Around Spitsbergen Polar Bears & Birding Special - 10 days aboard MV Ortelius
This ten day voyage around Spitsbergen, the largest wilderness area in Europe, will bring you up-close to the spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife that makes this one of the most fascinating places to visit in the world. On this very special Arctic cruise your ship will attempt to navigate entirely around the island, including the northernmost points just 540 miles from the geographical North Pole. Enjoying exciting Zodiac and land excursions throughout, 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!
As an exciting addition, you will be joined on your voyage by at least one dedicated birding guide who will deliver their expert knowledge on Arctic birdlife and help with identifying the huge numbers of bird species found in Spitsbergen.
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 >
Special Guest Photography GuideChris was 32 when he finally realised he really did want to be a photo-journalist and walked out on his career in IT sales to become a wildlife photographer Read more >
- Attempt a navigation of the spectacular island of Spitsbergen
- Enjoy a special focus on the area's fantastic birding opportunities
- Breathtaking scenery at every turn
- Abundant Arctic wildlife including Polar bears, whales, walrus and reindeers
- Exciting Zodiac and shore excursions
- Polar diving option available (costs apply)
- 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
ITINERARY9 Nights 10 Days
- Day 1 | Longyearbyen
- Day 2 | Krossfjorden & Ny Alesund
- Day 3 | Liefdefjorden & Monaco Glacier
- Days 4 - 5 | Seven Islands
- Day 6 | Hinlopen Strait
- Day 7 | Barentsøya & Edgeøya
- Day 8 | At Sea - Cruising Hornsund
- Day 9 | Bellsund
- Day 10 | Longyearbyen
Your Spitsbergen circumnavigation cruise will begin in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Svalbard archipelago, where after having arrived independently you can enjoy a stroll around this former mining town before making your way to the port to embark your ship in the afternoon. After settling in to your cabin and exploring your new surroundings, the ship will depart in the early evening. As we sail out of Isfjorden we recommend spending some time on deck where you may spot the first minke whale of your voyage following the ship in the waters below.
Various flight and land package options are available for transport to and from Longyearbyen, please enquire for full details.
Krossfjorden & Ny Alesund
Having sailed north along Spitsbergen’s dramatic west coast overnight, this morning we will arrive in Krossfjorden to enjoy the first of many Zodiac boat excursions of our trip. Cruising along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier and down along its neighbouring green slopes, you will witness a beautiful variety of flowers blooming along with fantastic numbers of Brunnich's guillemots and kittiwakes nesting on the nearby cliffs. We also have good chances of spotting bearded seals here along with Arctic foxes who patrol the base of the cliffs in search of eggs and chicks that may drop from above.
After our exploration of Krossfjorden, later in the afternoon we will sail to Ny Alesund for more bird spotting and an introduction to some of the history of this remarkable island. Ny Alesund is the world's most northerly settlement, which, when it was a mining village, was served by the world's most northerly railway, which we can see as we enjoy a walk around the village. The history enthusiasts amongst us may enjoy a walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile, in the airship Norge in 1926 and Nobile in the airship Italia in 1928, before their flights to the North Pole. The birding enthusiasts may enjoy a walk to the nearby breeding ground for Barnacle Goose, Pink-footed Goose and Arctic Tern.
Liefdefjorden & Monaco Glacier
As with all polar expeditions, itinerary flexibility is the key, and each day your captain and experienced crew will determine the best course to travel in order to provide you with the very best scenic and wildlife observation opportunities. Today we hope for favourable conditions to sail into Liefdefjorden and cruise within sight of the 5-kilometer-long (3.1 miles) face of the precipitous Monaco Glacier. The base of the ice is a popular polar bear hunting ground so we will hope for lots of sightings of these majestic animals here along with the thousands of kittiwakes that make the front of the glacier their favourite feeding spot. If ice conditions are not favourable for a cruise into Liefdefjorden, your crew will determine an alternate, but similarly exciting, route along the west coast.
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. Polar bears also inhabit this region so we may anchor the ship for several hours amongst the pack ice in order to give us time to spot some of these majestic animals.
If the sea ice dictates us not being able to spend a 2nd day in the Seven Islands we will instead head for Sorgfjord to enjoy a nature walk to see a family of ptarmigans that reside here. We can also look for the resident herd of walruses and take a walk to see the graves of 17th-century whalers that are found here.
Today we will hope to sail into the Hinlopen Strait to fully explore this wildlife wonderland. As we board our Zodiac boats we will enjoy an exciting cruise among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in search of sightings of the polar bears, ringed seals and bearded seals that abound here. We will also sail beneath the spectacular bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with their thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots.
Later in the day we hope to visit the east side of Hinlopen Strait to attempt a landing on Nordaustlandet to observe the reindeer, walruses and pink-footed geese that are often found here.
Barentsøya & Edgeøya
As we continue to sail southwards along Spitsbergen’s east coast our plan today will be to make a landing in Freemansundet, although the presence of polar bears on land may mean this is deemed impossible. Other landings we may make on Barentsøya include Rindedalen where we can enjoy a walk along the tundra in search of Spitsbergen reindeer and barnacle geese, Sundneset to visit an old trapper’s hut and Kapp Waldburg to see its large kittiwake colony. We also hope to enjoy a Zodiac cruise to Kapp Lee on Edgeøya where we will see a large walrus haul-out and enjoy a hike along the coast to see some Pomor ruins.
At Sea - Cruising Hornsund
Today we will enjoy some time on board as we cruise along the side fjords of the Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen enjoying the scenery of towering spire-like mountain peaks of up to 4,695 feet. This area perfectly demonstrates why early Dutch explorers named this island Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.” As we sail we can enjoy our onboard presentation and lecture programme delivered by expert naturalists, and spending some time on deck with our cameras in hand as we sail by 14 sizeable glaciers. There are also excellent chances of spotting polar bears, seals and beluga whales from the ship.
The last region on our thrilling Spitsbergen circumnavigation will be Bellsund, one of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard. We plan to land at Ahlstrandhalvøya, at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden to enjoy a walk to see the lush vegetation that is found here owing to the ocean currents which make this area relatively warmer than other areas in the archipelago. Here we will see the piles of beluga skeletons that remain as a haunting reminder of the whale slaughtering that happened here in the 19th century. Thankfully, these magnificent marine animals were not hunted to extinction and we have good chances of coming across a pod here. We also hope to take a Zodiac cruise along the side fjords of Bellsund to explore the tundra and search for sightings of reindeer and little auks.
Circumnavigation complete, our arrival back into Longyearbyen signals the end of our exciting Arctic cruise, and 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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