Svalbard – The Arctic Circle

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Gallery

  • Svalbard on a map
  • Eating outside in Svalbard
  • Scenic View of Svalbard
  • Water in Svalbard
  • Scenery is Svalbard
  • Activities in Svalbard
  • Jet-skiing in Svalbard
  • Hiking in Svalbard
  • Dogsledding in Svalbard
  • Snowmobiling in Antarctica
  • Svalbard Polar Bear
  • Animals in Svalbard
  • Svalbard Seals

ARCTIC WILDLIFE SUMMER CRUISE

From your brief, we create an adventure unrivalled in creativity and meticulously planned.

Picked for their expertise and unparalleled access to areas far off the beaten track, we can open closed sites, close public temples, explore isolated reefs via submarines and remodel superyachts for additional helicopters.

The following pages are the tip of the iceberg of what our experiences entail. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and further planning your next journey without limits.

Svalbard is an archipelago that constitutes the northernmost parts of Norway. Its name, literally translated, means ‘cold coasts’ yet this translation over-simplifies the diverse nature of this archipelago. It is a land of immense beauty and contrasts.

Despite being relatively near to the North Pole and 60% of its land covered in glacier, Svalbard plays host to a plethora of flora and animals that take advantage of the long periods of midnight sun from June-September.

Svalbard is an assault on the senses; vast icebergs and floes choke the seas, and ice fields and glaciers frost the lonely heights. However, under closer inspections these harsh conditions reveal the lichens, miniature grasses and delicate little flowers that manage to sustain themselves in the desert soil.

The environment also supports larger creatures too: you can expect to catch a glimpse of whales, seals, walruses, Artic Foxes, squat Svalbard Reindeer – and Polar Bears aplenty.

The beauty and contrasts of this archipelago allow for you to partake in an action-packed itinerary or, if you prefer, simply indulge in some needed rest and relaxation against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery.

The dramatic seasons, rich natural beauty and awe- inspiring scenery of Svalbard make it the perfect location for the adventure of a lifetime.

As August approaches, the snow so often associated with Svalbard, begins to melt and small flowers peek up from the wintry expanses. A rush of bird activity replaces the chilly quiet of the polar winter and the imposing mountains, valleys, and glaciers can be experienced up close in the around-the clock sunlight.

In order to maximise your experience throughout Svalbard we recommend basing yourself off a comfortable yacht, allowing you to move between the different islands.

Svalbard is, unsurprisingly, cold and so a top level of accommodation makes the experience truly wonderful.

To take an adventure to Svalbard further we recommend chartering an icebreaker class vessel
to plough through the ice either towing your accommodation vessel or transporting you from the latter further into the ice.

We are experienced at chartering both types of vessel and can tailor them to match your requirements for a trip to Svalbard.

As you would expect 80 degrees north of the equator and only 800 miles from the North Pole, Svalbard is, even in summer, mainly made of rock, snow and ice. That said, parts of the island do thaw and indigenous flora does rear its head.

For the most part though the archipelago is made up of towering cliffs, sparkling glaciers, hundreds of miles of icy water with drifting icebergs and vast snow fields.

Whether admiring Svalbard from your vessel, or on foot and vehicle, the dramatic scenery leaves everyone who visits left in awe.

POLAR BEARS

These giant predators only lose their cuddly image once you are on the ice a few hundred feet away from them. It is then that their immense size and power becomes apparent.

Weighing up to 700kg and reaching up to 10 feet in height when standing on their hind legs, polar bears are great and hardy hunters.

Despite often being spoken of as critically endangered, they are in fact classified as a Vulnerable Species.

Our expert guides will take you in search of these beautiful animals as they hunt across the vast ice and snowscapes.

SEALS

There are three main species of seals that inhabit Svalbard, the ringed seal, the bearded seal and the harbour seal. The most common of the three, the Ringed seal, has become so widespread due to its ability to maintain breathing holes in the fast ice year round.

The bearded seal is the largest of all three species, with the females weighing up to 425 kg, surpassing the weight of any male bearded seal. Bearded seals tend to prefer shallow areas of water and can be seem most of the day resting on ice-floes.

The largest concentration of harbour seals can be found on Prins Karls Forland and Spitsbergen, depending on the time of year. They operate in small social groups and weigh in at a mere 100 kg.

GUILLEMOTS

Every May and June, when the ice starts its retreat clearing the tundra of snow and ice, millions of birds make the flight to Svalbard for its abundant food and its, relatively, safe breeding spots.

Despite the numbers that flock here, there is a wealth of variety with over 30 species regularly breeding on the islands. This said, the guillemot is one specie that has become ubiquitous with Svalbard, nesting in steep dolerite cliffs on Spitsbergen.

