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Polar Bear Quest: A Voyage Through Svalbard
Sorry. There are no scheduled departures for this expedition.
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
An itinerary from a previous expedition is displayed below.
Day 1 Depart USADepart this evening on your independent flight to Oslo.
Day 2 Oslo, NorwayArrive in Oslo this afternoon and walk to our airport hotel. Lunch is on your own and the day is at leisure to explore this charming capital. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner at our hotel.
Day 3 Oslo / Tromsøe / Embark Clipper Adventurer
This morning depart on your independent flight to Tromsøe, known as the “Gateway to the Arctic” and enjoy a tour of this charming university city that has also been the launching point for many polar expeditions. A cable-car ride up the 1,800-foot Mount Storsteinen affords fabulous views. We visit the unique Arctic Cathedral, built in 1965 and famous for its dazzling wall of blue and gold stained glass—one of the largest stained glass windows in Europe. Its pendulous chandeliers represent hanging ice formations. We also visit the Polar Museum where exhibits offer a look at the city’s history as a center for Arctic hunting and the starting point for Arctic expeditions. This evening embark the Clipper Adventurer for our first dinner and overnight as we sail northward.
Day 4 Skarsvaag / North Cape
This morning we go ashore in Skarsvaag and drive up to the 1,000-foot-high plateau that rises from the Barents Sea. The community of North Cape (Nordkapp) is commonly referred to as the northernmost point of the European continent. English explorer, Richard Chancellor, sailed past the cape in 1553 while searching for a northeast passage. Here an impressive edge-of-the-world Visitors Center features historical exhibits and a film about the region.
Day 5 Bear Island (Bjørnøya)
For nearly three centuries, Bear Island—which sits halfway between North Cape and Svalbard—was the home of a major Barents Sea whaling station. Today, thousands of fulmars, kittiwakes, murres, dovekies, and multiple varieties of gulls make their home on the jagged cliffs and rocky pinnacles that rise vertically from the sea—often enshrouded in a mystical fog. We cruise by Zodiac along the eroded cliffs and make a landing for a tundra walk among seasonal Arctic wildflowers and to search for Arctic fox.
Day 6-12 Svalbard Archipelago
The next seven days are spent exploring the rugged coastline, spectacular narrow fjords, and offshore islands of the Svalbard Archipelago. The nature of polar expeditions requires flexibility regarding the daily schedule of activities. If the weather and ice conditions are in our favor, we may offer landings before breakfast, or even after dinner. Our primary goal is to locate wildlife, which is found here in abundance during the short summer season. Many varieties of seabirds nest in great profusion along the steep cliffs surrounding the islands. In addition to walrus haul-outs, bearded, ringed, and harp seals can be seen basking on ice floes. Throughout our time in Svalbard we keep a watch for polar bears. Though the expeditionary nature of our voyage precludes guaranteeing specific stops, we plan to visit the following places: Hornsund Spitsbergen is the largest island of the Svalbard Archipelago. Its southernmost fjord, Hornsund, is back-dropped by soaring mountain peaks and rolling tundra which bursts into bloom during the summer. The Polish research station, established here in 1957, is a base for international research and exploration. Numerous seabirds soar overhead and Arctic foxes and groups of reindeer are often spotted in the vicinity. Danskøya Island This island was a whaling station in the 17th century, but is better known for its important role in several unsuccessful attempts to reach the North Pole by balloon. Solomon Andree, the Swedish balloonist, departed from here with two companions in 1897 in an attempt to fly over the North Pole and was never seen alive again. In 1907, and again in 1909, American explorer Walter Wellman flew north from the island in the airship America. Both flights had to be abandoned due to mechanical failure. Remains of both of these expeditions can still be found on the island. Amsterdamøya Island This historic island was the site of a Dutch and Danish whaling station founded in 1617. Today, few visible signs exist of the settlement of Smeerenburg, although the careful observer can find remnants of the station’s ovens and a burial ground for those who perished here. Liefdefjorden In this dramatically scenic fjord, rugged mountains rise from the permanent ice cap and the Monaco Glacier spills into the sea at the deepest part of the waterway, a favored feeding ground for thousands of kittiwakes. Whales and seals are also common sights. Lågøya Island Zodiacs bring us to Lågøya where we search for the elusive polar bear which has been spotted hunting here in the past. Hinlopen Strait Rounding the northern tip of Spitsbergen, conditions permitting, we enter the 90-mile-long Hinlopen Strait which divides Spitsbergen from ice-clad Nordaustlandet. Glaciers, chiseled fjords, and icebergs hallmark this desolate and exquisitely beautiful region. Here we board Zodiacs to watch for and photograph bearded, harp, and ringed seals; occasionally, lone polar bears are spotted here; and thousands of thick-billed murres nest on spectacular basalt pillars. Edgeøya Island Edgeøya is the third largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago and home to large herds of reindeer, which in turn supports a healthy population of predators, including the mighty polar bear. Bellsund The name Bellsund is derived from the bell-shaped mountain near the entrance to this fjord. Here we can see the dramatic faults and folds created when the Eurasian continental plate collided with the Greenland plate 50-60 million years ago. Large breeding colonies of kittiwakes and thick-billed murres crowd the shelves and outcroppings of this rugged landscape.
Day 13 Longyearbyen / Disembark Clipper Adventurer / Oslo
This morning we disembark in Longyearbyen and explore this former Arctic mining town and capital of Svalbard. The brightly colored buildings are quite photogenic and house a variety of small shops and restaurants. In the afternoon board your flight to Oslo and walk to our airport hotel for dinner and overnight.