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Join Gavin Pretor-Pinney (Member 0001) on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure to a truly unique place on our planet, during one of its most astounding seasons. We are heading on an adventure to the vast wilderness of the Svalbard archipelago, located halfway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole, deep inside the Arctic Circle. This holiday offers you the rare chance to visit an area that may change forever as our climate changes. It will be easy to lose track of time with the Midnight Sun always in the sky, as our trip falls within the magical ‘Polar Summer’ season.
We will enjoy a talk by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Founder and Member 0001 of the Cloud Appreciation Society with his fascinating and entertaining view of our skies, as well as by a local expert, who has livedin the harsh conditions of Svalbard for 23 years. The talk will cover a range of topics such as Arctic expeditions, Polar Night and Lights, Arctic animals, the history of Svalbard and the effect of environmental change in the area.
Over half of Svalbard’s landscape is made up of National Parks and our activities will focus on enjoying our surroundings and the stunning wildlife. We’ll hike along flat coastal areas and on the outskirts of a bird sanctuary, travel by boat to get close to glaciers and bird cliffs and explore fascinating local settlements.
We will enjoy stays at two characterful accommodations, allowing us to experience the complete contrast of Svalbard’s version of ‘city life’ versus the solitude of a remote outpost. Beginning in the small coal-mining town of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen Island, we’ll stay at the welcoming Basecamp Hotel. A highlight of the itinerary will then involve heading over to Isfjord Radio, a completely remote and unique hotel.
The sun doesn’t set on Svalbard from around 19 April to 23 August; a phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun. Basking in the sun’s rays in the middle of the night is a rare and special feeling – there are very few places in the world that you can experience this – and it allows us even more time to marvel at the sky.
Everyone who lives in or visits Svalbard is enthralled by its beautiful nature. It is known as the Polar Bear’s Kingdom, as the islands are home to around 3,000. We will learn about how the bears are protected in their sensitive habitat; it will be down to chance whether we spot one of the ‘Kings of the Arctic’ as we take our boat journeys around the area. We will also look out for some of the seal and whale species that visit the area, along with the Svalbard Reindeer and Arctic foxes.
During the summer, around 30 species of birds migrate to the Svalbard area – yet another reason to cast our eyes to the skies. They certainly won’t be difficult to spot, as the island is home to around 20 million birds in summertime. We’ll enjoy open boat safaris along the bird cliffs and walk around the outskirts of the Kapp Linné bird sanctuary, which is located on the doorstep of Isfjord Radio Hotel.
Svalbard comprises of all islands, islets and reefs that lie between 74° and 81° north latitude and 10° and 35° eastern length. Our destination is Spitsbergen, which is the largest island, just 850 miles from the North Pole.
After the area was discovered in 1596 by the Dutch explorer, Willem Barentsz, many other nationalities followed, mainly to exploit the natural resources. Svalbard was known as a bit of a ‘no-man’s land’ until the Svalbard Treaty in 1920, when it became part of the Kingdom of Norway. Since then, Norway has carried out a lot of work for the protection of endangered animal species, habitats and heritage sites.
Longyearbyen has inhabitants from around 50 nations and is the world’s northern-most urban community. There is not an original local or indigenous people, but most people who come remain forever ‘Svalbardians’ in their hearts.
We’ve chosen a fantastic time to tread the paths of these adventurers, as our trip falls within the warmest month of the year.
(Please note that due to the characteristics of the destination the days, timings and running-order of activities may vary.)
We travel from Oslo
Our trip begins in Oslo, capital of Norway. We’ll fly north to the town of Longyearbyen, on Spitsbergen Island in Svalbard. There, we will be transferred by private coach (10 mins) to the Basecamp Hotel, our home for the first night. The welcoming and comfortable hotel is rustic in style, designed to feel as though it was built from driftwood and has many hidden corners, adding to its character.
Upon arrival you’ll find your Cloud Appreciation Society welcome bag, including your special embroidered patch created exclusively to commemorate this trip. We will enjoy a welcome drink before some free time to settle in.
This evening, we’ll drive 15 mins out of town to a Trapper’s Station for our 2-course welcome dinner. This will be our first initial step out into the Arctic landscape. The station is home to 100 huskies and represents what a traditional Trapper’s Station would have looked like. Our dinner will be tasty, rustic and prepared using local products.
Overnight: Basecamp Hotel, 9171, Longyearbyen, Svalbard.
Included: Flight from Oslo-Gardermoen to Longyearbyen, transfer by coach to our hotel, welcome drink, welcome dinner (1 drink included per person, additional drinks can be purchased).
Flights to Oslo are not included: All guests need to be at Oslo-Gardermoen Airport in good time for our departure to Longyearbyen (please see ‘Prices and Details’ below for timings).
We learn about life in the Arctic and journey to Isfjord Radio
After a leisurely breakfast and a relaxing coffee, we will enjoy an illustrated talk about the local area. We can look forward to a fascinating and varied talk on subjects such as Arctic animals, Arctic expeditions, Polar Night and Lights, the history of Svalbard, and the impact of climate change on the area.
