A story from Svalbard expedition 2016

In mid summer, from 15th of July, Arctic Wildlife Tours did a 14 day long Svalbard expedition 2016, sailing with the yacht Arctica II. We were 8 passengers, myself as a travel leader and two skippers and guides. The plan was to sail up along the west coast of Spitsbergen and follow the northern parts of the Island, before we set course down the Hinlopen strait. And we did. We reached all the way from north down to Wahlbergøya and the other small islands in the south end of Hinlopen. We found a lot of Wildlife there. Already counting over 10 Polar Bears. Our skipper, Heinrich Eggenfeller which is born and raised in Svalbard, decided to sail on the east side of Nord-Austlandet towards the north. And so we did. A lot of calving ice from the glazier Austfonna made us sail almost into Russian waters. It was beautiful. A lot of ice, birdlife and some marine mammals as seals. The silence, loneliness and the greatness being out in this wilderness was maybe the greatest feeling of all.

The track log from the expedition shows the capacity the sail yacht Arctica II have. With two skippers on board and a positive attitude we do really long distances. We also have time for anchoring and watching wildlife or the scenery. This "Svalbard expedition 2016" lasting 14 days should prove to become one of the best I ever have done.

svalbard expedition 2016
Our first sightings of Polar Bears during the expedition in Liefdefjord.

First Polar Bear sighting

On one of the small islands in Liefdefjorden we found a sleeping female Polar Bear and her cub. They was barely visible up on a warm spot on the island where the warmth from the sun reached the animals. We was watching them for hours from the Arctica II which was anchored near the islands. We used the zodiacs to cruise around in the area and discovered even one more bear on one of the other islands, a much bigger male animal. We was waiting for the animals to do something interesting for photography, but nothing happened. We decided to move on in search of new situations. So far at this moment of the Svalbard expedition 2016 it was already a success.

svalbard expedition 2016
This Arctic Tern was nesting close to the sleeping Polar Bears

Texas Bar.

Stopping by Texas Bar, the famous cabin in Van Mijen fjord that the locals in Longyearbyen can use whenever its available, doing some grilling on the shore. Heinrich Eggenfellner dos the grilling. He is familiar with the cabin after many trips there as a younger Svalbardian. He was famous in Longyearbyen after one time he had to scare away a Polar Bear, that was climbing in the window during a night Heinrich was sleeping there after a long snowmobile drive from Longyearbyen, by hitting the bear with a frying pan. Not many people would have the nerves to do that!

Svalbard expedition 2016
The cabin Texas Bar is not any luxury. Two small rooms with two beds, one small table and a oven.

The fjord of sorrows.

After a few hours on the shore our expedition had to continue. We set course to the north and planning to sail down the Hinlopen strait. Because of rough sea we stopped by in "Sorgfjorden", the fjord of sorrows, on the northernmost corner of Spitsbergen. We did a landing there when anchoring in shelter of the wind and did some landscape photography on the scenic place far north on Spitsbergen.

Svalbard expedition 2016

After "Sorgfjorden" we reached the famous "Alkefjellet", where 400 000 Brünich Guillemots nests during the summer. We had time for some special photography using floating equipments, drysuits and underwater housings mounted on a pole.

Norwegian photographer Bård Bredesen in the water
Brünich Guillemot swimming under the nesting cliff
"Alkefjellet" is an amazing place.

Surviving the summer.

After "Alkefjellet" we continued our journey down the Hinlopen and passed the Walrus colony on the southernmost spot of "Wahlbergøya". We stayed there for some hours photographing the Walruses before we sailed around the island, checking out a puffing colony there. We found the puffins first - after that we sailed into the most strange situation I ever have seen in Svalbard. A Polar Bear family eating green gras four hours a day. We anchored there for 48 hours watching and photographing this family. It was a rare sight!

