Day 1: Bodø, Norway
We embark our luxury expedition vessel in Bodø, located just north of the Arctic Circle, and begin our voyage by heading west to the Lofoten Islands.
Day 2: Røst Island, Lofoten Islands / Reine Island
The Lofoten Islands are a chain of islands extending from the coast of Norway into the exposed waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. The islands are home to many small communities who have made their living from the ocean for many generations. The main economy of the islands for centuries has been the rich winter cod fishery, which is exported as dried stock fish. The islands are also home to the small Norwegian whaling fleet.
Within the Lofoten Islands there are many exciting locations to explore; the islands also offer good fishing opportunities. At the southern tip of the chain of islands extending out into the exposed North Atlantic, and about 60 miles from the mainland coast, the island of Røst is home to a small community of fewer than 1,000 people who derive a living from the ocean. Here we may visit the small fishing community, but it is not just the people who make a living from the ocean. The islands are also home to some very large seabird colonies together with white-tailed eagles and we may spend time enjoying this spectacle.
After visiting the remote islands of the Lofoten group, arriving in Reine this afternoon will be a striking contrast. Here the Lofoten Islands become more 'civilised', as this village is accessible by road. Reine is beautifully situation on a picturesque bay surrounded by towering peaks, and local whaling boats may be seen within the small fishing harbour.
Day 3: Northern Fjords Expedition Stops
The mainland coast of Norway is heavily indented by fjords – valleys originally carved by glaciers that are now flooded by the ocean following the retreat of the glaciers. This is a superb region for cruising through scenery on a grand scale; simply spending time on board as we navigate these waters can be very rewarding.
In addition to great scenery, a significant advantage of spending time in the fjords is that they typically offer sheltered waters, ideal for activities such as kayaking and fishing. There are also opportunities to go ashore and take short walks or more vigorous hikes inland.
We have many possible destinations within the northern Norwegian Fjords. It is our goal to share with you the best that this coast has to offer. We take advantage of the flexibility our yacht provides to discover something spectacular.
Day 4: At Sea
Relax onboard as our yacht navigates north through the Barents Sea. Spend time on deck watching for whales and various seabirds, or enjoy a talk on the region from your Expedition Leader.
Day 5: Bear Island
We arrive at Bear Island, located midway between the mainland of Norway and the large islands of the Svalbard Archipelago. Once the home of a major whaling station, Bear Island is now inhabited by thousands of kittiwakes, murres, fulmars and many other seabirds which nest along the jagged peaks that rise from the sea. We board Zodiacs to get a closer look at the bird cliffs and hope to see charismatic Atlantic puffins, little auks and razorbills. We then go ashore for a tundra walk amongst colorful wildflowers while keeping our eyes peeled for Arctic fox.
Days 6-10: The Svalbard Archipelago
The remainder of the voyage will be spent exploring the wild high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, about 400 miles north of Norway. By far the largest wilderness area of Europe, Svalbard has a land area of 24, 721 square miles - about the size of the Republic of Ireland – with 60% of the land covered in ice. Norway has had sovereignty over Svalbard since 1925, according to the international Spitsbergen Treaty. The islands have a population of just over 2,600, living in 4 small settlements.
Spitsbergen is the largest island in the archipelago, named by the Dutch explorer Willem Barents, who discovered the islands in 1596 during a mission to find a new sea route to the Far East. Meaning "Jagged Peaks" in Dutch, the island was named for the sharp pointed mountains that Barents met in the northwest of Spitsbergen.
We have no set plans and our route up the west coast of Spitsbergen Island will be determined by the weather and sea-ice conditions. As we cruise along the island we search for the wildlife, which makes its home in this extreme environment. We hope to spot polar bears hunting for seals, and we may spot walrus hauled out on the ice or nearby shores.
Landing ashore, we will offer walks across the tundra to observe the flora and fauna of this barren Arctic land. Our Expedition Leader will guide us on hikes to some of the most scenic areas and explain the fascinating history of exploration in this region. Along the coast we visit enormous seabird colonies, and cruise the protected fjords by Zodiac, admiring the icebergs and cascading glaciers. All of our landings in this region will be by Zodiac and our plans are totally flexible in order to follow the wildlife and the best weather. With four full days to explore and 24 hours of daylight, this exploration of the Arctic islands and ocean promises to be full of excitement.
Depending on the route your voyage takes, you may spend time exploring the following areas:
Hornsund is the southernmost fjord on Spitsbergen Island. The coastline features several bays backed by glacial valleys leading to high mountain peaks. A Polish Polar Station has been operating here since 1957, doing research in a number of fields, including meteorology, seismology and glaciology. Arctic fox, abundant seabirds and reindeers are common sights here.
Danskøya & Amsterdamøya Islands
We have the opportunity to visit historical sites on these two islands. Danskøya Island, was the launch site for a failed attempt by Salomon Andrée and two companions to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon in 1897. Amsterdamøya Island was a Danish and Dutch whaling station in the early 1600s and is now the home to nesting Arctic terns.
We enter this spectacularly scenic fjord and board Zodiacs for a cruise through the ice fields leading up to Monaco Glacier. We keep our eyes peeled for polar bears that are often seen in this region. Conditions permitting, we go ashore for a hike on the glacier or along the shoreline. Photographic opportunities abound as we may spy Arctic fox, whales, ringed seals or thousands of kittiwakes during our time in this stunning fjord.
Go ashore on Lågøya Island known for its large walrus haul-out where we can observe these enormous creatures resting on the shoreline. Ever curious, the walrus will often approach our Zodiacs as we cruise by, offering excellent views. In the afternoon, we cruise by Zodiac along the pack ice edge hoping to spot polar bears as they hunt for seals and reindeers.
Day 11: Longyearbyen
Our yacht arrives in Svalbard’s main settlement of Longyearbyen, located on the west coast of Spitsbergen Island. Here we disembark and, time permitting, stroll around this former mining town and visit the Polar Museum before boarding homeward flights.
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