The talk will really set the scene of this amazing destination, and after lunch we will have some free time to explore Longyearbyen. If you wish, you can visit the Svalbard Museum, which provides a broad and comprehensive knowledge of history and nature in the Arctic, or the North Pole Expedition Museum, to learn about the heroic efforts made by pioneers to reach the North Pole at the turn of the 20th century.
In the afternoon we will board our boats that will take us over to Isfjord Radio Hotel, our accommodation for the next three nights. The journey should take around 2 hours.
You will never forget the moment that you arrive at the unique Isfjord Radio Hotel, with its stunning coastal backdrop and remote location. As its name suggests, this hotel was originally built as a radio station in 1933 and first opened its doors to hotel guests in 1996.
Dinners at Isfjord Radio Hotel are one of the highlights of our stay. Their dishes follow an ‘Arctic Food Philosophy’, creatively combining age-old methods and local ingredients with mouth-watering flavours. We’ll be lucky enough to enjoy their Arctic-inspired menus each evening.
Overnight: Isfjord Radio Hotel, 9172, Isfjord På Svalbard.
Included: Breakfast at Basecamp Hotel, expert illustrated talk, lunch in Longyearbyen, boat transfer to Isfjord Radio Hotel, dinner at Isfjord Radio (excluding drinks).
Not included: Entrance to the museums in Longyearbyen (optional activity).
We explore the island by boat and by foot
Starting the day with a healthy, traditional Nordic breakfast buffet will prepare us for our day out exploring this fascinating area.
With lots of time to take in the beautiful views during the day, we will travel by boat, crossing the fjord towards the east. Our first destination will be the bird cliffs of Alkehornet to spot the thousands of nesting birds. There is also a chance to see some of the Arctic foxes that hunt around this area.
In Trygghamna we go ashore and enjoy a camp lunch at the beach, before heading towards Ymerbukta to see the scenic Esmark Glacier dropping into the sea. If we’re lucky, we might spot whales, seals or even get a glimpse of the “King of the Arctic”, the polar bear.
With 1-2 hours spent on-board the boat and 3-4 hours spent on land or walking, we’ll really get in touch with the nature and wildlife of the area.
After this unforgettable day out, there is free time on arrival back at the hotel to reflect upon our experiences, relax taking in the views through the panoramic windows, or enjoy the Arctic Sauna overlooking Isfjorden. The day will end with another delicious dinner.
Overnight: Isfjord Radio Hotel, 9172, Isfjord På Svalbard.
Included: Breakfast, guided activity, packed lunch, dinner (excluding drinks).
We venture further along the Nordenskiöld coast
Today we will put on our hiking boots and head out for a day walking along the Nordenskiöld coast. We will tuck into another fantastic breakfast buffet before we set off for the walk around mid-morning.
The route we will walk is mainly flat and allows us plenty of time to learn about and see more of the wildlife of the area – and we will hopefully spot a local walrus colony that have visited the area for a number of years. There are many interesting stories to be heard along the way, as the Nordenskiöld coast is full of history and local tales of whalers and hunters.
The route takes us off the beaten track so a packed lunch will be enjoyed along the way, giving us plenty of time to enjoy our environment, surrounded by stunning scenery with lots of opportunities to capture some great photographs.
Upon arrival back to Isfjord Radio around 16:00, we’ll have some free time to relax in another sauna or relfect on another day in the beauty of the Arctic tranquility. Before another wonderful dinner, we will listen to an illustrated talk about the sky by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Cloud Appreciation Society founder and Member 0001. Gavin will take us on a tour of our atmosphere. He will teach us how to spot many amazing cloud formations and show us why cloudspotting is a perfect antidote to the pressures of the digital world.
Overnight: Isfjord Radio Hotel, 9172, Isfjord På Svalbard.
Included: Breakfast, guided hike approx. 7-10 miles, packed lunch, dinner (excluding drinks).
We encounter birds, visit Barentsburg and head back to Longyearbyen
After a relaxing sleep and another hearty breakfast, we will depart on a short hike near the Kapp Linné bird sanctuary next to the hotel. This important nature reserve stretches from the west of Randvika, down to the south east end of Fyrsjøen, including the sea and surrounding islands. To not disturb the ground nesting birds, we will work our way around the edge of the reserve from where we hope to spot a variety of iconic birds such as the Arctic Fulmar, the Common Eider, the Arctic Tern, the Barnacle Goose and the Arctic Skua – and perhaps even an opportunistic Arctic fox.
It will then be time to say goodbye to the Isfjord Radio area as we board our boat. On our way back over to Longyearbyen we’ll stop in the intriguing settlement of Barentsburg, a working Russian mining town with around 350 residents and an experience not to be missed. Soaking up the character of Barentsburg is unforgettable during this fascinating visit, with its imposing statue of Lenin and spectacular fjord setting. We will take a short tour round the streets of the settlement, before enjoying lunch at the town’s brewery.
The boat will be waiting to take us to back to Longyearbyen, where we will spend our last night in Svalbard back at Basecamp Hotel. A special farewell dinner will be had at a restaurant in town.
Overnight: Isfjord Radio Hotel, 9172, Isfjord På Svalbard.
