Around Svalbard + Bear Island 12 Days aboard MV Ortelius
This fascinating itinerary will take you from Tromsø to Spitsbergen to discover the largest wilderness area in Europe, with an exploration of the remote and enchanting Bear Island en-route. Accompanied by an experienced and highly knowledgeable expedition team and noted naturalists, you will experience a world of spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife. On this very special Arctic cruise your ship will attempt to navigate almost entirely around the Svalbard archipelago, including an attempt to reach the vastly remote Kvitøya. Enjoying exciting Zodiac and land excursions each day, you will be on a constant lookout for the abundant Arctic wildlife that resides in this remarkable part of the world including walrus, whales, reindeer, myriad birdlife, and, of course, polar bears!
Namibia Birding and Photography GuideAn accomplished and experienced Namibia birding and photographic guide, Toni holds a Namibia Academy for Tourism and Hospitality Level 3 qualification (the highest level attainable in Namibia) and is widely renowned for her extensive knowledge of the cultures, ornithology, flora, astronomy and wildlife of the country. Read more >
Wildlife Guide & PhotographerAndy is a 6th generation Falkland Islander, with a passion for wildlife, plants and photography. Raised in the Falkland Islands, Andy developed a close affinity with the Islands natural environment at a young age. School holidays where spent in the ‘camp’ or countryside with friends and family. For more than 10 years, Andy had the privilege of spending a time on Sea Lion Island, visiting his mother who managed one of the Islands premier tourist destinations. Read more >
Photographer and founder of the Travel Photographer Of The Year awardsA fascination with natural light and a passion with nature, landscape and travel underpin Chris Coe's photography. His images often have a striking simplicity and graphic quality. More recent work has introduced a subtlety with experimentation with both movement and light.Read more >
Falklands Expert & GuideBorn in Chartres in the West Falklands, Jenny grew up on the family farm where her love for animals was nurtured by the25,000 sheep, horses and cows that lived alongside her. Forever a nature, conservation and wildlife enthusiast Jenny has travelled extensively throughout the Falkland Islands, visiting each and every wildlife island at least once, and even travelling around some by yacht. Read more >
Special Guest LecturerExclusive to this voyage, Doug Allan, a multi award winning polar photographer and cameraman, will be your special guest lecturer. Doug has been on over 20 expeditions to Svalbard to film its wildlife, and knows the wonders of this area more than most. Read more >
- Attempt a navigation of the spectacular Svalbard archipelago
- Visit the wild and remote Bear Island
- Breathtaking scenery at every turn
- Abundant Arctic wildlife including Polar bears, whales, walrus and reindeers
- Myriad birdlife
- Full board accommodation on board with all meals, snacks and hot drinks
- All zodiac excursions and landings with expert guides
- Programme of expert lectures
- Loan of rubber boots
ITINERARY11 Nights 12 Days
- Day 1 | Tromsø, Norway
- Day 2 | At Sea
- Day 3 | Bear Island
- Days 4 - 5 | Tusindøyane & East Edgeøya
- Day 6 | Austfonna Ice Cap
- Day 7 | Kvitøya
- Days 8 - 9 | Seven Islands / Nordaustlandet
- Day 10 | Raudfjorden
- Day 11 | Prins Karls Forland
- Day 12 | Longyearbyen
Your adventure begins in Tromsø, the “Paris of the north”, where after having arrived independently you can spend some time exploring this sub-Arctic Norwegian town before embarking your expedition ship. After settling in to your cabin and familiarising yourself with your new surroundings we will set sail into the North Sea to begin your trip of a lifetime.
Today will be spent sailing across the North Sea on our way northwards towards Svalbard and the island of Spitsbergen. As we sail, your program of informative and entertaining lectures and presentations delivered by noted naturalists and your experienced expedition team will begin, covering everything from the history of Arctic exploration to the geological features and wildlife you are likely to encounter throughout your journey. We recommend spending some time on deck with your cameras in hand as there are excellent chances of spotting minke whales, white-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises in the waters below. There is also a chance of spotting the elusive orcas which are native to these seas.
Today we arrive at the wild, remote and rarely explored Bear Island which lies almost half way between northern Norway and Svalbard. We have a number of possible landing sites here and upon approach to the island we will launch the Zodiac boats to reach the shore at either Sørhamna, which features the remains of a whaling station active between 1905 and 1908, Tunnheim, where coal mining was attempted between 1916—25 before the settlement was destroyed in WWII, or somewhere along the island’s scenic west coast. Your accompanying expedition team will offer an insight into the area and its history.
