Svalbard Polar Bear Sailing Expedition
In August, we offer a photography expedition to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, located deep within the Arctic Circle. One of our main goals will be to find and photograph Polar Bears in its natural habitat out on the pack ice and Svalbard has historically been one of the most reliable places to photograph bears.
Together with the captain and our expedition leader, we will decide upon the best strategy to find and photograph Polar Bears on sea ice along with other charismatic Arctic wildlife, such as Walrus. Our success will depend on the ice condition and its location. In some years the ice is just off the northern tip of Svalbard while in other years it has retreated too far north to make it possible to sail there. In the case of the latter, we will search for Polar Bears that are on land in the northeastern part of the archipelago, where they are sometimes seen hunting on ice in front of glaciers. This is an expedition into a changeable environment and the element of surprise. The discovery of what wildlife is found where and when is a major part of the Svalbard experience.
The High Arctic is a place to inspire the imagination. Nowhere is it more accessible than the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, located deep within the Arctic Circle.
Polar bears – Normally between 10 and 20 Polar Bears are seen and photographed on each expedition
24 hour look-out – We have a 24-hour look-out for Polar Bears, so any time of the day, or night we can expect to have a Polar Bear shoot when the opportunity arises
Wildlife – Wildlife we hope to photograph: Polar Bears, Reindeers, Arctic Foxes, Seals, Walruses & birdlife, some of them are unique to the high north such as Ivory Gulls, Rock Ptarmigan, & Geese.
Whales – Sometimes whales are in the area, such as Blue whale, Fin whale and Humpbacks, but not promised
Amazing landscapes – Remote and unique wilderness with Ice bergs and wildlife
Small groups – Maximum number of participants: 12
Activity Level – Easy
Duration – 11 days / 10 nights
Professional Photography Guides – We offer local guides in Svalbard and our own guides
All-Inclusive Workshop – We’ll meet you in Svalbard and we take care of the rest
August 24 - September 3, 2023
Waitlist - Please contact us
- Deposit payment of $3,000 USD upon booking
- A further $5,000 is due December 2022
- Balance is due before March 2023
Total price: $13,900 USDSIGN UP
- Photography guiding by professional photographers and crew services
- 10 nights of accommodation aboard the ship
- The meals onboard shall consist of breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea/coffee and two-course dinner (three-course dinner the last evening)
- The mealtimes shall be held at regular times, but the catering crew has been informed that photography has priority on this expedition and flexibility is necessary
- Water coffee/tea ad libitum - available 24 hours a day
- Photography instructions and critique on demand from two highly experienced photo leaders along with Svalbard’s most experienced expedition leader
- Daily excursions by Zodiac (guests will be split into smaller groups per Zodiac due to limited seating)
- Lectures, briefings and shoreside interpretations
- Magnificent scenery and wonderful wildlife encounters
- Great company and safe and friendly travel
What's not included
- International flights – please contact our office for any assistance
- Hotel in Longyearbyen before and after the expedition
- Mandatory evacuation insurance – participants will require individual travel insurance
- Alcoholic drinks & any other drinks not mentioned above
- Customary tips for crew and staff
- Anything else not specified as included
Getting to Svalbard & our flexible itinerary
Arrival to Svalbard
We recommend arriving in Svalbard on August 23rd, 2023.
The expedition starts on August 24th, 2023 at 4 pm (16:00) when we board the boat at the dock.
You can take a taxi from your hotel to the dock.
Departure from Svalbard
We return to the dock in the evening on September 2nd, 2023. We can stay on the boat until 9 am (9:00) on September 3rd.
Flights can be arranged any time after we dock in the evening. There is often an early morning flight to Oslo, which is a popular option to book.
SAS and Norwegian fly to Longyearbyen in Svalbard from Oslo. We strongly recommend you arrive in Longyearbyen at least one day before the ship departs in case of lost luggage or delayed flights. There are a number of nice hotels in Longyearbyen and day tours can be taken out of town with local operators.
