Arctic Polar Bear Expedition
Location: Spitsbergen, Norway
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Let's go on a fascinating voyage to the arctic to see some of the most beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife in the world, including one of the most beautiful and unique animals on the planet: the Polar Bear.
We will see wildlife such as:
Do activities activities such as:
See unique and breathtaking locations such as:
The Bird Cliffs of Alkefjellet
Ship: m/v Hondius
Language: English speaking voyage
Important: Diving is an optional activity. Experience with cold-water diving and dry-suit dives (at least 30) is a must!
PLEASE NOTE: The chances that we can complete a full Spitsbergen circumnavigation (based on the experiences from 1992 – 2019) are about 70% in the second half of July, and 90% in the first half of August. In case we cannot complete a full circumnavigation, they may devise a program in northeast or southeast Spitsbergen. All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on ice, weather, and wildlife conditions. Landings are subject to site availabilities, permissions, and environmental concerns per AECO regulations. Official sailing plans and landing slots are scheduled with AECO prior to the start of the season, but the expedition leader determines the final plan. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. The average cruising speed of our vessel is 10.5 knots.
ANY LOCATIONS AND ACTIVITIES MIGHT HAVE BE CHANGED OR CANCELLED DEPENDING ON CONDITIONS SUCH AS WEATHER, SWELLS AND PRESENCE OF WILDLIFE
SUNDAY, JULY 23: LONGYEARBYEN, THE WORLD'S NORTHERNMOST CITY
We touch down in Longyearbyen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, and the northernmost city in the world with a permanent population. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. In the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where we might spot the first minke whale of the voyage.
Heading north along the west coast, we arrive by morning in Krossfjorden. Here we might board the Zodiacs for a cruise near the towering blue-white face of the Fourteenth of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, colorful flowers bloom while flocks of kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots nest on the cliffs. There is a good chance of spotting an Arctic fox scouting for prey, or a bearded seal paddling through the fjord.
In the afternoon we sail to Ny Ålesund, the northernmost settlement on Earth. Once a mining village served by the world’s most northerly railway – you can still see its tracks – it is now a research center. Close to the community is a breeding ground for barnacle geese, pink-footed geese, and Arctic terns. And if you’re interested in the history of Arctic exploration, visit the anchoring mast used by polar explorers Amundsen and Nobile in their airships, Norge (1926) and Italia (1928).
Depending on the weather, we may sail into Liefdefjorden, the Love Fjord, and cruise within sight of the 5-kilometer-long (3.1 miles) face of the precipitous Monaco Glacier. The waters in front of this glacier are a favorite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes, and the base of the ice is a popular polar bear hunting ground. If ice conditions prevent sailing here early in the season, an alternate route along the west coast of Spitsbergen can be implemented.
The northernmost point of the voyage may be north of Nordaustlandet, in the Seven Islands. Here we reach 80° north, just 870 km (540 miles) from the geographic North Pole! Polar bears inhabit this region, so the ship may park for several hours among the pack ice before wheeling around west again.
THURSDAY, JULY 27: DAY TWO AT SEVEN ISLANDS OR SORGFJORD
When the edge of this sea ice is tens of miles north of the Seven Islands (mostly in August), we can spend a second day in this area. Alternatively (mostly in July), we may turn to Sorgfjord, where there is a good chance to find a herd of walruses not far from the graves of 17th-century whalers. A nature walk here can bring us close to families of ptarmigans, and the opposite side of the fjord is also a beautiful area for an excursion.
FRIDAY, JULY 28: HINLOPEN STRAIT
Today we sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to bearded and ringed seals as well as polar bears. At the entrance there is even the possibility to spot blue whales. As with Liefdefjorden, we can take an alternate west Spitsbergen route if ice prevents entry into Hinlopen. After cruising among the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in the Zodiacs, we then view the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with their thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots.
On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, we may attempt a landing where reindeer, pink-footed geese, and walruses are likely sights. Near Torrelneset we can also visit the polar desert of Nordaustlandet, next to the world’s third-largest ice cap. Here we may encounter walruses during a coastline hike over the area’s raised beaches.
The plan is to make landings in Freemansundet, though polar bears sometimes make this impossible. Potential stops on Barentsøya include Sundneset (for an old trapper’s hut), Kapp Waldburg (for its kittiwake colony), and Rindedalen (for a walk across the tundra). We might also cruise south to Diskobukta, though Kapp Lee is more likely the destination. On Kapp Lee is a walrus haul-out, Pomor ruins, and the chance for hikes along Edgeøya.