Tusindøyane & East Edgeøya
As we reach the formidable south coast of Svalbard we will enter the realm of the historic whalers and trappers as we arrive at the southern reaches of Edgeøya to Tusindøyane. Tusindøyane translates to “the thousand islands” and this intriguing group of small islands is under special protection during the summer months so is one of the least explored areas in the archipelago. As you will be arriving after August 15th, we can take the opportunity to explore this area that is steeped in history. Landings we may make include Ækongen, a rocky islet carpeted in fantastic lichen where we will find remains of the 17th-century whalers and early 20th-century trappers and learn all about their plights and struggles. We could also land at Bölscheøya to take a walk through the relatively flat landscape and search for sightings of the red-throated divers which are often seen in the lakes in this area.
The following day we will aim to explore the rarely seen glacier fronts of eastern Edgeøya. We also plan to visit Ryke Yseøyane where we will good chances of observing the first polar bears of our trip.
Austfonna Ice Cap
Next up on our Svalbard adventure we will sail by the fully protected islands of Kong Karls Land to reach the immense front of the Austfonna ice cap. As we sail around the area we will visit Bråsvellbreen to see the meltwater waterfalls flowing into the sea before heading to Isisøyane in the afternoon to enjoy a memorable Zodiac cruise across the ice front. Make sure to have your cameras ready for spectacular views and great chances of spotting polar bears.
Today we will attempt to reach the very remote and rarely-visited Kvitøya. The enormous ice cap covering this island close to Russian territory leaves only a small amount of land bare and we will attempt to land at the western tip of Andréeneset, where the Swedish explorer S. A. Andrée and his companions perished in 1897. We also hope to visit Kræmerpynten to see the sizeable group of walruses that reside here.
As with throughout this itinerary and all polar expeditions, flexibility is the key and weather and ice conditions will dictate all routes taken. If your captain and crew deem that an attempt to reach Kvitøya is not possible then we will instead sail through the Hinlopen Strait to circumnavigate Spitsbergen, the largest island in Svalbard. The chances of reaching Kvitøya based on previous years’ success are around 70%.
Seven Islands / Nordaustlandet
Over the course of the next two days we will sail to the Seven Islands, north of Nordaustlandet, and what may be the northernmost point of your voyage. We hope to land on Sjuøyane, one of the Seven Islands, to enjoy a walk along the Arctic landscape just 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole in search of the large numbers of walrus which are often found here.
As we sail along the north coast of Spitsbergen we will reach the expansive fjord of Raudfjorden where mounds of glaciers create spectacular photo opportunities. While we are here we will enjoy an exploration of the area in search of the ringed and bearded seals which are often found here. We will also be on the lookout for the thriving seabird colonies that reside on the steep cliffs and shoreline of the fjord, and will be keeping our eyes peeled for further sightings of the elusive polar bears.
Prins Karls Forland
Our final day of adventure will take us to the western coast of Spitsbergen and the remarkable Prins Karls Forland. Here you can enjoy a Zodiac cruise in the surrounding Forlandsundet in search of sightings of walrus surrounded by majestic scenery. We hope to make land at Fuglehuken, on the northern tip of Prins Karls Forland to take a walk in search of the wildlife that resides here including the northernmost population of harbour seals in the world. Your expedition team will also take you to see some 17th-century whaler graves, and the remains of the trapping era, whilst offering an insight into life in this remote and often inhospitable part of the world.
Your thrilling Arctic cruise will come to an end in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of Svalbard, where after breakfast you will disembark and bid a fond farewell to your expedition team and new-found friends. You may wish to spend some further time here exploring this unique Arctic town or enjoying some of the many extra excursions and activities that are on offer here. Please enquire for details of the land-based activities that we would be happy to arrange for you. Otherwise, it’s sadly time to make your way to the airport for your onward or homeward flights, filled with memories of the adventure of a lifetime.
What Our Customers
Superlatives abound – a truly amazing experience...awesome. Thanks to all for making it such a memorable experience.
We have just returned from our Spitsbergen trip with Wildfoot and had to tell you what an amazing time we had! We saw 6 polar bears including a mother with 2 cubs as well as whales, walruses and lots of birds. The ship (Expedition) was really comfortable and the guides were so helpful and friendly. Thank you so much for making it all so easy.
