The remarkable islands of the Svalbard archipelago are part of Norway, lying far to the north of the Norwegian mainland and high above the Arctic Circle. They total an area of about 62,000 square kilometers, about the same size as Ireland or Tasmania. These larger islands rise to form a group of wild and rugged mountains, with much of their highland areas being covered in ice and snow. As spring transitions into summer in Spitsbergen, the use of snowshoes offers a unique opportunity to access areas that cannot be reached solely on foot. Explore the pristine, snow-covered areas of the islands previously only touched by paws and hooves!
Day 1: Longyearbyen / Embark
Flying into Longyearbyen from Oslo, see a mountainous landscape broken by valleys and fjords, sparkling in the early summer sun, under a blanket of snow. Board the Akademik Sergey Vavilov in the afternoon, at anchor off shore.
Days 2-4: Western Spitsbergen
Cruise in Zodiacs past the spectacular ice cliffs of the 14th of July Glacier. Watch for Purple Sandpipers, Common Eiders, Barnacle Geese and Arctic Terns. While visiting Ny Alesund, formerly a coal mining town, now one of the world's foremost Arctic researchs stations, you may spot a Svalbard reindeer. Svalbard reindeer are unique to the islands.
Days 5-6: Smeerenburg / Phippsoya / Tusenoyane
Smeerenburg is on low ground, a perfect location for donning snowshoes to trek from the landing beach to a 1906 memorial to whalers who lost their lives in the 17th and 18th century. Phippsoya is a well known polar bear and walrus haunt, great for taking brag-worthy photographs. Red-throated Divers and a beach whale skeleton are the highlights of the visit to Tusenoyane (Thousand Islands).
Days 7-8: Alkefjellet, Torellneset / Hinlopen Strait
The morning is on the water cruising in Zodiacs near the spectacular cliff face of Alkefjellet. Thousands upon thousands of Little Auks fly overhead. Their cries enveloping you. Take a moment to scan the base of the cliffs. Arctic fox and polar bears are known to scavenge for eggs that have fallen from the nests above. On Torellneset, don the snowshoes again. Moving northeast from the landing site, the ground rises to the southeast dome of the Austfonna ice cap, known as Vegafonna.
Days 9-10: Poolepynten / Alkhornet
The twin-tusked pinniped - the walrus - halus out to bask in the sun at Poolepynten. You'll want to have your camera handy! Alkhornet, the second destination of the day has something for everyone - spectacular rock formations, nesting Little Auks and Dovekies and quite possiblity an Arctic fox and Svalbard reindeer sighting.
Day 11: Longyearbyen / Disembark
The Spitsbergen Snowshoeing adventure ends as it began, in the frontier-style settlement of Longyearbyen. You will be transfered from the ship to the airport for your flight home. Contact ExpeditionTrips for options to extend your stay.