This photo tour covers important parts of Svalbard with its glorious wildlife and amazing ice. One of the goals of this expedition is to sail to the Bowhead Whales, which live along the ice edge in the Greenland Sea. We will follow the routes of the 17th century whalers, who nearly exterminated the Atlantic whale population in the 18th century. This century we have indications that the Bowhead Whale populations are recovering all over the Arctic. The course of the expedition will be much dictated by the sea-ice and fjord ice.
The itinerary is subject to change.
Instead of our original plan of renting cabins on the ship, we have just changed this to a full charter. E.g. we will be the only ones on board, no other passengers, just us photographers. \o/ This also means we will have control over where the ship goes and stops. Circle around that iceberg two more times? You got it! Get a bit closer to that polar bear? Sure.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Spitzbergen, about this specific tour, about our vessel, the Noordenlicht, about the wildlife and why Svalbard is called the Galapagos of the Arctic:
After arriving in Longyearbyen, the ‘capital’ (actually the administrative centre) of Spitsbergen, you may wish to visit the Svalbard Museum which has an interesting collection on the history of Spitsbergen, the mining industry and polar exploration. In the evening we sail, setting course for Trygghamna where we will see the remains of a 17th century English whaling station and an 18th century Pomor hunting station, which we will visit the next morning.
Highlights : ✓ Svalbard Museum ✓ Longyearbyen
From Trygghamna we walk to Alkhornet a large seabird cliff, where the first birds are prospecting their breeding places. Below the cliffs is a den of Arctic Fox and Reindeer graze on the lush vegetation. In Forlandsundet we visit a haul out place of Walrus at Poolepynten or Sarstangen, if sea ice allows us. Highlights : ✓ Arctic Fox ✓ Alkhornet ✓ Svalbard Reindeer
In the morning we sail into Kongsfjord to the 14th of July Glacier where we cruise in zodiacs. Not far from the glacier we will visit a breeding site for Brünnich’s Guillemot, Auk and Puffin, which in this time of the year begin to prospect their breeding places. Alternatively we may sail into Magdalena Fjord one of the most beautiful places on Spitsbergen, with many impressive glacier faces. During a shore visit we will view the remains of 17th century English whaling activities.
Highlights : ✓ Puffin ✓ 14th of July Glacier ✓ Magdalenafjord
Today we will try to visit Ytre Norskøya, a small island which was used for many years as a lookout point for Dutch whalers. There we can still follow their tracks to the summit of the island. On shore the remains of 17th century blubber ovens can be found near the graves of 200 Dutch whalers. Alternatively we land at Smeerenburg on Amsterdamøya, where the Dutch whalers had a summer settlement where they processed the whale oil in the same period.
At sea sailing from 80 N to 76 N along and in the outer fringes of the ice edge looking for Bowhead Whales, Harp Seals, Hooded Seals, Polar Bears and migrating seabirds like Little Auks, Brünnichs Guillemots, and Kittiwakes.
Highlights : ✓ Sailing ✓ Whale spotting around Spitsbergen ✓ Bowhead Whale
At open sea with good chances for Northern Bottlenose Whales. Highlights : ✓ Northern Bottlenose Whale
Bell Sund is a fjord system with two major branches (Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord) and a side bay (Recherchefjord). The geology is fascinating and has created amazing landscapes, such as the long, narrow island of Akseløya that blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely. In Fridtjofhamna, the calving glacier Fridtjofbreen is surrounded by picturesque mountains. The rich wildlife of the area has attracted hunters throughout several centuries - we will walk in their footsteps and see remains of their huts - for example, at Ahlstrandhalvøya. Recherchefjord is one of the places in Spitsbergen with the highest concentration of historical sites, dating back to 17th century whalers. We see often Polar Bears and we have also seen Beluga (white whales) in this area. Much is depending on the fjord –ice how far we can sail into these fjords.
Highlights : ✓ Bell Sund ✓ Recherchefjord ✓ Glacier Fridtjofbreen
Departure by scheduled flight from Longyearbyen to Oslo.
The Noorderlicht was originally built in 1910 in Flensburg, Germany as a three-masted schooner. For most of her existence she served as a light-vessel on the Baltic. In 1991 the present owners purchased the hull and re-rigged and refitted her thoroughly, under the rules of Register Holland.
Perfect for expedition cruising among small islands
The Noorderlicht now has a well-balanced two-masted schooner rig and is capable of sailing the seven seas, and is therefore well suited for expedition cruising among small islands and offer good open deck viewing areas, even when under sail. The 2 inflatable zodiacs enable landing and wildlife viewing opportunities in otherwise inaccessible areas. The qualified captains have great experience of the oceans. Together with the rest of the crew, they will do everything possible to ensure that you have a wonderful and unforgettable journey.
The Noorderlicht provides accommodation for 20 travellers in comfortable twin cabins. All cabins have upper and lower berths, a cupboard and wash basin with hot and cold water. Shared shower (4) and toilet (5) facilities are conveniently located. Instead of portholes, the cabins have frosted glass in the ceiling, where the play of daylight shines into the cabins.
We have a waiting list for this tour. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list.
(receive sporadic emails with workshop updates)
Prices are per person in a double room. Single supplement: US$4950
To reserve your spot on the workshop, a non-refundable deposit of US$ 1000 is required.
The balance payment is due Jan 1 2017 (you will receive a separate invoice). Registrations after Jan 1 2017 date will receive an invoice over the full price.
Author: Chris Marquardt