Polar Bear family feeding on gras. Canon 5D, EF 300 mm IS
One of the cubs watching us. Canon 1Dx, EF 800 mm IS
Feeding on gras, like cows! Cannon 1Dx, EF 800mm IS

Nordaustlandet

The long sailing around Nordaustlandet during the Svalbard expedition 2016 I will always remember as an adventure. The weather was calm with almost no wind. As we set course to the east in the evening the glazier "Austfonna" was our view during many hours. Some birdlife like Ivory Gulls was the only wildlife we did see for a while. On the eastern side of Nordaustlandet we had to make a turn far east to get by a lot of calving ice from the glazier. In the morning we reached "Storøya" situated on the northeast corner of Nordaustlandet. After a short while we discovered that we had found a Polar Bear garden there, 10 Polar Bears was feasting on the remains of a whale carcass.

Svalbard expedition 2016
A Polar Bear passing by on its way to the whale carcass. Canon 1Dx, EF 300mm IS, 1/30 sek, f / 25

Watching the Polar Bears

Luckily we had good weather when anchoring by Storøya on shallow water. These areas is not so easy sailing in because of the depth. But with a small yacht like Arctica II it was possible.

It was a lot of activity around the carcass, at that time we reached the island it was almost eaten all of it, and we had different situations with the Polar Bears. We spent one night and almost two days in this area.

Polar Bears fighting about the carcass
Curious
Really curious...
svalbard expedition 2016
Not far from the Polar Bears we had close encounters with Walruses. Canon 6D, EF 8-15mm fisheye, 1/320 sec, f / 8,0. Underwater housing.

"Svalbard expedition 2016" had at this moment lastet 9 days and we was counting nearly 30 Polar bears already. Also lots of birdlife, Walruses and seals was seen during these 9 first days. The only animals we not had seen was any whales. A bit disappointing, because that was something I had expected, but we survived with the result we had. The weather started to change when we left Storøya, heading for Sjuøyane. We had some fog when we passed Karl IV island. One Polar Bear was spotted on the shores. We continued our "Svalbard expedition 2016" and reached the northernmost island Ross Island, that is one of the islands in the group of Islands Seven Islands. The wind now was considerably increasing. The weather cast forecasted even stronger wind the coming days.

In the middle of the night day 11th day we anchored by the Walrus colony in "Isflakbukta". Far away from the shores and the few persons that was awake could barely see the Walruses on land. Suddenly a group of animals started to swim straight towards us. I understood immediately that this could become a interesting situation and prepared the underwater photo equipment before I jumped down in one of the zodiacs.

The last days

After this experience we rested during the night. The next day would definitely give us some windy conditions and we wanted to do a transport distance back to the northern parts of Spitsbergen. Windy conditions in open sea was nothing for Arctica II. Wind from styrbord side and the main sail up halv way stabilized the yacht and everything was nice.

On the west coast of Spitsbergen we had time to search of Kongsfjorden and we did a short hike up to Ocean Sars looking for Arctic Foxes. We found a couple of adult individuals there and got some nice pictures. Otherwise some Reindeers was interesting.

_WDX8513

After visiting Krossfjorden also we did the last distance back to Isfjorden. A short stop by Alkehornet and after that we prepared the last dinner during this trip. After 14 days we had experienced a lot. Heinrich Eggenfeller invited one of the two last trappers still living in Svalbard, Harald Solheim, on Kapp Wijk where his cabin is situated.

It was a very interesting meeting with this man that have livet there for nearly 40 years. Many stories was told during his visit onboard Arctica II.

Upcoming Svalbard tours

Svalbard October light expedition 2019

Svalbard October light expedition and workshop. This is a unique opportunity to experience the fantastic light between the Arctic autumn light and winter darkness.

