Arctic Wildlife Safari

West Spitsbergen & Polar Ice Edge aboard the Sea Spirit


The Norwegian Arctic island of Spitsbergen, in the famed Svalbard archipelago, is home to dramatic mountain scenery, tidewater glaciers, and some of the Arctic’s best wildlife viewing opportunities—walrus, Arctic fox, reindeer, a variety of whales and seals, and the polar bear, the world’s largest land carnivore and a symbol of the imperiled Arctic wilderness. And this is one of the best places in the world to view them! On this expedition, you’ll venture to the jumbled edge of the north polar ice cap in search of them stalking their prey in their preferred habitat: the pack ice. Here, at the dynamic boundary between ice and sea, you’ll have a rare opportunity to experience raw nature and incredible events hardly ever seen. The unique Arctic ecosystem of Spitsbergen is almost entirely protected in a network of nature reserves and national parks. Nordre Isfjorden Nasjonalpark, Forlandet Nasjonalpark, and the spectacular Nordvest-Spitsbergen Nasjonalpark—each has its own claim to Svalbard’s magnificent natural history. Optional sea kayaking adventures allow you to explore rugged coastlines and remote waters that very few people have ever paddled.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.


Day 1
Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Welcome to Longyearbyen, the Arctic adventure capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard and starting point of the expedition. After arriving via scheduled commercial flight, you are free to explore this small but fascinating settlement. Be sure to see the excellent Svalbard Museum and enjoy the shops, cafes, and restaurants in the town center. Your hotel for the night is included in the price of the voyage.

Day 2
Embark / Isfjorden

Embark on the M/V Sea Spirit in the afternoon; transfers from the hotel are included. Explore the ship and get comfortable in your home-away-from-home for the extraordinary adventure to come. The long days of summer sunlight illuminate your surroundings as the ship slips its moorings and sails into a true wilderness where wildlife abounds. The scenery while sailing through Isfjorden is spectacular and there is already the possibility of marine mammal encounters.

Days 3-9
Exploration of West Spitsbergen

As this is a real expedition in a true High Arctic wilderness, the route and exploration opportunities are heavily dependent on the weather and sea ice conditions encountered. The experienced captain and expedition leader decide the itinerary and continually adjust plans as conditions and opportunities warrant. You can be sure that the best possible advantage will be taken of the circumstances presented by Nature in this wild and remote corner of the Arctic.

Polar bears and other quintessential Arctic wildlife can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Svalbard. Every opportunity is exploited to experience excellent wildlife viewing, to discover incredible scenery, and to walk in the footsteps of the historic polar expeditions that came here in the past.

You can anticipate exploring the spectacular fjords, coasts, and islands in the northwestern part of Svalbard. This area contains the archipelago’s most impressive scenery and some of the Arctic’s best wildlife viewing opportunities. Deep fjords and narrow channels are flanked by jagged snowy mountain peaks. Immense tidewater glaciers calve icebergs into turquoise waters. On ice floes and on fast ice several species of seals watch vigilantly for polar bears. Fields of flowering tundra are home to grazing reindeer and playful Arctic fox. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales. The whole area is alive with migratory birds, including numerous rare species, taking advantage of summer’s fecundity in 24-hour daylight.

And over it all presides the polar bear, monarch of the North. This wild corner of Svalbard is one of the best places in the world to observe polar bears hunting in their preferred habitat: the pack ice. The ship sails as close as safely possible to the jumbled and broken edge of the polar ice cap, where polar bears stalk the frozen sea in search of seals.

To complete the Arctic experience you'll also explore places rich with history. The area of exploration contains the historical remnants of whaling camps, coal mining operations, trappers’ cabins, staging areas for historic attempts to discover the North Pole, and even an abandoned polar research station.

Human habitation in this area can be found only at Ny Ålesund, a former mining town that is now home to an international community of Arctic researchers. This is one of the world’s most northerly settlements, complete with museum, gift shop, and post office.

The days are filled with memorable excursions, sumptuous meals, presentations by experts, and enough stunning scenery and wildlife to fill your camera and overwhelm your emotions.

Day 10
Disembark in Longyearbyen

After breakfast, bid farewell in the town of Longyearbyen, where the expedition started. A transfer is provided to the airport or to the town center if you wish to spend more time here. As you look back on your wonderful experience in Svalbard, you may already be looking forward to your next incredible adventure to the ice!



By land and sea, encounter a wealth of wildlife in one of the High Arctic’s most pristine and protected environments
Search for polar bears hunting in the pack ice
Explore historical sites including early whaling camps, trappers’ cabins, deserted coal mining operations, and an abandoned polar research station
Optional sea kayaking near tidewater glaciers and icebergs


Length: 10 days
Cost From: $8895  
Arrive: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Depart: Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Lodging: 1 night hotel, 8, 10 or 12 nights aboard a 114-guest vessel
Meals: All meals aboard ship, with snacks, coffee, and tea included
Activity: Sea Kayaking, Wildlife and Natural History, Special Interest, Photography, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

10, 12 or 14-day cruise, nature walks, Zodiac cruises, optional sea kayaking

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