalbard group of islands is home to about 3,000 polar bears, probably the largest concentration on earth. There are more polar bears than humans. On the other hand the polar bears are solitude animals with no set colony or living area. The only exception is pregnant females that use denning areas during winter. It is more likely to observe this marine mammal on the drift ice, close to the ocean or even in the ocean. Bottom line is that we often observe polar bears on this itinerary – not every day and seldom on very close range – aand we can offer no guarantees. But the more eyes scouting through binoculars the higher is the chance of observing the King of the Arctic.
The climate in Spitsbergen is mild compared to the location. Longyearbyen, as one of the northernmost settlements in the world, benefit from the Golf Stream. Through Spitsbergen Travel, a part of Hurtigruten, we offer great winter experiences like dogsledding, ice caving and snow scooter. Please observe that you should not stray outside the city limits without the company of a guide.
You will certainly notice how different Barentsburg is from Longyearbyen. Everything here happens around the entrance of the coalmine, and there is very little commercial activity available to visitors. You are invited to see a lively culture show or you can visit the hotel or the museum.
We will continue even further north to North-West Spitsbergen National Park and towards the second biggest fjord system on the west coast of Spitsbergen; Kongsfjorden/Krossfjorden. Come ashore and enjoy a winter scenery beyond imagination.
As we cruise south, we will try to make another stop at Bjørnøya - at a different place this time.
After exploring Spitsbergen we head back to the Norwegian mainland. Arriving North Cape from the north is something very few people will experience. We will pay a visit to Gjessværstappan, a bird cliff that will be teeming with spring breeding arctic species in a cacophony of sound.
Disembarking in Tromsø, you will feel like a polar hero. The return to civilization will appear like a great contrast to the expedition you have just experienced.
Ice cave tourExcursion Spitsbergen (3 hours) From 99 €
Dog sledding in BolterdalenExcursion Spitsbergen (4 hours) From 169 €
Snowmobile tour to the TempelfjordExcursion Spitsbergen (Approx. 7 hours) From 274 €
Historical walk in the world’s northernmost fishing villageExcursion Norway, Skarsvåg (Approx. 4 hours) From 106 €
Hornvika, North Cape ClassicExcursion Norway, Skarsvåg (4 hours) From 124 €
Snowmobile tour Camp BarentzExcursion Spitsbergen (Approx. 3 hours) From 199 €
Longyearbyen - Visit to Camp BarentzExcursion Spitsbergen (3 hours) From 187 €
Longyearbyen - The Life of a MinerExcursion Spitsbergen (2 hours) From 124 €
A Taste of Svalbard in LongyearbyenExcursion Spitsbergen (1,5 hours) From 112 €
Summer Dog Sledding in LongyearbyenExcursion Spitsbergen (4 hours) From 174 €
Hike to Blomsterdalshøgda and the Global Seed VaultExcursion Spitsbergen (3 hours) From 112 €
Fossil hunting at Longyear GlacierExcursion Spitsbergen (3 hours) From 112 €
Panorama Tour of Longyearbyen by BikeExcursion Spitsbergen (1,5 hours) From 88 €
Discover LongyearbyenExcursion Spitsbergen (1 hour) From 69 €
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Wonderful few days to Spitsbergen. Scenery was fantastic. Guides were pleasant enthusiastic and informative. The trips ashore on the Polarcirkel boats were well organised and very interesting telling us some of the history of Spitsbergen. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.Anonymous