From mid-June to mid-July, the Arctic summer goes into full swing. For some – many birders included – this is when Svalbard is at its most beautiful. With the light, life returns to the high latitudes: the snow is melting, migratory birds flock their colonies, the flowers are coming into bloom adding an increasing number of colorful dots to the landscape, and the light is often still softer than later in the season. With a bit of luck, there might be some fast ice left in the fjords which is prime habitat for seals and bears.

Especially in early summer, Svalbard is a bird-lover’s paradise with busy colonies of Common guillemots (or Thick-billed murre if you’re American) and Little auks (dovekies); there are Black-legged kittiwakes, Glaucous gulls, Black guillemots and the odd puffin; Purple sandpipers, Ringed plovers and Ruddy turnstones can be spotted along the shoreline, and we may even get a glimpse of species like Common eider and King eider, Red phalarope and Long-tailed duck although all of the latter can prove challenging. Close to glaciers, we stand a fair chance to observe the all-white, elusive Ivory gull.

With 24 hours of light, nighttime is as good for nature and wildlife observations (and for photography) as daytime; while we will have to sail at times to reach our next destination, we will always be on the lookout for whatever comes our way. Exploring the coastline from a relatively small and nimble vessel, we will try to make the most of our unique approach to immerse ourselves in our surroundings, to explore and to experience first-hand what the High Arctic is all about – from glaciers to tundra, from viewpoints to secluded bays, and from wildlife encounters to the wonders of landscape, light, and silence.

Being an intimate group of like-minded people, we will take our time on board, in the zodiac and on shore to enjoy, observe, indulge and soak it all in. The ground might be snow-covered still or moist with meltwater. We might be out all day in a zodiac, taking a packed lunch and hot tea or coffee with us; we might choose to go out after breakfast, return for lunch and set out again in the afternoon, or we might opt for an outing in the middle of the (bright) night or enjoy the early morning light before breakfast – whatever suits best.

Imagine having time on your hands sitting in the zodiac amidst brash ice in front of a glacier, listening to the cracking and hissing of the ice, feeling the cool air descending from the towering white and blue walls while kittiwakes cackle and shriek, and watching pieces of ice tumble and fall into the water in super slow-motion …

Being the small group that we are, we can also free ourselves from the constraints of set itineraries and opt to make the most of any given moment, visiting places inaccessible or not suitable for bigger ships, trying for lovely spots often overlooked, or even testing entirely new landing sites. It is hard to predict where our journey will take us – too much of our route will be depending on ice and weather conditions – but in any case, no matter whether we go north or south from Isfjorden (or even explore the often overlooked „ice fjord“ itself), the west coast of Spitsbergen is a treasure trove of beautiful places. The best is to be open-minded, curious and flexible, an ideal approach to the fantastic nature of the Arctic which will provide plenty of memorable moments.

At the beginning of the season we might sail south into Hornsund – the southernmost of Spitsbergen’s west-coast fjords – to see if there is any fast ice left in the scenic area that is dubbed „Spitsbergen in a nutshell“ for a reason. Pointed, heavily glaciated peaks rise up to 1.400 metres above sea level while at their feet, glacier fronts lace almost every bay. There are patches of lush tundra, bird colonies, fascinating details to be found and good opportunities for short walks to gain a bit of height and a view. Bellsund further north has green, flowery tundra and stunning geology galore, historic places with stories and remains equally fascinating and eerie, and hidden landscape gems.

Another option could be to sail north through Forlandsundet, visiting known haul-out places for walrus (and hoping the charismatic animals are home). When Willem Barents discovered the archipelago in 1596, the island now known as Prins Karls Forland might have been the first land that he saw. Further north, Kongsfjorden and Krossfjorden are an Arctic explorer’s playground par-excellence. Huge glacierfronts, pointed peaks, impressive bird cliffs, wide vistas, secluded bays, historical sites and plenty of possibilities to explore either by zodiac or on foot – it’s all there, most of it within a few hours of sailing.

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From late June to late July 2020, we will be based in the Svalbard archipelago and will be offering the following voyages on the west coast of Spitsbergen for you to choose from:

EZ2007 – Svalbard (1st Voyage)
Dates: June 20 – June 29, 2020
Duration: 10 days (9 nights aboard)
Departure port: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Destination port: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Focus: Arctic environment, wildlife and photography
Complement: skipper, mate, expert guide, a maximum of 4 guests
Skipper: Ron Pfister
Expert guide: Sandra Petrowitz
Status: spaces available
Price: EUR 7.950

EZ2008 – Svalbard (2nd Voyage)
Dates: June 29 – July 8, 2020
Duration: 10 days (9 nights aboard)
Departure port: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Destination port: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Focus: Arctic environment, wildlife and photography
Complement: skipper, mate, expert guide, a maximum of 4 guests
Skipper: Ron Pfister
Expert guide: Sandra Petrowitz
Status: spaces available
Price: EUR 7.950

EZ2009 – Svalbard (3rd Voyage)
Dates: July 8 – July 17, 2020
Duration: 10 days (9 nights aboard)
Departure port: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Destination port: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Focus: Arctic environment, wildlife and photography
Complement: skipper, mate, expert guide, a maximum of 4 guests
Skipper: Ron Pfister
Expert guide: Sandra Petrowitz
Status: spaces available
Price: EUR 7.950

 

What’s included:

  • Accommodation aboard for the duration of the voyage
  • All meals and drinks for the duration of the voyage
  • All group excursions
  • All fees and permits for the duration of the voyage
  • Exposure suit for zodiac excursions
  • Comfortable and warm bedding
  • CO2-compensation for all transportation, including your flights

What’s not included:

  • Flights to and from the departure and destination ports, respectively (if required, we will assist you with the booking of these)

What you need to bring:

  • A keen interest in discovering and exploring your destination
  • A modicum of physical fitness
  • Proof of insurance (medical, accident and personal liability)
  • Your willingness to help out with daily chores aboard – the less time we as a group spend doing that, the more time we have to explore our surroundings
  • You don’t need any sailing experience, but you’re very welcome to help with seamanship tasks if you so desire
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Are you interested in joining one of our voyages? Then we would love to hear from you! Please send us a message by using the form below, indicating the particular voyage(s) you are interested in. We’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have. If you prefer us to call you, please leave your phone number and indicate a convenient time for one of our team members to call you back.

Thank you so much for your interest – we look forward to hearing from you…

 

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