Day 1 Longyearbyen
Norway's Longyearbyen is nestled in the majestic Adventfjord on the west coast of Spitsbergen, a mountainous island in the Svalbard archipelago, north of the Arctic Circle. The town, which is the administrative hub of the area, claims about 2,100 residents, and is the gateway for most adventures in Svalbard. There is an airport as well as a variety of lodgings, shops, restaurants, bars, and museums. Polar bears often roam its outskirts, while reindeer sometimes walk right through the town center.
Day 2-4 Svalbard Expedition
Day 5 Northwest Spitsbergen National Park
Explore a magnificent landscape of glaciers and fjords, islands and sounds, hot springs and old volcanoes. With several bird cliffs, colonies and sanctuaries, at least one-third of the park is declared an Important Bird Area, attracting barnacle and brent geese, common eiders, black guillemots and more. History lives on with remnants of whaling stations and 17th-century graves, while Monaco Glacier creaks and groans as it calves into the sea and Woodfjorden serves as a haul-out for walruses.
Day 6 Hinlopen Strait Expedition
On the eastern shores of Svalbard, the Hinlopen Strait cuts between the archipelago’s two largest islands, Spitsbergen and Nordaustlandet. The pack ice here is known to be thick, and the keen eye might spot walruses, beluga whales, bearded and ring seals, and maybe even a polar bear. The vertical basalt cliffs at Alkefjellet are home to tens of thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots, glaucous gulls and kittiwakes.
Day 7 Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve
Covered by glaciers and lined with fjords, the reserve covers all of Nordaustlandet (the archipelago’s second largest island) and several other islands including Kong Karls Land that serves as an important breeding ground for polar bears. Here is where walruses come to rest and Brünnich’s guillemots are known to nest. Identified as an Important Bird Area, keep an eye out for Brent geese, Sabine’s and ivory gulls nesting on steep cliffs. Animals here include the Arctic fox and Svalbard reindeer.
Day 8 Southeast Svalbard Nature Reserve
With a whaling history dating to the 17th century, this area encompasses the islands of Barentsoya and Edgeoya. Noted for its wide plateau-shaped mountains and open valleys, its rich tundra is home to Svalbard reindeer and Arctic foxes. The area is considered an important resting place for walruses, and kittiwakes colonize the steep cliffs. It is also an Important Bird Area for red-throated divers, barnacle and brent geese, Arctic terns, purple sandpipers and glaucous gulls.
Day 9 South Spitsbergen National Park
Svalbard’s largest national park includes majestic mountains, glaciers and four separate bird sanctuaries located off the southern and western coasts: Sørkapp, Dunøyene, Isøyene, and Olsholmen. Eider ducks and barnacle geese breed and nest here, both on bird cliffs and on islands and islets. Look for Svalbard reindeer and Arctic fox, too.
Day 10 Svalbard Expedition
Day 11 North Isfjorden National Park
Exploring Svalbard’s second longest fjord is a dream come true for both nature and birding enthusiasts. Witness the dramatic wonder of glaciers calving into fjords where ringed seals are known to swim and play. And look to the steep cliffs to see all kinds of birds, from Brünnich’s guillemots, little aukss and Atlantic puffins to black-legged kittiwakes and pink-footed geese.
Day 12 Longyearbyen Disembarkation