Norway to Franz Josef Land
Norway, Murmansk & Franz Josef Land 15 Days aboard MS Spitsbergen
This unique and exciting Arctic expedition to the top of the world combines some of the beautifully rugged Norwegian fjords with an exploration of the remote and wild Franz Josef Land archipelago. Sailing to and from Tromsø you will discover the scenic island of Sørøya before venturing to within 600 nautical miles of the North Pole to enjoy 5 days of authentic expedition exploration in rarely visited Franz Josef Land, where polar bears and myriad birds live amongst the most dramatic of landscapes. With a Russian experience in the port of Murmansk and a visit to the North Cape in between, this is a fantastic “top of the world” itinerary that will be truly unforgettable.
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 >
- Explore the rarely visited, wild and rugged Franz Josef Land archipelago
- Visit the beautiful Sørøya island and stand at the North Cape, the northernmost point of mainland Europe
- Enjoy a taste of Russia in the port of Murmansk
- Great chances of spotting polar bears and other wildlife including seals, walrus, Arctic fox and thousands of seabirds
- Spectacular scenery at every turn
- Full board accommodation on board ship
- Wind and water-resistant jacket
- Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
- Professional English-speaking Expedition team that provide lectures as well as accompanying landings and activities
- Free tea and coffee
ITINERARY14 Nights 15 Days
- Day 1 | Tromsø
- Day 2 | Sørøya
- Days 3 - 5 | Murmansk & At Sea
- Days 6 - 10 | Franz Josef Land
- Days 11 - 12 | At Sea
- Day 13 | Murmansk
- Day 14 | North Cape/Skarsvåg
- Day 15 | Tromsø
Our top of the world adventure will begin in Tromsø, the starting point for so many great adventures that have come before us. Known as the Gateway to the Arctic, Tromsø is a delightful place to visit and we recommend arriving a day or two early to have the chance to explore. Embarkation will begin in the afternoon and after settling into your cabin and exploring your new surroundings you may want to spend some time on deck soaking up the beautiful scenery as we make our way towards Sørøya.
The first stop on our adventure will be the beautiful island of Sørøya, Norway’s fourth largest island. This remote and sparsely populated island features a dramatic, exposed coastline and we will come ashore to take a closer look and for some scenic photo opportunities. There are some great hiking opportunities here and we plan to take some walks across the relatively easy terrain which will reward in beautiful views. We also plan to make a visit to one of the roadless fishing settlements on the island before boarding our ship again and heading towards the North Cape.
Murmansk & At Sea
Today we will start our journey towards Franz Josef Land and make a stop at Murmansk to clear customs for entering into Russian territory. Murmansk is the largest city found north of the Arctic Circle and we will return to here for further exploration on our return from Franz Josef Land.
As we sail north you can enjoy your informative and entertaining lecture and presentation programme which will offer you the chance to discover more about the wildlife, geology and history of the Franz Josef Land archipelago. Keep an eye out on deck for seabirds and the first of many ice floes sightings.
Franz Josef Land
Today we reach the pinnacle of our adventure as we arrive at the remarkable Franz Josef Land archipelago. In true expedition style our exact route here will be determined by sea, ice and weather conditions, and your experienced captain and crew will decide each day on the best route to take to ensure you make the very most of your time here. These mystical islands are composed of basalt rocks cut by dramatic glaciers, majestic mountain formations, deep fjords, buzzing bird cliffs and endless arctic tundra with diverse flora and fauna.
We will spend 5 days here exploring the world’s northernmost archipelago discovering rarely-visited historical sites and searching for memorable wildlife encounters including polar bears, walrus, seals, thousands of seabirds and the Arctic fox.
Areas we expect to visit include Northbrook Island where we will land at Cape Flora to see the thousands of sea birds that nest on the cliffs including brünnichs guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. Cape Flora is also an important spot in Arctic history as it was here where Fridtjof Nansen was rescued by Fredrick Jackson in 1896 after having to unexpectedly over-winter here. We will also visit Bell Island to see the remains of the oldest building on Franz Josef Land and participate in an optional beach cleanup.
During our time in the islands we will explore both on foot and by small boat, and Rubini Rock bird cliff is a perfect place for a cruise as we get up close to the central remains of a conical volcano here and see the best bird cliffs in the archipelago. In Calm Bay we will spend the day exploring, birdwatching and learning about the history of the area including the well-known rescue of the team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedov station who were marooned here at the beginning of the Second World War and weren’t rescued until 1945. We also hope to visit Jackson Island to see Cape Norvegia where Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen overwintered, and Alexandra Land where we will find the headquarters of the Russian Arctic National Park.
We will also take a small boat cruise to Champ Island where we will land at Cape Triest to see the famous “Devils Marbles”, a group of remarkable spherical rock formations which measure up to 2 metres in diameter.
Throughout our time here we will be on a constant lookout for wildlife and with an estimated polar bear population of 3000, sightings of the elusive ‘king of the Arctic’ are very likely, although of course cannot be guaranteed.
As we leave behind the wonders of Franz Josef Land we will spend 2 days crossing the Barents Sea back towards Murmansk. After all that adventure this is a great time to relax and soak up the memories of the last few days. Your lecture and presentation programme will continue and we recommend spending some time on deck looking out for seabirds following the ship.
Today we will arrive back in Murmansk and this time we will have the opportunity to explore the city. Places you may wish to visit include the 35-meter-high statue of a Russian soldier, known as Alyosha, which dramatically overlooks the port and is a memorial to the Russian soldiers who fought in the Second World War. There is also a striking gold-domed church, the church of the Saviour on the Waters, which is worth a visit along with the lighthouse monument and part of the remains of the ill-fated submarine Kursk.
In the early hours of day 14 we recommend having your cameras ready as your ship sails past the spectacular North Cape cliff offering you a stunning view of this famous landmark on the northernmost tip of mainland Europe. A short time later we will arrive at Skarsvåg, the world's northernmost fishing village which lies along the northern coast of the island of Magerøya.
Today you can join an optional excursion to the North Cape to experience the feeling of standing at the edge of the world and to see the famous statue that marks this important spot. There is also a museum here which is worth a visit, and enough breathtaking scenery to fill your cameras.
Arrival back in to the port of Tromsø signals the end of our Arctic adventure and sadly it will be time to bid a fond farewell to our expedition team and fellow passengers. Known as the Gateway to the Arctic, Tromsø is a delightful place to visit and should you wish to extend your stay here please feel free to ask for details of extra excursions.
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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