Read more NEW! 10 places

Svalbard April expedition 2020 onboard MS Malmö

Svalbard wildlife expedition in 2020. We are chartering the expedition ship MS Malmö for this photo tour, which is well suited for these kind of expeditions for finding Polar Bears…

Read more 8 Places

Svalbard spring expedition 2020 onboard MS Freya

Explore the Arctic wilderness around Svalbard in 2020. We are chartering the expedition ship MS Freya for this photo tour, which is well suited for these kind of expeditions for…

Read more 8 Places

Svalbard June Expedition 2020 onboard MS Malmö

June is considered early summer season for Svalbard photography. Its still good ice conditions, some years its still frozen around the islands. June is considered as a more and more…

Read more NEW! 9 Places

Svalbard autumn expedition 2019 onboard MS Freya

In September 2019 we invite you to a photographic workshop and wildlife expedition hosted by Arctic Wildlife Tours and famous photographers Orsolya and Erlend Haarberg. An unforgettable expedition in autumn…

Read more 1 place available

Have any questions?

If you have any questions or are wondering about something,
please feel free and do not hesitate to contact us at any given time.
We might be traveling some but will answer as fast as possible.

Privacy Policy

The Privacy Statement is about how this website collects and uses visitor information. The statement contains information that you are entitled to when collecting information from our website (Personal Information Act, section 19), and general information about how we treat personal data (Personal Data Act, section 18, first paragraph). The legal owner of the website is the processing officer for the processing of personal data. It is voluntary for those who visit the web sites to provide personal information regarding services such as receiving newsletters and using the sharing and tip services. The treatment basis is the consent of the individual, unless otherwise specified.

1. Web analytics and cookies (cookies)

As an important part of the effort to create a user-friendly website, we look at the user pattern of those who visit the site. To analyze the information, we use the Google Analytics analysis tool. Google Analytics uses cookies (small text files that the site stores on the user's computer), which registers the users' IP address and provides information about the individual user's online movements. Examples of what the statistics give us answers to are; how many people visit different pages, how long the visit lasts, what websites users come from and what browsers are used. None of the cookies allow us to link information about your use of the site to you as an individual. The information collected by Google Analytics is stored on Google servers in the U.S.. The information received is subject to the Google Privacy Policy. An IP address is defined as a personal information because it can be traced back to a particular hardware and thus to an individual. We use Google Analytics's tracking code to anonymize the IP address before the information is stored and processed by Google. Thus, the stored IP address can not be used to identify the individual user.

2. Search

If the webpage has search function, it stores information about what keywords users use in Google Analytics. The purpose of the storage is to improve our information service. The search usage pattern is stored in aggregate form. Only the keyword is saved and they can not be linked to other information about the users, such as the IP addresses.

3. Share / Tips service

The "Share with others" feature can be used to forward links to the site by email, or to share the content of social networking. Tips for tips are not logged with us, but only used to add the tips to the community. However, we can not guarantee that the online community does not log this information. All such services should therefore be used wisely. If you use the email feature, we only use the provided email addresses to resend the message without any form of storage.

4. Newsletter

The website can send out newsletters by email if you have registered to receive this. In order for us to be able to send e-mail, you must register an e-mail address. Mailchimp is the data processor for the newsletter. The e-mail address is stored in a separate database, not shared with others and deleted when you unsubscribe. The e-mail address will also be deleted if we receive feedback that it is not active.

5. Registration, form

The website may have a form for registration, contact form or other form. These forms are available to the public to perform the tasks they are supposed to do. Registration form is for visitors to sign up or register. Contact form is for visitors to easily send a message to the website's contact person. We ask for the name of the sender and contact information for this. Personal information we receive is not used for purposes other than responding to the inquiry. The form is sent as email via Mailgun as a third party solution. The entire submission will be stored at Mailgun for 24 hours. Between 24 hours and 30 days, only mailheader is stored before the submission is deleted after 30 days. The reason for this storage is to confirm whether emails are sent from the website and forwarded to the correct recipient. Once the email is received by the recipient, it is up to the recipient to determine the data processing needs of the email.

6. Page and service functionality

Cookies are used in the operation and presentation of data from websites. Such cookies may contain language code information for languages ​​selected by the user. There may be cookies with information supporting the load balancing of the system, ensuring all users the best possible experience. For services that require login or search, cookies can be used to ensure that the service presents data to the right recipient.

7. How to manage cookies in your browser

On www.nettvett.no, read how to configure your browser to accept / reject cookies, and get tips for safer use of the internet.