I came to Wildfoot because a friend had booked with you when you were Antarctica Bound and they were right. Everything went perfectly, even when our flight was cancelled, you made sure we still made it to the ship with time to spare. L’Austral is a beautiful ship with first class service and food and the guides looked after us well. Very happy to recommend Wildfoot and L’Austral...
We had always wanted to see the Arctic and travelling all the way from Australia needed lots of information. After getting nowhere, we came across Wildfoot and found people who knew what they were talking about! Sara and John were so helpful and made the process easy, suggesting Iceland Greenland and Spitsbergen. This was perfect for us – amazing scenery and lots of wildlife, especially the polar bears in Spitsbergen. Thanks for everything. Ps, the ship was great too!
Just wanted to say thank you for suggesting a trip to Franz Josef Land as something different for the Arctic. We had a super trip and really enjoyed the Sea Spirit. Galapagos next!
Standing on the North Pole has been an ambition of mine since childhood and now I have done it! Thank you for making the process so easy - seeing polar bears and whales too was a real bonus.
The Sea Spirit expedition was excellent and the team organising it all were extremely good. 10 out of 10. Everything went very smoothly. The Iceland extension worked perfectly, all the organisation, connections etc. were excellent
The cruise was beyond my expectations. Got to see everything the captain wanted, even a polar bear mother with three cubs. Coal Miners Cabins were smashing. I did loads of birding and exploring over three days. All the people were great from the expedition leaders down to the passengers. So glad to have achieved my ambition of some 50 years standing and got amongst the ice of the Arctic, walked amongst it’s islands and witnessed the antics of its wonderful wildlife. What’s next??? I’ll need to speak with Sara again.
Thanks so much for enabling me to get to places I had always wanted to see from a very young age. “Ace” as my boys used to say!
Just wanted to send a quick note to say thank you very much for all your help in arranging our recent trip to Svalbard. Everything ran smoothly and the trip was a great success. Unfortunately I had to flew back a few days early and missed out on Isfjord Radio, which the rest of the team said was a brilliant place with amazing food, still the Basecamp Hotel and Nordenskiold Lodge were pretty amazing places, so I’m not complaining!
Writing back to tell you that the trip to the Arctic was all that it promised and more. It was a great wild-life sightseeing opportunity and the staff were really good.I had an excellent trip and have thousands of photos to go through.
I had an absolutely fabulous time won the Sergey Vavilov, it is an excellent ship. Sara was indeed right in her recommendation that they would be the most likely to push north into the ice to find the polar bears. We even circumnavigated Spitsbergen which was awesome and not o n the itinerary.It is such a wonderful way to take a trip when you are on your own – so if any of your potential single clients are unsure, definitely recommend it – I didn’t feel alone from the moment I stepped on board. I will be at the Birdfair next weekend and so will catch up with whoever is there – regarding this trip, and potentially my next!
Great cruise, staff and expedition team. Had a great trip.
Great cruise, staff and expedition team. Had a great trip.
We had a wonderful time, even though we didn't do all the places we were supposed to but we all felt were we went instead couldn't beaten. Saw animals I wanted to see. Bit worried what the food was like as some of the ships cooking leaves something to be desired, but food was very good. We thought all the guides were brilliant and informative, friendly and knowledgeable It was far better than we expected and even my husband thoroughly enjoyed it!
I wanted to let you know that I had a wonderful cruise in the Russian Far East. The landscape and destination were inspiring, we had some excellent wildlife sightings (sea otter, grey whale, Steller's sea eagle, snowy owl and Arctic fox were all firsts for me), and the Heritage team were superb. Rough seas forced a few changes to the itinerary but we also had some fabulous weather. All in all, a thrilling travel experience.Thanks once again for all your efforts
I thought you might like to know that this was an excellent holiday. Our guide, Brad, was absolutely wonderful, his enthusiasm and knowledge made the holiday even better. All in all the whole trip was excellent and we saw lots of bears, 24 on the first day. Fewer on the second and third days but still plenty, as well as arctic foxes,silver foxes and snowy owls. Even on the last day near the town we saw a bear on rocks by the beach.
What a great trip! Wildfoot built a great trip for us and every aspect was spot on. Our Iguazu guide was fun, interesting and helpful and all the transfers were timely and comfortable. The Antarctica Trip was superb - WIldfoot had given us the best advice and helped us choose the right ship and tour for what we wanted - A truly memorable Experience Thank You Wildfoot
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