Please contact us for questions or assistance booking international flights (flights are not included) at email@example.com
Normally the seas we sail around Svalbard are smooth as there are sheltered fjords, but some crossings rougher seas can be expected. This is nothing to worry about though, not dangerous, but a patch or sea sickness pills are suggested if people are not used to boats
Upon leaving the small town of Longyearbyen we will know what we will aim for but our plans will change with what we find and with the ice and weather we encounter. Although Polar Bears will be high on our list of photography subjects, the full Svalbard experience is about so much more than the iconic Arctic predator. We will have 10 days to explore the islands and with the crew that is able to operate the ship around the clock, we can cover a great deal of terrain if we so choose.
As always, we will need to be flexible and adjust to the weather conditions to make the most out of the expedition and travel safely.
What to expect
Svalbard is situated at about 80 degrees north, so we schedule the expedition in accordance with prevailing weather and ice conditions. Even if it normally will be some changes in the planned itinerary this route cover the main areas we will visit. In August the drift ice edge can be situated further north and usually we spend time there searching for mainly Polar Bears.
Svalbard is situated at 78-79 degrees north and you are in the High Arctic when you arrive there. The weather is constantly changing at these latitudes. Please study the information about clothing and travels to Svalbard. During our expedition, you can expect to see wildlife as Polar Bears, Walruses, Seals, Whales, Arctic Foxes, Svalbard Reindeer and a variety of bird species that are common in these Arctic regions. Sometimes we do long transport legs of sailing and sometimes we stay in one spot experiencing and photographing nature and wildlife.
Locations in Svalbard
Places we may visit Ice & time permitting, include:
Kongsfjorden, a scenic fjord complex of dramatic mountains and sweeping glaciers,
housing Bearded and Ringed Seals, much flor, bird colonies and several options for shore landings.
NW Spitsbergen, an area of great beauty with glaciers, pointed mountain peaks and
many islands and inlets. Here we often see Polar Bears, Walrus, Harbour Seals, Beluga
Whales and many birds.
Liefdefjorden, a majestic fjord area with large glacier fronts, Polar Bears, numerous bird species, and frequently Beluga and Minke Whales.
Hinlopenstretet, which is often frequented by large baleen whales, houses Walrus, and
boasts the largest accessible auk colony on a spectacular vertical cliff face.
Seven Islands, the northernmost part of Svalbard, a truly spectacular icy home for Walrus and Polar Bears.
Locations in Svalbard
Places we might also visit are White Island, the easternmost part of Svalbard, as remote as anywhere you will ever get.
Bråsvellbreen, the northern hemisphere’s longest ice wall, at this time of year with
numerous beautiful waterfalls pouring off it.
Edgeøya, a large island offering numerous options for hikes across lush tundra plains,
studying flowers, breeding birds, Arctic Fox and Svalbard Reindeer – and often larger
Hornsund, massive glacier fronts, and dramatic scenery, with colonies of various bird
species and Ringed and Bearded Seals dotting the fast-ice, attracting Polar Bears.
For cancellation and refund policy for our workshops, please visit the Terms & Conditions page.
MS Virgo interior
MS Virgo interior
MS Virgo interior
MS Virgo interior
MS Virgo interior
MS Virgo in Hornsund, Svalbard
MS Virgo in Spitsbergen, Svalbard
The Expedition Ship – M/S Virgo
Our home away from home during the expedition will be the M/S Virgo. It will be newly remodeled especially for photography expeditions in the Arctic. M/S Virgo is a spacious boat with plenty of space for 12 guests and two guides. It was originally built in 1976 and has been a working vessel for the Swedish maritime authorities.
The boat has 9 cabins, 3 twin cabins, and 6 single-room cabins. All beds are made ready and bed linen and towels are provided for each guest. All cabins have private facilities with a shower and WC.
Cabins are assigned on first come first served when signing up for the expedition.
Foodservice will be at a designated time in our restaurant area, but as always we intend to be flexible for photo opportunities. The chef on board has a varied and tasty menu. Please let us know of any special dietary needs.
There is a spacious lounge with very good viewing opportunities and space for photo editing, charging batteries, listening to lectures, or just hanging out with other participants.