Nearly one million of these cliff-nesting birds can be found in Svalbard at the optimum time of year. These birds are curious in that they sit upright like a penguin but also have the ability to fly. The guillemot is a strong diver, fishing hundreds of feet beneath the ocean surface and though capable of flight, these birds are clearly much more efficient under the waves.

We offer a unique experience in the shadows of these enormous cliffs: snorkel and dive with sub- aquatic birds and see how they hunt underwater.

ARCTIC FOX

The arctic fox is an incredibly hardy animal that can survive Arctic temperatures as low as –58°F (-50°C) in the treeless lands where it makes its home. It
has furry soles, short ears, and a short muzzle—all important adaptations to the chilly clime. Arctic foxes live in burrows, and in a blizzard, they may tunnel into the snow to create shelter.

Arctic foxes have beautiful white (sometimes blue-gray) coats that act as very effective winter camouflage. The natural hues allow the animal to blend into the tundra’s ubiquitous snow and ice. When the seasons change, the fox’s coat turns as well, adopting a brown or gray appearance that provides cover among the summer tundra’s rocks and plants.

These colourings help foxes to effectively hunt rodents, birds, and even fish. In winter prey can be scarce on the ground and at such times, arctic foxes will follow the region’s premier predator—a polar bear—to eat the leftover scraps from its kills. Foxes will also eat vegetables when they are available.

WALRUSES

Walruses are extremely social animals, forming tight groups whether on land or ice and when they travel. These creatures can only exist in a narrow ecological niche that includes availability of large areas of shallow water with suitable bottom substrate for them to feed on.

The walrus’s most distinctive feature is the external tusks, which are possessed by both males and females. Tusks can grow to be one meter long and weigh five kilograms in large bulls. Walruses are cinnamon-brown in colour but can appear white after diving or pink when they are warm, due to them redirecting the blood supply to different regions of their bodies.

Walruses have extremely thick leather, which
is heavily wrinkled and covered with tubercles
in males, particularly on the neck. Males are proportionally bigger in the neck and shoulders than females and are much larger overall.

SNOWMOBILING

Snowmobiling is the ultimate way to experience Svalbard’s spectacular Arctic wilderness, allowing you to reach places the average explorer cannot. Depending on the time of year and sea ice conditions, there is the potential to ski across the vast frozen ocean, witnessing Svalbard reindeer as you coast.

SNORKELLING/ SCUBA DIVING

We offer an unique experience in the shadows of the steep dolerite cliffs on Spitsbergen. We can provide the equipment to snorkel and/or scuba dive with the diving guillemots; watching them plummet from the cliff tops, down into the icy waters, stunning and capturing their prey beneath the surface.

DOG SLEDDING

You can experience dog sledding by day, depending on the time of year and sea ice conditions. At a rustic style trapper station, you will be greeted by your dogs. Experience the pure adrenalin of driving the sleds or simply relax as the dogs guide you through Svalbard’s often difficult, yet hauntingly beautiful terrain.

SEA KAYAKING

Sea kayaking allows you to leisurely paddle through icy waters, perhaps even glimpsing at the slowly increasing population of whales that are returning to Svalbard to feed on the rich plankton.

SEA TOYS

Zodiacs, tenders and jet skis allow you to scoot between floating ice bergs and explore the landscape on an intimate level.

ICE CAVES

Walk through a wonderland of glacial ice tunnels and sculptures. Meander through ice ridges and crevasses and if circumstances allow it, we will organise a private lunch or dinner in the cave itself.

HIKING

Svalbard is known for the majesty of its impressive glaciers and fjords. Kongsfjorden, a fjord on the west coast of Spitsbergen Island, has both tidewater and valley glaciers which can be explored.

As you walk along the glacier you can enjoy the views of sheer Precambrian metamorphic rock cliffs that house colonies of seabirds, whilst the more intrepid of hikers can enjoy looking down from an elevation of 500 feet at the beach.

PYRAMIDEN

Pyramiden, one of four mining settlements on the Svalbard archipelago, was established in 1910 by Sweden and named after the pyramid-shaped mountain rising above it. In the early 1930s, the Soviet State Trust Arctikugol bought the mines at Pyramiden, Grumant and Barentsburg.

Today, Barentsburg is the only one still in operation and even there the coal supply is dwindling. Remnants of the miners that used to inhabit these areas are visible all around: an abandoned miner’s cart, two petrol pumps, dried plants on window sills, books still on the library shelves.

Landscape of extraordinary beauty surrounds Pyramiden. High above Lenin, jagged peaks kiss the sky, the bright sunshine glitters in the deep blue waters of the Billefjord and across the bay and the icy blue Nordenskiöld glacier seems almost translucent.