Journey To The Great North is a very special photography tour to one of the northernmost inhabited places in the world. This tour to Svalbard and the Norwegian arctic was designed for adventurers, explorers, nature lovers and photography enthusiasts of all levels. During this nine day winter tour, you will experience the magical 24h Polar Night in Svalbard, the mesmerizing spectacle of the Aurora Borealis near Tromsø, and create lasting memories of the endless beauty of the frozen world. During this photography tour, Karim Sahai will share the techniques and concepts behind his award-winning images and empower you to produce your best photographs in Svalbard and Norway.


Dates: 23-31 December 2017
Tour leader: Karim Sahai
Price: 3600 € (twin share)
Single supplement: 600 €
Deposit: 700 €
Group size: 12 max
Arrive and depart: Oslo, Norway
Accommodation: hotel, traditional sami lavvu
Meals: breakfast



Svalbard is a high Arctic archipelago between Norway and the North Pole. Deep fjords, ice-capped mountains, massive ice sheets and magnificent Northern Lights are some of delights of this land of polar bears and ice. Located at At 78 degrees North, Longyearbyen is the world’s northernmost inhabited settlement and Svalbard’s largest. Originally established as a coal mining outpost at the beginning of the 20th century, Longyearbyen (and Svalbard) remain off the beaten track for most people. Around 2000 people live permanently in Longyearbyen. Several hundred of them are employed by Store Norske – a coal mining company. There are also 400 students attending courses at The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)

Northern Norway

The deep north of Norway is one of the world’s most beautiful destinations and the ultimate winter wonderland. Here, jagged mountain peaks rising from the ocean don thick covers of snow, and the low-lying winter sun casts a magical and ephemeral glow just a few hours a day. Northern Norway is considered one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. While the thought of spending a week in the arctic in winter may sound extreme, the reality is that the Norwegian arctic enjoys a much milder climate than other parts of the world at the same latitude, thanks to the warmer air transported by Gulf Stream.



Day 1 Meeting at Oslo Gardemoen airport. Flight to Longyearbyen, Svalbard. As the flight progresses towards Svalbard, we slowly transition to the Polar Night. Keep an eye out for the Aurora Borealis though the airplane windows! Hotel check-in. In the afternoon we go on a guided sightseeing tour of the polar outpost of Longyearbyen and its region. There will be many photo opportunities and we may even see the unique Svalbard reindeers!

Day 2 Breakfast. Experience the true North and travel like explorers did many centuries ago! We travel to the husky dog yard for an exciting mini dog sledding expedition in the picturesque frozen landscapes of the Advent valley. We will be briefed on dog sledding safety, meet our excited and very friendly huskies and proceed to harnessing them. We review snow driving basics and… off we go! Feel free to join the Christmas mass at Svalbard Kirke, the world’s northernmost church (optional). Traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner.

Day 3 Breakfast. We plunge into the heart of Svalbard and explore Gruve 3, an eerie polar coal mine abandoned in 1996. It’s the last hand-operated mine on Spitsbergen island and one of the world’s northernmost mines. Everything here is in the same place as it was 20 years ago, when the mine was abandoned: coal wagons gathering dust, shovels, hammers leaning on the walls, stained coffee mugs, hydraulic jacks waiting for the miners to return… Though it’s the afternoon, the Polar Night is still on. We venture out for a unique photographic exploration using a powerful snowcat vehicle. This tank-like vehicle takes us into areas where the magic of the Polar Night can be experienced at its fullest. If we’re lucky, the Aurora Borealis will be dancing in the sky.

Day 4 Breakfast. Like true adventurers, we travel further afield by snowmobile, the best vehicle for this Arctic climate. Our 3 hour expedition takes us deep into the winter wonderlands of Spitsbergen island. Marvel at the incredibly bright stars and fast-moving satellites above, while the magical crisp glittering ice all around us makes this adventure one you will remember for the rest of your life. Warm drinks provided.


Part 2 – NORWAY

Day 5 Breakfast and morning at leisure. We leave the High Arctic and fly to Tromsø, arguably one of the very best locations in the world to observe and photograph the Aurora Borealis.

Day 6 Today we navigate around Tromsø to see some of the world’s biggest marine mammals: humpback whales, killer whales (orca), dolphins and, with luck, the spectacular arctic light will follow us. We take a 1h break before heading out to Camp Tamok and spend the night in the Alps, in warm traditional Sami huts. We are in a true winter- wonderland. Do not expect to sleep much as the Aurora Borealis is almost guaranteed to be present!

Day 7 Breakfast. Santa is now on holiday but his helpers want to meet us! Reindeer pick us up for a fantastic sledding tour in the mountains. The blue hues and the snow-covered landscapes will keep you and your camera very busy once again. We return to Tromsø at around 4pm and take the time to relax and enjoy one of the world’s northernmost cities.

Day 8 Breakfast. Early in the morning we depart on an adventure to Polar Park, the world’s northernmost animal sanctuary. Polar Park is home to Norway’s large predators such as bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines and foxes, as well as their prey such as deer, elk, reindeer and musk ox. The highlight of our time at Polar Park is an unforgettable meeting with a pack of wolves, at close quarters! There are less than 90 wolves living in the wild in Norway, so this is sure to be a unique experience. In the afternoon we will head back to Tromsø.

Day 9 Breakfast and transfer to Tromsø airport. We board our flight to Oslo where our Journey To The Great North will end. You are free to explore the Norwegian capital today.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Although the information about this tour is provided in good faith and has been prepared with care, it is subject to change. This information does not form part of the contract between the client and Full Life Photo Adventures. We sometimes make improvements to our itineraries. When making adjustments to the itineraries, our objective is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. While we try to follow the itinerary, on occasion, it may be desirable or necessary to make alterations.