We start the day by cruising the side fjords of the Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen, taking in the spire-like peaks: Hornsundtind rises 1,431 meters (4,695 feet), and Bautaen is a perfect illustration of why early Dutch explorers named this island Spitsbergen, meaning “pointed mountains.” There are 14 sizable glaciers in this area as well as opportunities for spotting seals, beluga whales, and polar bears.
Today we find find ourselves in Bellsund, one of the largest fjord systems in Svalbard. The ocean currents make this area slightly warmer than other areas in the archipelago, which shows in the relatively lush vegetation. Here there are excellent opportunities to enjoy both history and wildlife. A possibility is Ahlstrandhalvøya, at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden, where piles of beluga skeletons can be found. These remains of 19th-century whale slaughter are a haunting reminder of the consequences of rampant exploitation. Fortunately, belugas were not hunted into extinction, and you have a good chance of coming across a pod. Alternately, while cruising the side fjords of Bellsund, you can explore tundra where reindeer like to feed as well as rock slopes where little auks are breeding.
Every adventure, no matter how grand, must eventually come to an end. You disembark in Longyearbyen, taking home memories that will accompany you wherever your next adventure lies.
- Voyage aboard the vessel indicated in the itinerary.
- All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee, and tea.
- All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac.
- Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff.
- Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes.
- AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) fees and governmental taxes.
- Comprehensive pre-departure material.
- Any airfare.
- Pre-and post-land arrangements.
- Transfers to/from the vessel.
- Passports and visa expenses.
- Governmental arrival and departure taxes.
- Meals ashore.
- Travel Insurance (required).
- Excess baggage charges and items of personal nature, such as laundry, bar, beverage charges, and telecommunications charges.
- The customary gratuity at the end of the voyage for the stewards and other service personnel aboard (guidelines will be provided).
Flights are NOT included. Flights are very easy to book on your own, and some people want to do side trips, so it becomes impractical to include flights. Besides, many of you can use miles or other ways of making your flight free or save money if you book it yourself. So instead of including air, we will give you guidelines as the date approaches so you can book your own.
- Quad porthole cabin (you and 3 more people of the same gender in a cabin): Price= 5,460.00. Deposit=1,140.00
- Twin porthole cabin(you and one more person of the same gender in a cabin): Price=7,780.00. Deposit=1,620.00
- Single room (your own cabin): Price=13,230.00. Deposit=2,758.00
- In order to save you money, we don't add the cost of credit card processing to the price of the trip, so this price is for check, bank transfer, or any form of payment that does not incur a fee. We can take the deposit via credit card, but need the remaining balance to be paid by a direct form of payment. If you want to pay for the remaining balance with a credit card, we can accept it, but have to add a 5% fee.
- A deposit (non-refundable) starts your reservation. Once we receive your deposit, we'll send you a questionnaire and a contract that will need to be returned to us in 72 hours to guarantee your spot. You can read the contract in advance HERE.
- Once you return the filled out questionnaire and signed contract, we will send you an invoice for the remaining amount. You will have until April 23, 2023 (three months before departure) to finish making your payment.
- DEPOSITS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE, NON-TRANSFERRABLE AND NON-MOVABLE FOR THIS TRIP. We normally have a policy of movable deposits on 1000 Treks, but for this trip we're limited to the stipulations of the expedition company. The good news is that final payment will be due only three months before the trip, so you have OVER A YEAR to make sure you will be able to save, get the time off, get ready, or anything you need in order to make sure you will go. Also, remember, insurance is required for all 1000 Treks trips, so you will have to get insurance. If you get your insurance within 14 days of your deposit, you can get the "cancel for any reason" addition to cover you in case you need to cancel the trip (by the way, we're not giving you insurance advice, or guaranteeing details in regards to insurance, we're just sharing the fact that such option exists for some insurance companies).
- When you make your deposit, you will be asked for your email. MAKE SURE YOU LIST AN EMAIL YOU CHECK DAILY WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR PAYMENT. THAT'S WHERE YOU'LL RECEIVE YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE, INVOICE, AND ALL THE EMAILS IN REGARDS TO THE TRIP.
- Full payment is only due on April 23, 2023 , three months before the trip. You can make payments in any way you prefer so long as you are fully paid by the due date.
- If you make payments or pay in full before the due date, your payments (minus the deposit) are refundable before the due date. After that, all payments are entirely non-refundable.
