Around Spitsbergen 10 days aboard MV Ortelius
A 10 voyage around Spitsbergen, the largest wilderness area in Europe, with spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife, especially the polar bear. Here, we will also expect to see walrus, whales, reindeer and myriad birdlife along with surprisingly beautiful flora.
Namibia Birding and Photography GuideAn accomplished and experienced Namibia birding and photographic guide, Toni holds a Namibia Academy for Tourism and Hospitality Level 3 qualification (the highest level attainable in Namibia) and is widely renowned for her extensive knowledge of the cultures, ornithology, flora, astronomy and wildlife of the country. Read more >
Falklands Expert & GuideBorn in Chartres in the West Falklands, Jenny grew up on the family farm where her love for animals was nurtured by the25,000 sheep, horses and cows that lived alongside her. Forever a nature, conservation and wildlife enthusiast Jenny has travelled extensively throughout the Falkland Islands, visiting each and every wildlife island at least once, and even travelling around some by yacht. Read more >
- Polar bears
- Other Arctic wildlife - whales, walrus, Arctic fox, etc.
- Myriad birdlife
- Spectacular scenery
- Historic sites
- Transfers to and from ship
- Full board accommodation on board
- All zodiac excursions and landings with expert guides
- Programme of expert lectures
- Loan of rubber boots
ITINERARY9 Nights 10 Days
- Day 1 | Longyearbyen
- Day 2 | Krossfjorden & Ny Alesund
- Day 3 | Liefdefjorden
- Day 4 | Seven Islands
- Days 5-6 | Hinlopen Strait
- Day 7 | Barentsoya
- Day 8 | Hornsund
- Day 9 | Ahlstrandhalvoya
- Day 10 | Longyearbyen
Arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Svalbard archipelago. Before embarking, take the opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting. In the early evening the ship will sail out and along Isfjorden.
Krossfjorden & Ny Alesund
Heading north along the west coast, we arrive by morning in Krossfjorden, where we board the Zodiacs for a cruise along the sculpted front of the 14th of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, a colourful variety of flowers bloom, while large numbers of kittiwakes and Brunnich's guillemots nest on the nearby cliffs. There is also a good chance of spotting Arctic fox, who patrol the base of the cliffs in case a chick falls from its nest, and bearded seal.
In the afternoon we sail to Ny Alesund, the world's most northerly settlement, which, when it was a mining village, was served by the world's most northerly railway, which can still be seen - Ny Alesund is now a research centre. Close to the village is a breeding ground for Barnacle Goose, Pink-footed Goose and Arctic Tern. Visitors interested in the history of Arctic exploration can walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile, in the airship Norge in 1926 and Nobile in the airship Italia in 1928, before their flights to the North Pole.
Near the mouth of Liefdefjorden, we plan go ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andoya. Common eider and pink-footed geese nest here, and the rarer king eider may also be seen. Sailing into Liefdefjorden, we will cruise near the face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier front are a favourite feeding spot for thousands of kittiwakes and sometimes, polar bears are seen on the glacier.
Today we will reach the northernmost islands of Svalbard: the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. We will attempt to land on Phippsoya, where walrus are often hauled out on land. We will then try to find the pack ice to take in the spectacular surroundings and search for wildlife such as polar bears and perhaps even the illusive Ross gull. We will reach the area of 81 degrees north - just 540 km from the geographic North Pole.
Plan to sail across Hinlopen Strait to Kinnvika on the island of Nordaustlandet to explore the polar dessert landscape. The strait is home to bearded and ringed seals, as well as polar bears and ivory gulls. We'll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvoya in our Zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brunnich's guillemots. On the east side of Hinlopen Strait, we will attempt a landing at Augustabukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, pink-footed geese, breeding ivory gulls, and walrus. Near Torellneset we will walk along beautiful coastline covered in smooth rocks, sculpted by the surf over thousands of years. We may encounter more walrus along the way.
In Freemansundet we plan to land at Sundneset on the island of Barentsoya to visit an old trapper's hut and then walk across the tundra in search of Spitsbergen reindeer and barnacle geese. Later we cruise south to Diskobukta on the west side of Edgeoya. After a Zodiac cruise through the shallow bay, we land on a beach littered with whale bones and tree trunks, which have drifted here all the way from the shores of northern Siberia. We can also climb to the rim of a narrow gully which is inhabited by thousands of kitttiwakes, together with black guillemots and glaucous gulls. During the breeding season, the base of the cliffs is patrolled by Arctic foxes and polar bear, especially females with young cubs, searching for young birds that have fallen from the nesting ledges.
Cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund area
We start the day quietly cruising the side fjords of the spectacular Hornsund area of southern Spitsbergen, enjoying the scenery of towering mountain peaks. Hornsundtind rises to 1,431m, while Bautaen shows why early Dutch explorers gave the name 'Spitsbergen', or 'pointed mountains' - to the island. There are also 14 magnificent glaciers in the area and very good chances of encounters with seals and polar bears.
