The Svalbard Islands are located in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. Here, you will find untouched Arctic wilderness and unique wildlife in a setting that is both rugged and fragile at the same time.
In addition to a few thousand polar bears, the islands are home to almost 3,000 human inhabitants, over 2,000 of which live in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre and largest settlement of the islands. This small and colourful community has gone from a typical village town to a modern community with different kinds of businesses and industries, and with a surprisingly wide range of cultural activities and opportunities, such as concerts, shows, festivals and exhibitions.
“Svalbard” means “cold coasts” and was first mentioned in Icelandic texts in the 12th century. However, the archipelago has a relatively mild climate compared to other areas at the same latitude. In Longyearbyen, the average temperature ranges from -14°C in winter to 6°C in summer. The lowest temperatures in winter can reach -30°C and in summer nearly 20°C.
The trip will be flexible. Photographic opportunities are the most important issue but for those that only come for experiencing the wildlife and Svalbard nature this is a nice opportunity. During this photo and wildlife expedition we will eat when we have time and photograph when the light is the best, and when we have the good situations.
Svalbard is situated at 78-79 degrees north and you are in the High Arctic when you arrive there. The weather is constantly changing at these latitudes. Please study the information about clothing and travels to Svalbard. During our expedition you can expect to see wildlife as Polar Bears, Walruses, Seals, Whales, Arctic Foxes, Svalbard Reindeer and a variety of bird species that is common in these Arctic regions. Sometimes we do long transport legs of sailing and sometimes we stay in one spot experiencing and photographing the nature and wildlife.
Our safety will have top priority during the entire photo expedition and security will be provided by the Svalbard expedition leaders, guides and the crew. We adhere to all applicable safety regulations, especially with regards to polar bears.
This also pertains to use of the Zodiac boats (inflatables) in close proximity to icebergs and glacial edges where there may be elements of risk which are not apparent. The safer we feel, the easier it will be for all participants to concentrate on nature and photographic opportunities. The expeditions and the ships we use have all SAR insurances in case of emergency rescue situations.
We shall not during this wildlife expedition contribute to existing negative impressions of nature photographers and travellers who visit Svalbard.
We will therefore be scheduling longer stops than usual when going ashore in order to provide participants with ample time needed to get excellent pictures without exposing the wildlife to unnecessary stress. Our strategy will be to await situations with wildlife and let the wildlife come to us and not opposite by chasing it. Often this gives us real interesting photographic opportunities and great wildlife experiences in the fragile refuges of the High Arctic Svalbard areas.
We will use 2 Zodiacs when we cruise the Arctic waters of Svalbard searching for wildlife or going ashore for hiking. This will give all photographers great flexibility when taking pictures.
The boats will be used to get different angles of or to get closer to the subjects we will photograph. Getting closer also means greater wildlife experiences. It is a good idea to bring rubber boots due to certain wet conditions when exploring ashore. We will use life wests whilst in the zodiacs during normal summer expeditions by ships. If needed, extra clothing can be provided by the crew on board the ship. Zodiac cruises can last from one hour to several hours depending on what we see of interest. Please ask the guides or crew about what clothing you need during the cruises.
Svalbard wildlife is restlessly moving around most of the time. During summer the lighting is good, also during night, because of midnight sun. A wildlife photographic expedition like this gives us some challenges about the photographic techniques.
The ship’s engine and movements in the sea may present problems when photographing polar bears, etc. A monopod, IS (VR) lenses or handheld photography may present a solution. This problem is minimal under lighting conditions that allow a min. 1/1600 sec shutter speed even with a 600mm lens mounted on a tripod. It is advisable to bring a laptop in order to transfer and review pictures as quickly as possible. You can easily surpass 10,000+ exposures during your expedition to Svalbard, so an external hard drive or lots of available space on your computer’s drive is the best way to go. There are 220V outlets in the ship for charging batteries, etc. There may be ocean fog and poor lighting conditions on Svalbard so fast optics are a definite advantage.
Because of sudden interesting wildlife viewings during the Svalbard wildlife expedition we will adapt the meals to this.
Normally times for meals will be:
The time for the meals can be changed according to ongoing activity and interesting wildlife or other happenings in the field.
Guides and travel leaders
Accomodation onboard the ship
All meals (two course dinners)
Coffe and tea will be available and for free
Zodiac excursions and landings
Speeches and slide shows
Overnight accommodation prior to and after the trip aboard the ship
Personal expenses related to mineral water, alcohol and souvenirs aboard the ship
Travel insurance and cancellation insurance
Flights to/from Svalbard
Airport transfers to/from Svalbard and Longyearbyen
Sodas, beer and liquor (except for tours onboard the yacht Arctica II)