Arctic Realms: Polar Bears, Walruses, & Icebergs!
June 24th - July 3rd, 2024
We've conquered Antarctica so it's time to explore the Arctic! Join us in the realm of Polar Bears, Walruses, & the most beautiful ice in the world! Svalbard (also known as Spitsbergen) is the premier hub for exploring this polar region. Touched by three seas – The Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea, and the Arctic Ocean – Svalbard is the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago of northern Norway. By far the largest wilderness area in Europe, Svalbard offers some of the finest scenery and wildlife experiences in the world. Its rugged mountains and rolling tundra offer plenty of opportunities for hiking, snowshoeing, photography, and all-around polar adventure. Our travel club has partnered with the best-specialized operator in the industry taking groups to the Arctic and Antarctic for over 25 years!
Please e-mail us for the day-by-day itinerary (email@example.com)
Activities & Adventures
* Shore Excursions and Zodiac Cruises: Zodiac rides emphasize active wildlife and nature experiences. Guided shore excursions, walks, wildlife spotting, and Zodiacs to/from landings are all included!
* Hiking: Expand upon the normal shore walking program on optional easy, moderate, and more demanding hikes in the vicinity of the landing sites. Hiking is free of charge.
* Photography Walks, Tips & Tricks: Join our tour director for beginner & advanced photo walks during some of our zodiac landings. Onboard partake in photo reviews, tips & tricks, & "mini-lessons" to help capture your best possible images.
*Everybody is welcome to participate, no previous experience is required. While onboard the ship, we can learn more about objects, exposures, photo composition, and camera settings.
* Workshops/Lectures: As much of our time as possible will be spent experiencing & photographing the landscapes & wildlife of the Arctic, but while we are navigating from place to place a wide range of onboard interactive workshops & lectures are endlessly fascinating. Certain topics may include navigation, astronomy, geology, & botany along with in-depth presentations that explore the fascinating life of polar bears, walruses, marine mammals, birds, and the other animals that call these regions home. *Availability of particular lectures/workshops depends on the expertise and specialties of our amazing expedition team.
Svalbard: Gateway to the Arctic
"Svalbard is the Arctic North as you always dreamed it existed. This wondrous archipelago is a land of dramatic snow-drowned peaks and glaciers, vast ice fields, and forbidding icebergs, an elemental place where the seemingly endless Arctic night and the perpetual sunlight of summer carry a deeper kind of magic. One of Europe's last great wildernesses, this is also the domain of more polar bears than people, a terrain rich in epic legends of polar exploration." - Lonely Planet
Longyearbyen: The northernmost town in the world!
Well above the Arctic Circle at 77.8 degrees, the island "capital" of Longyearbyen rightfully claims the awesome title of "the northernmost town in the world"! A threshold to the magical polar world, just about every Svalbard experience begins here. "With easy access to nature–-the Longyear Glacier, for instance, can be found just outside the neighborhood of Nybyen and it's not the only reason to explore Svalbard's administrative center, research hub, and tourism magnet. This was a coal mining town until the industry moved to nearby Svea, but the old mines still exist and can be visited, as can historic structures like the Svalbard Church." - Fodor's
* Optional Pre-Night Strongly Recommended
- Largest town, Biggest Island (Day 1): Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded here. In the early evening, the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where you might spot the first minke whale of your voyage!
The Journey Begins...
- Day 2, Cruising Krossfjorden: Zodiac cruise near the towering blue-white face of the Fourteenth of July Glacier and sail to Ny Ålesund, the northernmost settlement on Earth.
- Day 3, The Massive Monaco Glacier: Cruise into Liefdefjorden within sight of the 3-mile-long face of the precipitous Monaco Glacier. The waters in front of this glacier are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes, and the base of the ice is a popular polar bear hunting ground.
- Day 4 & 5, The Seven Islands & Walrus Herds: The northernmost point of our voyage, we hope to reach 80° north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar bears inhabit this region, so keep your eyes peeled and cameras ready! Toward Sorgfjord, we'll search for a herd of walruses not far from the graves of 17th-century whalers. A nature walk brings us close to families of ptarmigans (think "Arctic Pigeon").
- Day 6, The Ultimate Strait: Hinlopen Strait is home to bearded and ringed seals as well as polar bears. There is even the possibility to spot blue whales as we cruise through the entrance. Other possibilities:
- Pending conditions, we may attempt a landing on the east side where reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses are likely sights!
- Cruise among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya via zodiacs while watching and photographing the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with their thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots!
- Check out the polar desert of Nordaustlandet, next to the world’s third-largest ice cap! Here we may encounter walruses during a coastline hike over the area’s raised beaches.
- Day 7, The Bounties of Barentsøya Island: We hope to land in Freemansundet Sound, though polar bears sometimes make this impossible! Other potential stops include:
- Bay of Sundneset: Check out an old trapper’s hut
- Kapp (Cape) Waldburg: Witness and photograph the kittiwake colony here
- Rindedalen: Take a serene walk across the tundra!
