Around Svalbard + Bear Island 12 DaysAboard: 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!
- 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
So much to experience
Too much to choose from? This is where we come in
Take advantage of our vast experience, passion and expertise to help you hand craft the perfect Arctic adventure for you.
Zoe’s abiding love of adventure travel has taken her to some of the most incredible wildlife-rich places on Earth. Her vast experience and genuine desire to share her knowledge makes her an outstanding and invaluable person to help you organise your wildlife adventure trip.
Mike lives and breathes adventure travel and has a wealth of experience in some of the most exciting and inspirational destinations in the world. His expertise and first-hand experience afford him the skills to help build holidays to remember.
With a lifetime of unforgettable nature and adventure based travel under his belt, Simon shares his passion, enthusiasm and hands-on experience to help create the perfect itinerary for every client.
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All our itinerary holidays are fully customisable
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.
A view from Above
Ortelius was built as a Russian scientific survey ship with ice strengthened hull, ideal for polar sailing. She has been completely refurbished and has a selection of suites and cabins with windows or portholes and either private or shared facilities. There are twin dining rooms, lecture room, bar and observation lounge and lots of open deck space plus an open-bridge policy. Ortelius also has a helicopter landing pad and helicopter excursions are available on some itineraries.
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