Today we land on Ahlstrandhalvoya at the mouth of Van Keulenfjorden. Here piles of beluga whale skeletons, the remains of 19th century slaughter - yet another reminder of the consequences of thoughtless exploitation. Fortunately, beluga were not hunted to the edge of extinction and may still be seen locally - there is a good chance that we will come across a pod. Cruising into Recherchefjorden during the afternoon we can explore an area of tundra at the head of the fjord where many reindeer feed.
Return to Longyearbyen and disembark for the transfer to the airport and the flight to Oslo and home.
What Our Customers
Superlatives abound – a truly amazing experience...awesome. Thanks to all for making it such a memorable experience.
We have just returned from our Spitsbergen trip with Wildfoot and had to tell you what an amazing time we had! We saw 6 polar bears including a mother with 2 cubs as well as whales, walruses and lots of birds. The ship (Expedition) was really comfortable and the guides were so helpful and friendly. Thank you so much for making it all so easy.
I came to Wildfoot because a friend had booked with you when you were Antarctica Bound and they were right. Everything went perfectly, even when our flight was cancelled, you made sure we still made it to the ship with time to spare. L’Austral is a beautiful ship with first class service and food and the guides looked after us well. Very happy to recommend Wildfoot and L’Austral...
We had always wanted to see the Arctic and travelling all the way from Australia needed lots of information. After getting nowhere, we came across Wildfoot and found people who knew what they were talking about! Sara and John were so helpful and made the process easy, suggesting Iceland Greenland and Spitsbergen. This was perfect for us – amazing scenery and lots of wildlife, especially the polar bears in Spitsbergen. Thanks for everything. Ps, the ship was great too!
Just wanted to say thank you for suggesting a trip to Franz Josef Land as something different for the Arctic. We had a super trip and really enjoyed the Sea Spirit. Galapagos next!
Standing on the North Pole has been an ambition of mine since childhood and now I have done it! Thank you for making the process so easy - seeing polar bears and whales too was a real bonus.
The Sea Spirit expedition was excellent and the team organising it all were extremely good. 10 out of 10. Everything went very smoothly. The Iceland extension worked perfectly, all the organisation, connections etc. were excellent
The cruise was beyond my expectations. Got to see everything the captain wanted, even a polar bear mother with three cubs. Coal Miners Cabins were smashing. I did loads of birding and exploring over three days. All the people were great from the expedition leaders down to the passengers. So glad to have achieved my ambition of some 50 years standing and got amongst the ice of the Arctic, walked amongst it’s islands and witnessed the antics of its wonderful wildlife. What’s next??? I’ll need to speak with Sara again.
Thanks so much for enabling me to get to places I had always wanted to see from a very young age. “Ace” as my boys used to say!
Just wanted to send a quick note to say thank you very much for all your help in arranging our recent trip to Svalbard. Everything ran smoothly and the trip was a great success. Unfortunately I had to flew back a few days early and missed out on Isfjord Radio, which the rest of the team said was a brilliant place with amazing food, still the Basecamp Hotel and Nordenskiold Lodge were pretty amazing places, so I’m not complaining!
Writing back to tell you that the trip to the Arctic was all that it promised and more. It was a great wild-life sightseeing opportunity and the staff were really good.I had an excellent trip and have thousands of photos to go through.
I had an absolutely fabulous time won the Sergey Vavilov, it is an excellent ship. Sara was indeed right in her recommendation that they would be the most likely to push north into the ice to find the polar bears. We even circumnavigated Spitsbergen which was awesome and not o n the itinerary.It is such a wonderful way to take a trip when you are on your own – so if any of your potential single clients are unsure, definitely recommend it – I didn’t feel alone from the moment I stepped on board. I will be at the Birdfair next weekend and so will catch up with whoever is there – regarding this trip, and potentially my next!
Great cruise, staff and expedition team. Had a great trip.
Great cruise, staff and expedition team. Had a great trip.
We had a wonderful time, even though we didn't do all the places we were supposed to but we all felt were we went instead couldn't beaten. Saw animals I wanted to see. Bit worried what the food was like as some of the ships cooking leaves something to be desired, but food was very good. We thought all the guides were brilliant and informative, friendly and knowledgeable It was far better than we expected and even my husband thoroughly enjoyed it!
I wanted to let you know that I had a wonderful cruise in the Russian Far East. The landscape and destination were inspiring, we had some excellent wildlife sightings (sea otter, grey whale, Steller's sea eagle, snowy owl and Arctic fox were all firsts for me), and the Heritage team were superb. Rough seas forced a few changes to the itinerary but we also had some fabulous weather. All in all, a thrilling travel experience.Thanks once again for all your efforts
I thought you might like to know that this was an excellent holiday. Our guide, Brad, was absolutely wonderful, his enthusiasm and knowledge made the holiday even better. All in all the whole trip was excellent and we saw lots of bears, 24 on the first day. Fewer on the second and third days but still plenty, as well as arctic foxes,silver foxes and snowy owls. Even on the last day near the town we saw a bear on rocks by the beach.
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