- The best place in the Arctic to see polar bears in their natural habitat
- A 12 day high Arctic expedition deep inside the Arctic Circle only 600 miles from The North Pole
- Travel in the company of marine biologist, Monty Hall and photographer Sue Flood
- Sail onboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov and access Svalbard's most spectacular sites
Seeing a polar bear in its natural habitat is one of the natural world’s most remarkable sightings. For photographers, capturing images of polar bears can be the fulfilment of a long-held ambition and Spitsbergen is the perfect setting for such an endeavour. The wild and dramatic landscape of Spitsbergen provides the perfect backdrop for photographing polar bears and with Sue Flood and Monty Halls at your side, you are guaranteed expert advice to ensure you make the most of every opportunity. While polar bears are the poster boys of the Arctic, Spitsbergen is no one-trick pony. Take zodiac safaris and drift alongside towering glaciers stretching up to seven kilometres wide and eighty metres high; visit expansive cliffs that provide sanctuary to colonies of birds too numerous to count; photograph large herds of walrus on land and in the sea and sit patiently for the perfect moment to photograph exquisite ivory gulls on drift ice.
Days spent exploring Spitsbergen's untamed landscapes are made all the more poignant by the knowledge that the Arctic and its resident wildlife are overshadowed by the threats associated with climate change. There will be lectures on board that address this issue and you can be sure that our voyage will adhere to strict guidelines of sustainability and be conducted in a manner that is sympathetic to the environment and the wildlife.
When is the best time to visit Spitsbergen
With almost 24 hours of daylight, July is the best time to visit Spitsbergen. As the ice subsides, polar bears take refuge on land and on the edge of large ice floes, where they hunt for seals. Small tundra flowers are in bloom and the abundant birdlife creates a cacophony of noise with chicks keeping parents well occupied. The Arctic is teeming with wildlife at this time of year – expect to see species such as seals, arctic fox, reindeer, polar bears and whales.
Akademik sergey vavilov – an exceptional expedition ship
Stability, speed, manoeuvrability and a lack of ambient engine noise make the Akademik Sergey Vavilov an exceptional ice-strengthened expedition vessel. The Vavilov may not be the most luxurious ship on the Arctic seas but she is perfectly designed for a voyage of this nature and ideally capped at a maximum of 98 passengers. She has a range of cabins, from those with shared facilities through to spacious suites while social areas include a dedicated lecture room, lounge, bar and library. The bridge is open to passengers and a great place to watch for wildlife as are the multi-level outside deck areas. A fleet of 10 zodiacs are used for off-ship excursions.
An active expedition voyage
While viewing wildlife from the ship can be exhilarating, this voyage is more about time spent off the ship, exploring the Arctic landscape on foot and by zodiac. Daily guided excursions by zodiac cruise along glacier fronts, cliffs and shoreline, searching for polar bear, walrus and beautiful photographic opportunities. There will be plenty of opportunity to feel the Arctic tundra under your feet with guided walks on offer to see bird colonies, glaciers, historic sites and spectacular views.
Expert led voyage
The Vavilov's team of Arctic cruise specialists provide fascinating insight into polar history and the natural world but on our exclusive charter we felt compelled to augment their knowledge with a few of our own experts. Monty Halls is a marine biologist, photographer and explorer whom alongside the ships’ resident experts will give lectures on board and join clients on all excursions. Sue Flood is not only an exceptional photographer, at home in Arctic conditions, she is also an accomplished teacher and will be on hand to help clients take memorable photographs of Svalbard’s wildlife and landscapes.
Why a 12 day voyage?
Quite simply because you can see more. There are shorter (and therefore cheaper) voyages to Spitsbergen but these trips do not give the same level of exposure to the wildlife found in the High Arctic. This region is renowned for unpredictable weather and ice conditions so an extended voyage means you are more likely to have days when the weather and ice are favourable to seeing polar bears, whales, walrus and the other wildlife that has adapted to the Arctic conditions. On a 12 day voyage there is also the chance of doing a complete circumnavigation of the Svalbard archipelago – something that is not possible on the shorter voyages.
For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.