Svalbard is a high Arctic archipelago between Norway and the North Pole. Deep fjords, snow-capped mountains, massive ice sheets and magnificent polar bears are some of the facets of this unforgettable adventure under the midnight sun. This expedition is a rare opportunity to experience nature in its purest form. During our Arctic adventure, we will discover the very symbol of the Arctic—the polar bear— and photograph them in their natural habitat.

Dates: TBA (Summer 2017)
Tour leader: Karim Sahai
Price: TBA
Deposit: TBA
Group size: 12
Arrive and Depart: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Accommodation: 2 nights hotel, 10 nights boat
Meals: on board: all meals, hotel: breakfast
Photography level: all levels

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Svalbard is an archipelago and the most readily accessible region of the polar north. Vast icebergs and floes choke the waterways, while ice fields and glaciers frost the horizon. 

Here, among the icy floes and fiords, you will experience polar bears in their natural habitat. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about this fierce yet endangered predator. Learn about Arctic history and ecology from our expert guides. Sit in wonder of the silence of the Arctic tundra and admire massive glaciers and breathtaking fjords. 

This is a voyage of non stop highlights, one where you’ll explore the landscape by ship, Zodiac boat and even on foot. What you experience here will leave an indelible mark.

Svalbard land of ice and polar bears photo expedition itinerary

 

Day 1 Longyearbyen. Thus where the journey commences. With a population of 2,060, Longyearbyen is the largest settlement of the archipelago, and the northern most town in the world! We will spend the night in preparation of our voyage.

Day 2 – 9 Svalbard Archipelago. Each day will be planned around the local ice and weather conditions. During the following days, we will traverse ice covered seas, into fjords with breathtaking mountain scenery and sail past imposing glaciers.

While Svalbard offers a wealth of natural gems for you to capture, we will spend  most of our time aboard in search of polar bears. Your staff will carry rifles and flare guns for your protection. However, there will be plenty of opportunities for other sights.

For the bird watchers among the group, ivory gulls and puffins will be a highlight. Keep your cameras at the ready for sightings of walruses beached on the ice floes or beaches. If the ice permits, we will visit spectacular bird cliffs, where murres and gulls gather by the thousands. A special sight is Svalbard’s unique subspecies of reindeer. Despite being smaller than their southern relatives, they still bear impressive antlers.

We will use the zodiacs to depart from our vessel and explore the sea ice up close. We will cruise around the floes and up to the ice edge. By going ashore at certain points, you will be able to experience the frozen tundra for yourself. Delight in the desert like soil and discover lichens, miniature grasses and even delicate flowers.

By not adhering to a strict itinerary, we will join in the expeditionary spirit of those that mapped out the Arctic before us. During our journey together, indulge in the camaraderie of your group and take advantage of the experience of your guides. Remember that this is also a place with a rich history, from whaling, reaching for the pole, coal mining and even war. We will stop at some of these historic sites.

The evening of our last day will find us anchoring at Longyearbyen.

Day 10 Longyearbyen. Today, we will offer transport to the Longyearbyen International Airport.

MS_Origo

 

M/S Origo is a traditional ship. It was built 1955 at Finnboda shipyard in Sweden for the Swedish Maritime administration as an ice-strengthen Pilot ship. It was on duty for the Administration until 1983, when it was sold and chartered out as a school ship. This is still the ship’s function during the winter months. Many young sailors have got their maritime education on the M/S Origo throughout the years. In the beginning of the 90s the vessel was carefully refurbished and rebuilt to a passenger ship with space for 24 passengers. Since then she M/S Origo has been cruising in the Arctic waters around Svalbard every summer. M/S Origo is in equipped with the latest navigation and security equipment. The ship is thoroughly maintained and goes through all safety controls with the Swedish maritime administration every year.

An Photo Adventure like this Svalbard expedition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Here i a bot of information to help you plan your Photo Adventure with us.

Pricing & Dates

Dates: TBA (Summer 2017)
Tour leader: Karim Sahai
Price: TBA
Deposit: TBA
Group size: 12
Arrive and Depart: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Lodging: 2 nights hotel, 10 nights boat
Meals: on board: all meals onboard
Photography level: all levels

Group size

While M/S Origo can host 24 guests, our experience shows that a photography expedition to Svalbard is much more enjoyable when the group size is limited to 12 participants. More space means that you will be more comfortable, have more space for your photography equipment, for photo editing, charging batteries, backing up memory cards; and to rest when we are navigating in the Arctic Ocean.

Included

  • skipper & crew
  • all meals on M/S Origo
  • non- alcoholic beverages
  • safety equipment
  • fuel
  • landing permits
  • search and rescue insurance
  • harbour fees

Not included

  • travel to and from start and end points of the tour
  • alcoholic beverages
  • gratuities
  • phone calls
  • gifts
  • airline baggage fees
  • airport and departure taxes
  • travel insurance

What to wear

As you will be traveling well inside the Arctic Circle, it is essential that you dress to stay warm and dry.  Dressing in layers as oppose to using thick jumpers or jackets, is a far more effective way of keeping warm.  Combining a Gore-Tex outer layer with a fleece, is a good way of staying warm and dry. A ski or snowboarding jacket will be another good way of keeping warm while out and about.  We would recommend taking some warm gloves or mittens.  It may be an idea to take a couple of pairs, in case one gets wet.  Thermal undergarments are another worthy consideration.

