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Svalbard in Spring: Polar Bears, Arctic Light & Epic Ice

11 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
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Day 1: Oslo, Norway
Depart North America on an overnight flight to Oslo, Norway’s capital and largest city.
 
Day 2: Oslo City Tour
Upon arrival in Oslo, check in to our hotel before embarking on 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 Endurance, 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. As we cruise among beautiful icebergs, spring conditions are likely to let us set foot on the frozen ice right off the ship, too. Our focus is on polar wildlife. 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 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 later in the summer, providing dots of color in this otherwise monochrome landscape. Throughout this early-season journey, we will take advantage of the ever-changing light and mesmerizing photographic conditions.
 
Day 10: Longyearbyen—Disembark / Oslo
Our polar bear expedition concludes as the National Geographic Endurance returns to port in Longyearbyen today. After disembarking, you'll meet up with a local guide to take a short bus ride to Camp Barentz in the nearby Advent Valley for a taste of Arctic culture. Here, you’ll discover a unique collection of buildings including an authentic gamme, a traditional round building with an open fire in the center, and a lavvo, the traditional tent of the Sami people. Enjoy refreshments and meet some of the friendly sled dog huskies that reside at camp before you fly to Oslo and transfer to our hotel near the airport.
 
Day 11: Oslo / Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your departing flights. 

Map
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! 
 
  • Two hotel nights and shipboard accommodations
  • Most meals
  • Alcoholic beverages (except premium brands)
  • Excursions
  • Services of Lindblad Expeditions' Leader, naturalist staff and expert guides
  • Gratuities to ship's crew
  • Use of kayaks
  • All port charges and service taxes
Highlights
  • Encounter Arctic polar bears from the safety of our expedition ship—ice-cloaked Svalbard is one of the best places in the world to see them in their natural habitat.
  • Look for reindeer, Arctic fox, walrus, seals and a multitude of seabirds, approaching lively rookeries up close on Zodiac excursions and by kayak.
  • Learn about Arctic wildlife, geology, polar exploration and the contemporary challenges of climate change from our ship's complement of polar experts and naturalist guides.
Accommodations
Cruising: Cabin onboard National Geographic Endurance
Notes
  • Cabin upgrades are available.
  • Not included: Air transportation; personal items such as emails, laundry, DVD of voyage highlights, etc.; optional travel and/or medical evacuation insurance.
  • Internal airfare (roundtrip Oslo/Longyearbyen) is an additional $890 per person; price is subject to change.
  • Physical requirements: Easy to Moderate. This is an active expedition that requires mobility and good health. In order to participate, you must be able to walk unassisted for a minimum of one mile over rough and uneven terrain including rocky beaches, ice and snow. To participate in excursions ashore, you must walk down a steep gangway (steel ramp with stairs) and climb into and out of rigid inflatable Zodiac rafts, which can sometimes be unstable, depending on water and wind conditions. Travel via Zodiac occurs over variable conditions and can sometimes be quite bumpy. If it's windy, you may get wet from sea spray. Travelers with back problems or other health issues that could be exacerbated by such conditions should take this into consideration. Travelers must be prepared for any type of weather, including extreme conditions that may involve high winds, rain and snow. While seas are generally calm on this expedition, it's possible we could encounter rough conditions, which may cause issues for travelers prone to motion sickness. The National Geographic Explorer is fully stabilized, but we recommend that you discuss preventive medication with your physician, if you are susceptible to motion sickness. The ship carries a qualified physician who is available at any time in case of emergency, and whose services are provided free of charge, however, the limited infirmary carries only basic medicines and equipment.
  • Please note that the start date of this trip (Day 1) is the date that you leave your home airport. You will need to arrive in Oslo on Day 2 of the itinerary and depart Oslo on the final day. 
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Natural Habitat Adventures terms and conditions, please click here.

* 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.