- Land at Kapp (Cape) Lee: In search of a walrus haul-out, the Pomor ruins (last Russian hunting station), and a hike along Edgeøya island.
- Day 8, Land of the Pointed Mountains: Take in the spire-like peaks along the side fjords of southern Svalbard. The side fjords around Hornsundtind rise 4,695 feet, and Bautaen Peak perfectly illustrates why early Dutch explorers named this island Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.”! Other potential highlights include:
- 14 Sizable Glaciers to photograph
- Wildlife spotting: Seals, Beluga Whales, and Polar Bears
- Day 9, Flora, fauna, & haunting history at Bell Sound: One of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard, there are excellent wildlife opportunities and a dramatic history here. We hope to visit Ahlstrandhalvøya Peninsula, where piles of beluga skeletons can be found. These remains of 19th-century whale slaughter are a haunting reminder of the consequences of rampant exploitation. Fortunately, belugas were not hunted to extinction, and we have a good chance of coming across a pod! Other wildlife includes:
- Reindeer: Along the side fjords of Bellsund, reindeer like to feed off the tundra
- Auks: These cute and awkward "penguin-like" birds breed on the rock slopes; fun to watch and photograph
- Day 10, There and back again: Enjoy our final cruise back to Longyearbyen. Still plenty of stunning views and photographs to capture as we pull into the harbor. Plus, there's always a chance one final polar bear will be checking out the shores to pose for our cameras and bid farewell!
* As always this entire trip will be amazing for photography and our tour director will be on hand to help those who want to learn more about using their cameras, taking better pictures, etc. (PhotoFly Travel Club adventures are laid back when it comes to photography. They are not workshop style based tours and you do not need to be an avid photographer to join. All are welcome!)
* International Airfare is not included. We are happy to help you find a good flight as always! (Flying into Longyearbyen (LYR) on June 23rd or 24th 2024 & departing from Longyearbyen (LYR) on July 3rd 2024) *Some flights will not arrive in time for embarkation on June 24th so guests may need to arrive one night early on June 23rd, 2024
Check out some video highlights from past expeditions around Svalbard
Price based on cabin type below
*For our solo travelers, we will pair you up with same-sex UNLESS single occupancy is requested to have your own room.
Per Person, Sharing Cabin:
Quad Cabin (4 twin beds/both bunk beds; 2 portholes): $5395.00
Triple Cabin Porthole (3 twin beds; 2 portholes): $6950.00
Twin Cabin Porthole (2 twin beds; 2 portholes): $7649.00
Twin Cabin Window (2 twin beds; 2 windows): $8249.00
Superior Double (1 double bed;1 sofa bed; 2 windows): $9,925.00
Single Cabin Porthole: $15,295.00
Single Cabin Window: $16,349.00
Superior Single Cabin: $19,749.00
Cancellation Policy & Refunds
*50% of deposit is refunded for all cancellations made 190 days (March 26th, 2024) or more prior to trip departure date. An additional 100 USD admin fee is subtracted from the total refund. Cancellations less than 190 days (March 27th, 2024) prior to the trip departure date will receive no refund of the full amount due. No refunds on unused portions of the tour. Credit card fees and paypal processing fees cannot be refunded. After airline tickets are issued, airline cancellations are per the airline’s policy and are usually non-refundable and changeable with a fee plus new ticket price. Travel insurance strongly encouraged (ask us about policy options). *Hotels subject to change based on availability
COVID Cancellation Policy – Local Planet Travel Services OR Guest may cancel this reservation if the USA or country(s) we are visiting mandates a country-wide closure due to COVID or any pandemic. If this happens, you would receive a full refund. If guest chooses, the funds can remain on file and be applied for any future tour with PhotoFly Travel Club. *Please note bank merchant service fees when using a credit card are non-refundable.
MANDATORY VACCINE REQUIREMENT: The safety of all our guests is a top priority regardless of where our adventures take us. All travelers are required to have an approved COVID-19 vaccination to participate in this tour. Travelers that meet this mandatory requirement can join our adventures after 14 days have elapsed since their final dose. Proof of vaccination must be provided by emailing a copy of the participant's COVID-19 vaccination card to firstname.lastname@example.org upon sign-up. *Guests who are not vaccinated for medical reasons are exempt from this mandatory vaccine policy with proof from a certified medical professional.
*Notice: Payment online incurs 3.7% credit card processing fee OR 3.6% PayPal* processing fee (automatically added to shopping cart). PayPal Payments from outside the USA incur a 4.5% processing fee. Please mail check to avoid fees to:
Local Planet Travel
325 Rocky Slope Road, Suite 104-240
Greenville, SC 29607
*You can use a credit card on PayPal and do not need a PayPal account.
*We also accept no fee payments via Venmo & Zelle. Should you wish to pay via either method see the instructions below:
Venmo: Send trip payments to @photofly (www.venmo.com/photofly)
Zelle: Send trip payments to email@example.com
*If mailing a check, please reserve your spot via the above trip page and select "check payments" on the checkout page.