For walking, it will be advisable to wear a sturdy pair of hiking boots.  Do break these in first to help prevent blisters.  Take some thick socks to help keep your feet warm and comfortable while walking.  Additionally, gaiters which can be worn over the top of the boots, will provide additional protection and help keep the boots as waterproof as possible. For the evenings, casual clothing will be fine, although warm clothing for sleeping in will be useful too!

During the months you’ll be visiting Svalbard, July – September, the average temperature is +5 C/41 F. Due to the wind chill factor, and when traveling to the eastern part of the archipelago, you may experience temperatures a few degrees below zero. There is normally very little rain in Svalbard, which is considered a semi-desert. When going ashore on the Zodiacs, make sure to wear waterproof jacket/trousers and Wellington boots. Below you will find some instructions on how to dress in polar climates, as well as an equipment checklist.

The key is to dress in three or more layers, which get rid of perspiration, insulate you from the cold and protect you from the wind. The layering method also allows you to easily adjust your clothing when the weather and temperatures change.

Base layer: we recommend polyester or merino top and bottom base layers. They are to be worn close to your skin and help take sweat away from the body while providing a first level of insulation.

Mid layer: these layers should fit over each other without restricting your movements. Arms and legs should move freely, blood circulation must not be restricted. These items should be micro fleece or natural wool. (natural fibers are warmer). There are synthetic materials of excellent quality for Arctic conditions. You can wear as many mid layers as feels comfortable to you. It is better to be too warm than too cold, (several layers are recommended in very cold or windy conditions).

Outer layer: your third coat layer will be insulating but its main objective is to repel the elements (wind, sleet, snow, rain). From experience, we feel down jackets made for extreme arctic conditions (-40 C) provide the comfort and warmth required for the Arctic climate. Your neck should be also be covered with a scarf or a neck buff made of polyester or wool. The jacket you end up choosing must ultimately be warm and comfortable. The North Face ‘Ice Jacket’ or similar are good options.

Footwear: lined-rubber waterproof boots for those wet zodiac landings are perfectly comfortable for short hikes but for longer hikes you need your ‘old faithful’ hiking boots. Carry them in a plastic bag and swap over once you are on land, but be sure to remember thermal socks as well.

Head: a very large percentage of body heat is lost via the head. Therefore it is essential you wear adequate insulation. Do bring a wool hat which won’t get in the way of your photography. Optionally, a balaclava will provide additional insulation on cold/windy days. High quality face and lip moisturizers are also very important.

Gloves: they should be waterproof and windproof. In addition, silk glove-liners are recommended as they avoid directly exposing the skin to the cold when gloves have to be removed. Hands are prone to becoming cold very quickly when photographing in Svalbard.

 

Packing list

  • ski jacket/sailing jacket (waterproof, windproof and breathable)
  • ski trousers/sailing trousers (waterproof, windproof and breathable)
  • warm hat
  • wind/water proof gloves
  • sturdy rubber boots –– a must for Zodiac shore landings
  • walking boots, if you prefer not to walk in rubber boots after landing
  • shoes with rubber soles to wear on board
  • any medicine that you use
  • pills, wrist bands or patches for seasickness
  • PET plastic water bottle
  • swimsuit (in case you get the opportunity to take a polar plunge)
  • folding seating pad, so that you can fit it in your backpack and with a handle so that you can tie it to yourself during excursions

 

Recommended photography equipment

To make the most of your Svalbard Photography Adventure, we highly recommend that you bring:

  • 1 or 2 digital camera bodies, preferably digital SLRs
  • camera charger & several camera batteries (at least 2)
  • wide angle lens or zoom (24 mm or wider)
  • medium range lens or zoom (24 to 85 mm)
  • telephoto lens or zoom (70-300mm , ideally, longer)
  • mechanical or electronic shutter release
  • sturdy tripod with adjustable head
  • gimbal head or monopod for super telephoto lens (if you bring one)
  • several memory cards
  • memory card reader
  • laptop with photo editing software
  • portable hard drive(s) for backup
 (HyperDrive ColorSpace or equivalent)

Binoculars: arctic terns, diving skuas, northern fulmar, snow buntings and Svalbard rock ptarmigans are just a taster of what to expect. Bring a field book and pencils should you want to log what you’ve seen.

Adventure highlights

  • visit Longyearbyen, one of the northernmost settlements in the world
  • get up close to walruses at Prins Karls Forland
  • observe and photograph polar bears throughout our expedition
  • learn about Arctic history and ecology
  • meet seals on ice floes or beaches
  • capture unique birdlife during the entire expedition
  • digital photography workshops onboard