Accommodation in Svalbard

Radisson Blu Polar Hotel

Radisson Blu Polar Hotel is the world’s northernmost full service hotel in the heart of Longyearbyen. 

  • double rooms
  • private facilities
  • free high speed wifi
  • breakfast buffet included



Accommodation in Tromsø

Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora

A modern hotel in the center of Tromsø.

  • double rooms
  • private facilities
  • free high speed wifi
  • free gym
  • free hot tub on the roof
  • breakfast buffet included
  • afternoon sweets (3-6pm) included


Traditional Lavvu at Camp Tamok

Camp Tamok, in the Northern Lights heartland, is located 75 km outside of Tromsø in an area with optimal conditions for experiencing the Northern Lights. Although it is located only 30 minutes from the coastline, it is in a different and drier climate zone, with clear inland mountain weather. The dry climate generates many cloud-free night skies in winter.

You will sleep in our winter sleeping bags, on top of several reindeer skins in a traditional Lavvu (Sami Tent).

  • 12-person Lavvu
  • personal sleeping bag
  • shared facilities
  • dinner, lunch and breakfast included


Clarion Hotel The Edge

Clarion Hotel The Edge is situated right in the centre of Tromsø, just by the water, which offers a stunning reflection of its innovative architecture.

  • double rooms
  • private facilities
  • free wifi
  • breakfast included


Pricing & Dates

Dates: 23-31 December 2017
Adventure leader: Karim Sahai
Price: 3600 € (twin share)
Single supplement: 600 €
Deposit: 700 €
Group size: 12 max
Arrive and depart: Oslo, Norway
Lodging: hotel, traditional Lavvu
Meals: breakfast

Group size

For the comfort and enjoyment of all, the group is limited to a maximum of 12 travelers.


  • Flights Oslo to Longyearbyen /Longyearbyen to Tromso /Tromso to Oslo.
  • 4 nights at Radisson Blu Polar Hotel (breakfast included)
  • A cultural and historical introduction to Longyearbyen
  • Dogsledding in Longyearbyen
  • Christmas dinner buffet in Longyearbyen
  • Visit to an abandoned mine in Longyearbyen
  • Snowcat adventure in Longyearbyen
  • Snowmobile adventure in Longyearbyen
  • Transfer from Tromsø Airport to a hotel
  • 1 night in Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora in Tromso (dinner and breakfast included)
  • Whale watching Safari by Catamaran in Tromso
  • 1 night in a traditional Sami tent (Lavvu) in Camp Tamok (full board, transfer to and from Camp Tamok)
  • Northern Lights chase in Camp Tamok
  • Reindeer sledding in Camp Tamok
  • 1 night at Clarion Hotel The Edge (breakfast included)
  • Polar Park with Wolf Visit activity (transfer, breakfast and lunch included)
  • Transfer from a hotel to Tromsø Airport

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

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: Sturdy insulated and comfortable winter boots are a must. The ‘Chilkats’ boots by North Face or equivalent are ideal. We also recommend bringing an extra pair of shoes which can be worn indoors. Base layer socks that take sweat away from your feet are also a must. Ensure each layer leaves room for your toes to move so that blood can circulate freely. We recommend to bring half a dozen pairs of quality merino wool socks. Although not vital, gaiters, are also recommended as they will help prevent snow from entering your boots.

Headwear: A very large percentage of body heat is lost via the head. 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 nights. High quality face and lip moisturizers are also very important. An essential piece of equipment is a head torch. Ideally, its intensity will be adjustable. The torch will be particularly handy when setting up your camera and tripod. A torch onto which a red filter or gel can be attached will help save your night vision as well as avoid blinding or ruining the pictures of fellow workshop participants.
Hand protection: Your gloves 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 quickly when photographing in the Arctic.

Photography in cold weather

Most digital SLRs cope well with sub-zero temperatures. However, a few tips about cold climate photography are in order. While your equipment won’t suffer any damage going from warm to cold, particular attention must be paid when going from cold to warm. In this instance, condensation will form on lenses and inside cameras. To avoid a potentially damaging accumulation of moisture we recommend putting your camera and lenses inside a large plastic bag, enclosing some of the cold air inside the bag, before walking into a warmer environment (car, hotel). Batteries are much less efficient in cold weather. As a rough guide plan to take 2-3 times the number of batteries you’d need in temperate climates. In addition, we recommend chemical hand warmers them to keep batteries warm when outdoors, at night or to keep batteries closer to your body to keep them warm. Turning off shot preview and delaying the previewing of images until you are indoors will ensure your batteries last longer when photographing in the cold.

Recommended photography equipment

To make the most of your trip, 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 (ideally, longer than 100 mm)
  • mechanical or electronic shutter release
  • sturdy tripod with adjustable head
  • several memory cards
  • memory card reader
  • laptop with photo editing software
  • portable hard drive(s) for backup
 (HyperDrive ColorSpace or equivalent)

Trip Highlights

  • Experience the Polar Night in Svalbard
  • Mini dog sledding expedition
  • Explore an abandoned coal mine in Longyearbyen
  • Snowmobile trip in Spitsbergen's frozen valleys
  • Photograph whales and orcas in arctic waters near Tromsø
  • Overnight in a traditional Sami Lavvu tent
  • Reindeer sledding in the Lyngen Alps
  • Unforgettable encounter with wolves at Polar Park
  • Many opportunities to photograph the Aurora Borealis
  • Gain great photography insights and techniques from Karim Sahai