Svalbard, Iceland & Greenland's East Coast
17 days with Natural Habitat Adventures Rating:
Days 1 & 2: Fly Overnight to Oslo, Norway / City Tour
Depart North America on your overnight flight to Oslo. On arrival, check in to your Oslo hotel and embark on a city tour to discover highlights of Norway's compact, easily navigable capital. At Vigeland Park, stroll among the famous sculptures, hundreds of life-size human figures set in parkland. At the Fram Museum, observe the famous wooden ship sailed by Norwegian polar explorers Nansen and Amundsen and learn about early polar voyages. The evening is at leisure, with dinner on your own.
Day 3: Oslo / Longyearbyen / Embark Ship
Depart Oslo on a chartered flight north to Svalbard. Weather permitting, enjoy magnificent views of Norway's mountains and fjords below, before we cross the Barents Sea to reach Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of Svalbard and its largest town. Embark the National Geographic Explorer, with lunch served aboard.
Days 4–16: Exploring Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland
Our day-to-day itinerary, in keeping with the expeditionary nature of our voyage, is a carefully constructed framework based on decades of Lindblad experience in this dynamic Arctic region. We take full advantage of our human resources—our experienced captain, crew, expedition leader and naturalist staff—as well as our technological resources, to plan an optimal 2-week route for exploring our three destinations. Tapping the latest satellite imagery, we’ll chart where the ice is impenetrable and where open leads exist, guiding us to exciting discoveries. Our ship's ice-strengthened hull and forward-searching sonar, plus agile Zodiacs and kayaks, allow us to make forays among the icebergs. Our undersea specialist will deploy the ROV below the surface, bringing back imagery that few, if any, have ever seen. And with two photographers on board, roving among guests to offer guidance, you’re certain to get your best photos ever.
Our adventure cruise begins in Svalbard, Norway's most northerly realm. This rugged archipelago, defined by deep fjords, ice-capped mountains and massive glaciers, lies above the Arctic Circle between 74 and 81 degrees north latitude, where the midnight sun never sets in summer. With our fully stabilized, ice-class expedition ship, we are able to probe deep into the pack ice where polar bears hunt. This largest of land predators is one of the main attractions of Svalbard, and nowhere do we have a better chance to see them on the sea ice that is their natural habitat. Join our spotters on the bridge as they scan for polar bears and other Arctic wildlife such as walrus, bearded and ringed seals, reindeer and Arctic fox. Keep an eye out, too, for humpback, fin and beluga whales, and if we're very fortunate, perhaps a glimpse of a rare bowhead whale. Varied daily activities immerse us in our Arctic environs as we paddle kayaks among frosty blue icebergs, hike through wildflowers dotting green tundra tussocks, and drift before the face of tidewater glaciers waiting for shards of ice to calve, creating an explosion of spray.
Days of discovery unfold as we pursue the wonders of the Arctic wilderness, tracing unknown shores backed by endless ridgelines of unnamed peaks. Following the ice edge to the west and south, our captain masterfully navigates among the icebergs as we aim to reach Scoresbysund on Greenland's east coast. This vast sound encompasses one of the largest fjord systems in the world, whose watery arms cover nearly 15,000 square miles. It is named for English explorer William Scoresby, who mapped the area in detail in 1822. The longest fjord in the system extends 216 miles inland from the coastline, while the deepest is more than 4,700 feet. The region will be just beginning to awaken from winter's long, icy grip, and it's possible that the ice may be unrelenting, prohibiting access. If this is the case, we'll turn south and head for Iceland.
Iceland's wild west coast marks the finale of our journey, and we call at Isafjordur, a fishing town of about 2,600 that's capital of the far-flung Westfjords region. During our exploration of this remote peninsula on Iceland's northwest shoulder, we visit Latrabjarg, the largest bird cliffs in Europe, rising 1,443 feet from the sea. This huge rock promontory, Iceland's most westerly point, is home to millions of seabirds including Atlantic puffins, northern gannets, guillemots and a huge population of razorbills, 40 percent of the world's total. Continuing southward, we stop at Flatey Island in Breidafjordur Bay. Little over a mile long and a half-mile wide, tiny Flatey is home to more sheep than people. Its handful of residents live in the charming village in 19th-century sod-roofed houses painted in cheerful colors, and they get around on foot or horseback: no cars are allowed on the island.
Day 17: Reykjavik / Disembark / Depart
Our Arctic maritime adventure concludes in Iceland’s lively capital city, Reykjavik. Enjoy a guided overview of the old town, steeped in Viking history, and relish a soak at the famous Blue Lagoon thermal baths before transferring to Iceland's international Keflavik Airport for homeward flights.
All This Included
More than a thousand years ago, intrepid Viking explorers from Scandinavia set out to discover what lay to the north and west of their Norse homelands. Centuries later, we pursue our own Arctic travel in their wake, making similar discoveries as we trace Viking routes to Iceland, Greenland and the far northern realm of Svalbard, a frozen archipelago home to polar bears, throngs of seabirds and thriving marine life. Sailing from Oslo, we head north into the Barents Sea to Spitsbergen Island, our first port of call. Cruising the western edge of Svalbard, we continue into the Greenland Sea and down the rugged icebound coast of the world's largest island, torn by fjords and covered with a permanent ice cap two miles deep at its thickest point. Crossing the Denmark Strait, our voyage is complete with a survey of the northwest corner of Iceland, the least-visited region of this small island nation on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
Cruising: Cabin onboard National Geographic Explorer
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.