Svalbard Polar Bear Expedition
August 4-14, 2020
In the summer of 2020 I will lead a photography expedition to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, located deep within the Arctic Circle. This expedition is for a limited number of just 12 participants. One of our main goals will be to find and photograph Polar Bears in its natural habitat out on the pack ice and Svalbard has historically been one of the most reliable places to photograph bears. Together with the captain and our expedition leader we will decide upon the best strategy to find and photograph Polar Bears on sea ice along with other charismatic Arctic wildlife, plunging glaciers and captivating landscapes.
We will be using the ice hardened expedition ship M/S Origo that will enable us to skirt the edge of the pack ice if it will be within reach. M/S Origo is widely regarded as one of the best ships in the Arctic for wildlife photography. With low-lying decks it is possible to photograph Polar Bears, Walrus, seals, whales and birds closer and lower than on most other ships. Our expedition ship is also equipped with sufficient zodiacs (2 x Zodiac MKV models) for all photographers to be shooting simultaneously with plenty of room to spare for camera equipment.
Our flexible itinerary
Upon leaving the small town of Longyearbyen we will know what we will aim for but our plans will change with what we find and with the ice and weather we encounter. Although Polar Bears will be high on our list of photography subjects, the full Svalbard experience is about so much more than the iconic Arctic predator. We will have 10 days to explore the islands and with crew that is able to operate the ship around the clock we can cover a great deal of terrain if we so choose. We might even circumnavigate Spitsbergen, Svalbard’s largest island –something that was not possible a few years ago due to ice.
What to expect
Throughout the summer, most of the mammals and all the birds are hectically going through their breeding cycle. The snow has melted back, and much of the ice too – providing the wildlife with rich feeding opportunity. During our cruise, we will see the summer season at its height. Flowers are still plentifully in bloom, and birds and mammals alike are feeding their young.
Polar Bears are present year round in Svalbard. In August, the cubs of the year are about 8 months old, still with their mothers. Those cubs that have reached 2,5 years of age are off on their own for the first time in their lives. Sometimes we meet these young, newly independent bears – 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 August, 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.
July is also a good month to see whales. Fin, Minke, Humpback and Blue Whales are feeding hectically during this month. We sometimes see White-beaked Dolphins, and the Harp Seals are often found in large flocks too.
We still have 24-hour daylight and the light quality during the evening, night and early morning is soft and pleasing. This gives us opportunity to enjoy some long days with an extended flexibility of the program. We may add extra landings or Zodiac excursion, and we may shift some mealtimes to make extra use of opportunities provided.
We will make a number of walks across the tundra, watching the Reindeer feed, the geese and Arctic Terns attending to their young, and the flowers adding colours. We shall also be going out in the inflatables, to explore wildlife, glacier fronts and coastal scenery up close.
You will have a daily program designed to maximize the wildlife and wilderness 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. The wildlife is – just that – wild! What will ensure a unique and extraordinary experience for all participants is the expertise of the guides and the crew combined with everybody’s flexibility and expeditionary spirit.
Svalbard short film
In 2015 I did a Svalbard Expedition in partnership with Joshua Holko. This short film (link below) about that expedition will give you a good impression of what you will likely be experiencing.
Kingdom of the Ice Bear on Vimeo
Date: August 4-14, 2020
Duration: 10 days/nights
Cost: From $12,450 USD
Group size: 12
Photography leaders: Daniel Bergmann and Skarpi Thrainsson
Transportation: M/S Origo & Mark V Zodiacs
Included in the cost:
• 10 nights of accommodation aboard the ship
• all meals while on board
• water, coffee/tea ad libitum
• guides and crew services
• daily excursions by Zodiac (only 6 guests per Zodiac)
• instructions from highly experienced photo leaders
• one of Svalbard’s most experienced expedition leader
• lectures, briefings and shore side interpretations
• magnificent scenery and wonderful wildlife encounters
• great company and safe and friendly travel
Excluded in the cost:
• any pre- or post-cruise expenses including flights and transfers
• other drinks than mentioned above
• customary tips for crew and staff
• mandatory insurance
• anything else not specified as included
Please contact me for further information and booking