Land of the Ice Bears: An In-Depth Exploration of Arctic Svalbard
11 days with Natural Habitat Adventures Rating:
Day 1: Fly Overnight to Oslo, Norway
Depart North America on an overnight flight to Oslo, Norway’s capital and largest city.
Day 2: Oslo City Tour
Arrive in Oslo and enjoy a tour of this lively, sophisticated coastal city where each year the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in the presence of the king of Norway. Our introduction begins with a stroll among the famed Vigeland sculptures—hundreds of life-size human figures set in rolling parkland. Our next stop is the Fram Museum, named for the restored 19th-century ship on display and dedicated to Norwegian polar explorers Fritjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. The evening is free to try one of the harborside restaurants or turn in early to rest up after a long stretch of travel.
Day 3: Oslo / Longyearbyen / Embark Ship
Depart Oslo on our private chartered flight to Longyearbyen. Located on the island of Spitsbergen, Longyearbyen is the administrative center and largest settlement in Svalbard, with about 2,100 residents. We transfer to the pier to embark our ship, the National Geographic Explorer, which will be our floating base for the next week as we go in search of Svalbard polar bears and other Arctic wildlife.
Days 4–9: Exploring Svalbard
The itinerary for our Arctic adventure is truly exploratory by design, and our exact day-to-day movements will remain flexible in order to accommodate local conditions and pursue the best wildlife watching in the best locations. We'll spend six glorious days cruising among the icebergs that drift along Svalbard's rugged coast, utilizing our onboard fleet of Zodiacs to get close to the shoreline and access land for guided hikes. Our focus is on polar wildlife and while polar bears are a top draw, of course, we'll also look for drifting seals, noisy herds of walrus, reindeer on the move and the elegant Arctic fox. As we cruise in Svalbard's dramatic fjords, we get close to the face of tidewater glaciers, waiting for the telltale rumble and crack that signals an explosive calving. Via Zodiac and kayak, we make our way among the icebergs at eye level, admiring the palette of blue and aqua reflected in the ice crystals. Ashore, we learn about Svalbard's geology and hardy plant life, including the miniature wildflowers that bloom here in high summer, providing dots of color in this otherwise monochrome landscape.
Day 10: Longyearbyen / Disembark / Oslo
Our polar bear expedition concludes as the National Geographic Explorer returns to port in Longyearbyen today. After we disembark, we'll have a chance to explore the town a bit before flying back to Oslo this afternoon. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel near the airport.
Day 11: Oslo / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your departing flights.
All This Included
A High Arctic archipelago lying north of Norway between the Barents and Greenland seas, Svalbard is just 600 miles from the North Pole. This rugged realm of deep fjords, jagged mountains and massive sheets of ice is warmed by the midnight sun during the endless days of the northern summer. Svalbard is one of the best places on Earth to see polar bears on the sea ice, their natural habitat. We may observe frolicking cubs and adults hunting for seals on ice floes—all on display from the proximity and safety of our ship’s deck rail, and our fleet of Zodiacs for closer discovery. Our onboard naturalists are ace spotters, and while we regularly see more than a hundred polar bears in a season, it's not the number of sightings that count as much as the quality—we frequently spy them at thrilling close range along with a host of other Arctic wildlife!
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.