- All trips are governed by our comprehensive contract. You should familiarize yourself with it prior to signing up for any of our trips. You can access it by clicking HERE or visiting https://www.1000treks.com/contract/. A link to the contract can also be found at the bottom of all our webpages under "CONTRACT".
- Insurance is REQUIRED. You may purchase insurance with any company you wish, but we require that your policy covers personal injury, death, medical expenses, emergency evacuation and treatment, repatriation, and personal liability, with a minimum coverage of USD$200,000. You will be required to submit proof of insurance no later than (seven) 7 days prior to the start of the trip or you will not be allowed to participate in the Trip and will forfeit all your payments.. Although not part of the requirement, we STRONGLY suggest that you get insurance right away (within 15 days of making your deposit), and that you buy a policy that will cover you in case you need to cancel your trip for any reason.
- Because of the adventurous nature of this expedition, the itinerary and some locations are subject to change due to weather, tides, logistics, and other unforeseen circumstances.
- A passport is required for all international travel. Your passport must be valid for 6 months after your return date. If you don't have a valid passport, or if you passport expires before 6 months after the date you will arrive back in the U.S., make sure to get started on a new one ASAP. Here's the link for the Department of State Passport section: http://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html
- The ship sails out of Longyearbyen, Norway. As of the time of this posting American citizens don’t need a visa for Argentina. If you have a foreign passport, you may need a visa. Here's the Norwegian Embassy so you can look into that: https://www.norway.no/en/usa/. We also recommend that even American citizens periodically check to make sure visa requirements have not changed.
- If you need to take care of any those issues, make sure to get on them ASAP so you don't get held up because of some unexpected delay. We've had people missing trips and losing their money because they waited too long or had unexpected issues come up and couldn't take care of them before the trip started.
- Having a valid passport and all the required visas is your responsibility. Please make sure you have those, and any other necessary issues are resolved well ahead of time. 1000 Leagues Travel and its affiliates are not responsible for any problems resulting from you not taking care of issues ahead of time.
This trip will happen around a time in which a potential resurgence of COVID-19 could affect our plans. COVID-19 has become a tricky element because of the unpredictable nature of the virus. It appears that insurance companies have been very restrictive on their coverage; we know insurance companies do offer coverage for the Coronavirus at an additional premium, but this still remains limited and with caps on reimbursement. Additionally, local suppliers have found themselves in a difficult situation because they often have to make their plans and respective reservations for different activities in advance. Therefore, all they can possibly offer in case 1000 Treks needs to cancel the trip after the final payment due date is a credit for the exact same trip for next year. At the same time, because of the virus's effect on local economies, we have been able to secure pricing that at any other time would be notably more expensive.
We believe it is extremely unlikely that we will have to cancel this trip altogether, even if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 at that time. However, it is a possibility, and we want to be completely transparent about the possible outcome. We also want to be 100% upfront that there is the possibility that a resurgence and extreme measures similar to the ones taken in response to the initial outbreak may drive some of the suppliers out of business. If that's the case, they may be unable to provide us with credit or services. This could alter the itinerary, or even render the trip impossible to take and without refunds or credits provided for a future date. We will always do our best to make everything happen, and, again, although the outlined scenarios are extremely unlikely to occur, ultimately we cannot guarantee they won't.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required for all travelers. You will be required to show proof of current vaccination and all required boosters of a Center for Disease Control and/or World Health Organization approved vaccine to 1000 Leagues Travel at least seven (7) days before the first day of the Trip, or you will not be allowed to participate in the Trip and will forfeit all your payments. The type of vaccine accepted by different countries might vary, and all our groups will have to comply with all the requirements from all the countries we will be visiting, traveling through, or returning to. Noncompliance with any of the vaccinations requirements at any time may result in your removal from the trip without any refunds or compensation. 1000 Leagues Travel will not be held responsible for any circumstances resulting from failure to provide proof of vaccination.
Proof of a negative COVID-19 test might also be required. All travelers must be ready to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test if required by any of the locations we will be visiting, travelling through, or returning to. Noncompliance may result in your removal from the trip without any refunds or compensation, and furthermore may result in imposed quarantine, which might result in loss of airfare and other financial consequences. 1000 Leagues Travel will not be held responsible for any circumstances resulting from failure to provide a negative COVID-19 test whenever required.
Please refer to section 7 of the contract titled "COVID-19/CORONAVIRUS (“VIRUS”)" for the limitations of our liability.