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Svalbard Spitsbergen

Sailing expedition at the west coast of Svalbard - Basecamp Spitsbergen

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Overview
Details

Join us on the three-masted schooner Linden for a five-day sailing adventure in the pristine Arctic wilderness on Svalbard. We head out from Longyearbyen to discover the cold glacier coasts of Spitsbergen.

Sailing onboard S/V Linden is an excellent way to combine Arctic adventure with sailing, and will take you to the hidden gems of the west coast of Svalbard. As the breeze goes from gentle to moderate and strong, we watch the sails fill into three dimensional curved airfoils. Some of us are sitting comfortably with a book in hand and others are exhilirated at the top of the mast rigging the sails.

As we head to our next destination, we watch the continuous mountains and shores without any roads, buildings or infrastructure. This is what makes Svalbard a unique wildlife spot in the world. We are in the Arctic kingdom where polar bears rule on land and sea-ice. Human settlements are few and far between, and unlike most other predatory animals, the polar bears can move about in this natural paradise as their ancestors did. Despite creamy colour fur and standing 2,5 - 3 meters tall they are sometimes incredibly hard to spot and may go undetected. It is quite a competition to spot one, so guides are glued to binoculars and spotting scopes scanning the ice and the shores for polar bears.

Many of us have the ‘Big Five’ of Svalbard on our bucket list. Therefore, keep scanning to spot the Polar Bear, Walrus, Arctic Fox, Svalbard Reindeer and Ivory gull. We are always considering the wildlife opportunities and the weather conditions when making decisions on where to sail. South or north? Who knows in what fjord we will wake up next morning!

Day 1 Monday
Meet your guide at Basecamp Hotel in Longyearbyen at 3PM. From hear we head down to the harbour by car. If you have extra luggage, you can leave this at the hotel. Once on the ship we will take you to your cabin, and immediately after we will invite you to the main lounge for some snacks before obligatory safety and zodiac briefings and information about the ship.

Do you board the ship as a supernumerary or sign on before the mast as a participatory sailor? As part of the vessels crew you look to the Master for instruction and direction. Our captain and seamen can’t wait to demonstrate and teach sailing skills and show how well Linden sails. We put up with gales and gusts, or blows and breezes, as long as we can raise the sails and navigate through pristine arctic waters.

The midnight sun sits high in the sky in the evening as we join the Captain’s welcome dinner. You better get used to it; she will not set at all here during the summer months. Through the voyage the nights will be lit up, tilted on its axis earth spins at 570 kilometre per hour where we are, leaving Arctic facing the sun night and day between April and late August. The 24-7 service of sunlight creates a booming bonanza for all life in the ocean allowing us to savour the result of abundant and intense Arctic wildlife also above the water during spring and summer. 

Day 2 Tuesday
On Tuesday morning we wake up surrounded by wild landscape and glimmering glaciers. Our excursion is all about frozen rivers of ice gliding down the mountain valleys. The surreal scene appears silent, but you will discover there is a constant fizz, snap and pop of melting ice releasing trapped air bubbles. Millions upon millions of bubbles are continually released as the glacier melts away underneath the ocean surface. Suddenly the landscape in front shatters from the sheer pressure of billions of tons of ice, and the glacier suspended, tumbles and roars down and into the ocean!

We enjoy lunch as we watch the frozen landscape around us, often glaciers are covering all the mountains but the peaks. Narrow strips of land near the ocean may be free of ice, and most of it is barren rock. In Svalbard less than 7% of the land has any vegetation at all. We take a close look at the surroundings as we head ashore. From a distance the land looks immensely barren, but stepping onto a thin layer of thawed permafrost, shining specks of flowers appear. Going ashore we find remnants of Arctic history and tell tales from the heroic past of polar exploration. There have been and still are, trappers and hunters.

Day 3 Wednesday
Waking up surrounded by sediment slopes and pointy peaks we continue to search for wildlife and good hiking possibilities. Weather permitting, we hike across the tundra and the polar deserts. Along the way we find time to sit down and listen to the Arctic silence. It’s a marvellous sound of nothingness. On our hikes we may also catch sight of the only bird overwintering in Svalbard, the well-feathered ptarmigan. Born a carnivore, the chicks eat insects while their vegetarian parents forage for plants and seeds. Our chef will serve us another great meal as we sail to our next destination.

In the afternoon we explore glaciers fronts plunging down into the sea. There might be seals in the water or hauled up on ice and if you keep your eyes closely on the water you might see flashes of white passing by. In Svalbard there are often groups of white Beluga whales patrolling in front of glaciers, where the prey is easier to catch being slightly dizzy in the altered salt content of the seawater mixed with fresh water from the ice.

Day 4 Thursday
Thursday, we wake up within reach of beaches where tusked walrus weighing up to one ton may haul out. We inspect to see if they are home. Will our search for this bewhiskered beast pay off? Walrus don’t like wind or fog because it makes it easier for polar bears to approach and attack. So for once, we are hoping for less wind!  After 60 years of protection the numbers of walrus are finally rising in Svalbard. This is good news, and every year we see fatter skinned walrus congregate near mussel grazing grounds. However please bear in mind this is not a zoo, this is real life. If the walruses are out, their beach is an excellent location to go beachcombing. Scour the beach for timbers from ancient shipwrecks and other treasures! We hope to hike into valleys in search of geological clues, patterns and fossilized wildlife. Svalbard is a geological hotspot without much vegetation and displays several billion years of history.

We proceeded navigating through wildlife hotspots, but as always luck comes with hard work. Along the way we keep our eyes and ears open to find the best wildlife viewings, as the migratory pattern changes throughout the season and even the day. Over the last years more whales are visiting Svalbard, so we might even see the 200 tons blue whales gliding in the water, where the sound of the blow takes your breath away.

Day 5 Friday
We sail into Isfjorden. Enjoy breakfast on the ship before you head back to civilization in the northernmost town in the world Longyearbyen. However, don’t stop keeping your eyes open for a flash of white whale bodies of Belugas as we get close to Longyearbyen to drop you off!

Included:
Shared double cabin with private bathroom or one person in single cabin with shared bathroom. Activities, accommodation and meals. Transport to and from accommodation. Search and rescue insurance. Transport to and from shore excursions. Personal Flotation Device (PFD) for boat transfers.

Note:
In Spitsbergen, weather conditions can change quickly. We can meet heavy winds, snowstorms, thick fog, crevasses and lack of snow or ice. This means we might need to make changes to the planned route, and this might lead up us not arriving to the planned destination. It can also mean that we need to use a different transportation style or accommodation than what was described in the program.


  • Last Updated:
  • Source: Svalbard Reiseliv AS

Accommodation

Hotel facilities
  • Sauna

Outdoor Activities

Activities
  • Boat trips
  • Guided trips
  • Hiking
Hiking
  • Multi-day (one or more days)

Taste Norway

Restaurant & café
  • Fully licenced

Opening hours

May 1, 2020 – Aug 31, 2020
Fri 3:00 PM
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Price

Description Price*
Adults 25,900.00 Per person
* Price from

Facts

Duration
5 days
Statens Kartverk, Geovekst og kommuner - Geodata AS
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