Svalbard Autumn Photography Expedition
August 31 – September 10, 2018
In the autumn of 2018 I will lead a photography expedition to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. It is one of the great wildernesses of the world, and there are few places better for experiencing Arctic wildlife. My co-leader Peter Cox and I have extensive experience photographing this frozen landscape, and we are working with one of the most experienced expedition leaders in the Arctic today. We have timed the expedition to give us the best possibility of golden light to photograph the dramatic landscapes of Svalbard.
What to expect
September is the month of the magic light. The first sunset after 4½ months occurred late in August, and now the nights are slowly getting longer. While there will be some dark hours every night, there will also be many hours every morning and evening of low golden sun, adding a hue to Svalbard which is missed during the entire summer. Winter is not here yet, but it is not far off – there is a good chance we will have snowfall on several days.
Throughout the summer, most of the mammals and all the birds have been going through their breeding cycles. In September, many of the migratory birds have departed, or they are flocking up to ready themselves for migration towards warmer climes. The Svalbard Reindeer are now as fat as ever, ready for the cold season, and the Arctic Foxes are changing into their winter fur.
Polar Bears are present year round in Svalbard. In September, the cubs of the year are about 9 months old, still with their mothers. Sometimes we meet young, newly independent bears almost three years old – they are often extra inquisitive. Where we see Polar Bears depends a lot on the sea ice. Some years, there is still a lot of sea ice in September, meaning that we find the bears there. Other times, the sea ice has melted back so far that many bears are stranded on shore for the summer. In such years, we can travel far to the east and northeast, and here we often see bears roaming the shores, or even riding small icebergs.
While Polar bears are of course a highlight of any trip to Svalbard, and we will certainly take advantage of any encounters – but this will be a trip focusing in large part on the landscape of Svalbard. The hunt for bears on ice at this time of year can result in several days at sea with no landscape opportunities, as the ice pack is often far to the north of the islands. If bears on ice is your main priority, this is not the trip for you! However, if you want to experience the dramatic landscape of Svalbard and take advantage of the low-angled sun, this is most certainly the trip to come on.
In September, the seas are still teeming with life. It is usually a good month to see whales. Fin, Minke, Humpback and Blue Whales are feeding hectically. It is also during this part of the season we sometimes see White-beaked Dolphins, and the Harp Seals are often found in large flocks too. Also the Walrus are around, often hauled out in large groups – the females with their pups usually separated from the males.
We shall be using the small, but strong ship to position ourselves daily for the best possible wildlife encounters, landscape photographic opportunities and landings. We will make many landings to photograph the autumn colours unfolding against the backdrop of the soaring mountains of Spitsbergen. We shall also be going out in the Zodiacs, to explore wildlife, glacier fronts and coastal scenery up close.
You will board the vessel at the quay in Longyearbyen on August 31st. Shortly thereafter, the ship will set sail, and the adventure begins. In the late evening of Sep 9th, the vessel returns to the same spot, and you will disembark the following morning. In the meantime, you will have a daily program designed to maximize the photographic opportunities that are available. No two expeditions are ever the same. No two sailing routes are the same. The weather always changes. The location of the ice is unpredictable. What we will insure is a unique and extraordinary experience for all participants with the expertise of the guides and the crew combined with everybody’s flexibility and expeditionary spirit.
Peter and I have run many trips together, both in Svalbard and Iceland. We are there to ensure that you have an excellent photographic experience. Together with Morten, our highly experienced expedition leader, we will make best advantage of the weather and light to get you in the right place at the right time.
In particular, the southern parts of Spitsbergen are magnificent with soaring peaks and plunging glaciers. We will also endeavour to travel through the Hinlopen strait and photograph the dramatic ice cliffs of Brasvellbreen, perhaps even visiting the Seven Islands which mark Svalbard’s northernmost extent.
Our ship, the Antigua, is an experience to be aboard in itself, and is also a wonderful platform for a photography expedition with low decks and great visibility. With a capacity of 32 berths, we will only be filling a maximum of 21, giving plenty of room for your comfort. You’ll love the experience of being on an authentic triple masted barque with an experienced deck crew and all the necessary modern navigational equipment to ensure a safe and rewarding trip. We will be using high speed Zodiac boats for our daily excursions and landings with plenty of room for photographers and their gear.
Svalbard Expeditions short films
In 2015 I did a Svalbard Expedition in partnership with Joshua Holko. This short film (link below) about that expedition will give you an impression of some of what you will likely be experiencing.
Kingdom of the Ice Bear on Vimeo
Peter Cox also made a film from two of his Svalbard trips in 2014:
Svalbard – The High Arctic on Vimeo
Date: August 31 – September 10, 2018
Duration: 10 days / 10 nights
Cost: US $7,950 for a berth in a twin cabin – $10,950 for a single cabin
Group size: 21
Photography leaders: Daníel Bergmann and Peter Cox
Expedition leader: Morten Jørgensen
Transportation: Antigua & Zodiacs
10 nights of accommodation aboard the ship. All meals while on board. Guides and crew services. Daily excursions by Zodiac. Instructions from two world-class photo leaders. One of Svalbard’s most experienced expedition leaders. Lectures, briefings and shore side interpretations. Magnificent scenery and wonderful wildlife encounters. Great company and safe and friendly travel.
Does not include
Any pre- or post-cruise expenses including flights and transfers. Alcohol and soft drinks other than tea/coffee/water. Customary tips for crew and staff. Mandatory insurance.
Please contact me for further information and booking