The ultimate 12-day adventure in The Arctic
The Arctic has so much to offer the intrepid traveller, so deciding on the ‘ultimate adventure’ is difficult. However, here we have suggested a 12-day voyage for you, which circumnavigates the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, taking in many highlights of the region.
The following expedition – undertaken in the Arctic summer, when you experience nearly 24 hours’ sunlight – gives you the chance to cruise past giant glaciers, majestic fjords, wildflower-covered tundra and desert plains, and observe polar bears, seals, whales, reindeer, Arctic foxes and migratory birds aplenty. Travelling onboard the new Greg Mortimer, guests can enjoy two or three landings a day, giving them the opportunity to explore this magical place on foot and trek to abandoned trapper huts and whaling settlements.
This is just one example of the many once-in-a-lifetime trips that we can create for you in this extraordinary destination but it is a good taster of the wonders that are out there.
The journey begins and ends in Longyearbyen (meaning ‘the longest year’), which is the capital of Spitsbergen, the largest and only permanently populated island in Svalbard. We recommend spending a night here before setting sail. This small coal-mining town may be unlike most capitals but it has its appeal. It is home to the world’s northernmost university, hospital and art gallery, the interesting Svalbard Museum and the husky kennels, which we can arrange for you to visit. There are also some simple but surprisingly comfortable hotels, our favourite of which is Basecamp Hotel, adorned with driftwood, maps and other remnants of the Arctic past and present, where you can laze in the glass-roofed Cognac loft and ogle at the star-studded sky.
You will first set sail for Magdalenefjorden on the craggy west coast of Spitsbergen. The glacier valleys, fjords and spectacular peaks make this scenic area one of the most photographed in the Arctic. The smaller Zodiac vessels allow you to approach the 16km-long ice cliffs of 14th July Glacier, named after Bastille Day by Prince Albert I of Monaco, and Waggonway Glacier, as well as walk among the summer flora, accompanied by specialist guides, keeping your eyes peeled for reindeer, Arctic fox or the comical bearded seal. Atlantic puffins and guillemots inhabit the cliffs here due to the mineral-rich Gulf Stream. A highlight for history enthusiasts might be going to the remains of a 350-year-old Dutch whaling settlement on Amsterdam Island. After two days exploring this enchanting region, you continue onwards towards Moffen Island and Woodfjorden.
Moffen Island + Woodfjorden
Next, you will sail around the northwest shore of Spitsbergen, entering the dramatic vistas of the Arctic Ocean and the breathtaking world of pack ice. The shoreline is a mecca for wildlife: beluga whales rise to the surface and, onshore, polar bears roam on the hunt for harp, ringed and bearded seals. You will see walruses, particularly on Moffen Island, a haven for these marine mammals. Jaunts on the Zodiacs allow you close proximity to the wildlife as well as giving you the opportunity to explore onshore. You can hike to old trapper huts, go in search of Arctic foxes or reindeer, or photograph some of the 164 wildflower species that carpet the tundra at this time of year, including yellow spider plants and Svalbard poppies. The ship will then turn south to Woodfjorden.
Hinlopen Strait, Barentsøya + Edgeøya Islands
Continuing onwards, if ice doesn’t block the way – routes are never set in stone even in the summer, as they are dependent on the movement of pack ice – you will attempt to pass through the narrow Hinlopen Strait between Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet, a channel bordered by vertiginous, fossil-rich slopes. You will float in a Zodiac beneath Alkefjellet, 250m-high volcanic cliffs that are alive with thousands of nesting Brünnich’s guillemots, auklets and puffins. On land, you’ll search for eider ducks, Arctic foxes and the rare but exquisite Svalbard rock ptarmigan, among other creatures. The ship will continue past Barentsøya and Edgeøya islands, both on major polar bear migration routes. Although sightings are not guaranteed, you have a high chance of spotting these magnificent beasts here.
Hornsund + Bellsund Fjords
The final leg of the tour makes you feel like one of the great explorers, even more so than before. If conditions allow, you will now sail around South Cape and north to Hornsund and Bellsund, enormous fjords that boast some phenomenal glaciers as well as varied wildlife. If icebergs bar the way and they are unreachable, you will continue exploring Spitsbergen’s astounding north and west coasts instead.
A midnight cruise along Isfjorden, Svalbard’s second-longest fjord, takes you full circle to Longyearbyen and the end of your incredible Arctic adventure.
Conservation + sustainability
Climate change and carbon emissions are major issues that need to be urgently addressed by all. Commitment to responsible travel are central to cazenove+loyd as a whole and to our choice of travel partners. Sensitivity to environmental considerations and efforts to protect the polar regions’ fragile ecosystems are some of the aspects we admire about the Greg Mortimer. This fabulous new ship has been designed with conserving The Arctic at its heart. Among other details, its engine releases 80% less emissions into the air and sea. It has a high fuel efficiency, reduced energy consumption and a low on-board plastic use. It also participates in AECO's 'Clean Up Svalbard' campaign, where guests can pick up garbage they come across, such as plastic and fish nets.
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