Included: Breakfast, boat transfer, lunch in Barentsburg, farewell dinner in Longyearbyen (1 drink included per person, additional drinks can be purchased).
After our tasty breakfast, we’ll be taken by private coach to Longyearbyen Airport for our flight to Oslo.
Included: Breakfast, transfer to Longyearbyen Airport, return flight to Oslo.
Flights from Oslo to your home country are not included: All guests need to make sure they have left enough time between our arrival at Oslo-Gardermoen Airport and their onward flight (please see ‘Prices and Details’ below for timings).
Shared room approx. equivalent to €4,470 EUR (incl. tax) / $4,925 USD (incl. tax) / $7,270 AUD (incl. tax), depending on exchange rates at time of purchase.
Price includes everything listed in the ‘What’s Included’ section.
Deposit: £850 per person is payable at the time of booking (approx. equivalent is €960 EUR / $1055 USD / $1560 AUD). The balance will be due 12 weeks prior to the departure date.
Payments: can be made by bank transfer, or by credit or debit card (with no handling fees). We are unable to accept American Express.
Flights: into and out of Oslo are not included, but our tour operator, Cloudberry Journeys, will be happy to book flights and any overnight accommodation in Oslo to suit your needs. It is your responsibility to ensure you leave enough time between your arrival at Oslo and our departure to Svalbard, and similarly between our arrival back into Oslo and your onward flight.
19 July 2020, we fly from Oslo-Gardermoen to Longyearbyen on Flight SK4414 departing at 09:55.
24 July 2020, we arrive back at Oslo-Gardermoen on Flight SK4491 at 16:30.
N.B. we require a minimum number of people to run the trip.
Some of the itinerary details may be subject to change, due to the nature of our destination.
Mixture of twin and triple rooms
Most rooms have bunk beds
All rooms have private en-suite bathrooms
Isfjord Radio hotel:
Mixture of twin and double rooms
All rooms have shared bathrooms
There is a limited number of rooms we can offer for single occupancy.
Our partners for this trip, Cloudberry Journeys, and our partners in Svalbard, Basecamp Explorer, both pro-actively support sustainable tourism.
Cloudberry Journeys off-set carbon by supporting projects such as reforestation in the UK and the Amazon, and providing efficient cookstoves in Kenya.
Basecamp Explorer have their own foundation, championing sustainability projects around the world.
Return flights between Oslo and Longyearbyen (Svalbard)
5-nights’ hotel accommodation
All breakfasts, lunches and dinners during the trip – including a Trapper’s Station dinner and a special farewell dinner
A welcome drink, a drink during the Trapper’s Station dinner, and a drink during the farewell dinner
Tea and coffee always available at the hotels
Guiding throughout the trip
Transfers (on either coach or boat)
Boat and walking safaris (as shown in the itinerary)
A Cloud Appreciation Society welcome bag with special commemorative embroidered patch to mark the trip
Expert illustrated talk about the local area
Illustrated Cloud Appreciation Society talk
Flights between your home city and Oslo (Cloudberry Journeys can arrange these for you when you make contact about your booking and offer some great suggestions for adding to your travel, such as city stays in Oslo or Copenhagen, as well as iconic train journeys across the mountains of Norway)
Any accommodation in Oslo before or after our group flights
Any travel visas (check here whether you need a visa)
Any camera / photography equipment
Warm, waterproof walking boots
Wind- and waterproof clothes
Thermal / wool underwear and layers for cooler nights and boat trips
A suggested packing list will be provided closer to travel.
If you have a good general fitness level, a willing attitude and adventurous spirit then, yes, this trip is for you!
We will have use of 2 different types of boat for our trip (one covered, one open), which the group will be separated between, and we will be getting on and off them both at quaysides and jetties in harbours, as well as on the rocky beaches and coastline a few times during the holiday. They will be our main means of transport and are the only way to access many of the fantastic places we will visit.
One boat is more comfortable where you sit inside, out of the wind and spray, and there is no need to wear a dry suit durings the journeys; this boat can carry 12 people. The other is an open RIB boat, which requires you to wear a dry suit and carry up to 10 people – there may be some sea spray depending on the conditions. We have included images above to show you how the boats look.
The boat trips can be 2 hours or more in duration and be can be bumpy depending upon the sea conditions so are not suitable if you have a bad back or are pregnant.
Generally, the walking is on relatively easy, flat terrain, sometimes on marked trails but often on unmarked routes. It can be uneven and rocky underfoot, and we may need to cross some small rivers or streams so good quality waterproof footwear is required. You will need to bring a day pack on the walks to carry things such as extra layers of clothing, a packed lunch and something to drink.
Our guides will decide on the best walking routes on the day depending upon the local conditions and the group. On the day hike, as a guideline we could walk between 7-10 miles / 11-16 kilometres.
There are no toilets in the wilderness, so when hiking we must use the nature as our facilities!
The average temperate at this time of year is around 6°C / 42°F. If you prepare well with several interchangeable layers, for example woollen or thermal base layers, warm mid-layers such as fleece, and wind and waterproof outer layers, with a hat and gloves, you will be well-equipped.