A 5-day nature-watching and photo holiday to Svalbard
- wander among polar bears, blue whales and fjords this Summer 2021.
Covid-19 Update: This workshop will adapt to the developing situation, following the latest developments in government guidelines. If your booking becomes affected, we will be flexible and either shift travel dates or offer full refunds.
Location Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic
Dates Trip 1: 6th - 12th June 2020 - PROVISIONAL DATES
Trip 2: 12th - 18th June 2020 - PROVISIONAL DATES
Cost £2450 single / £2350 supplement incl. flights!
Group Size Maximum of 5 participants per trip
This trip is perfect for photographers and nature enthusiasts who want to see the amazing wildlife that the Arctic has to offer. Places are limited to ensure the best experience for everyone.
Lying halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is a wild land of glaciers and tundra, making it an irresistible destination for the artist or traveller inspired by nature. Unlike larger commercial tours, we will base ourselves for 5 full days in one location, the charming town of Longyearbyen, to make the most of its unique landscapes and help you get stunning images of walruses, whales, seabirds and our resident foxes!
Highlights of our stay in Longyearbyen will include:
Staying in a traditional cabin, with friendly huskies and eiders as our neighbours
Boat-trip and landing visit to a Walrus colony
Whale watching in the fjords - with high chances of Blue Whale, Beluga and rarer whales
Close encounters with Arctic Foxes on our own private property
Photograph Red-Throated Divers and tundra birds at nest and with chicks
Birdwatching on the lagoons for iconic Arctic species
Visits to nesting seabird colonies of Little Auk and Brunnich's Guillemot
Excursion to the town of Pyramiden, with good chance of Polar Bear on the glaciers
Activities are tailored to whatever animals are active at the time of day, as well as to weather/light conditions and participant preferences. Each day we will discuss options on how best to maximise your artistic and wildlife viewing opportunities.
All local outings and day excursions are optional, allowing for relaxed exploration and more intrepid creative sessions under the midnight sun! With 24 hours of daylight and many animals to see within minutes of our lodge, we can make repeat visits to sites to get the best out of our subjects.
Paul is an award-winning nature photographer, featured in British Wildlife Photography Awards and Scottish Nature Photography Awards. He regularly leads workshops in the UK, Italy and Svalbard.
Mattia has a particular fondness for bears and wolves, and regularly runs excursions to track these animals in his homeland of the Italian Abruzzo.
Unlike other more expensive Arctic tours, we will stay in one location so that you can deeply discover this unique environment over time. For the duration of the holiday, you will be based in a prime location for the best local wildlife and cultural opportunities. Staying at a comfortable renovated miners cabin above the town of Longyearbyen, you'll have arctic foxes, ptarmigan and reindeer as your friendly neighbours, allowing endless opportunities for artistic inspiration or to enjoy the view.
The cabin is equipped with private bedrooms, a communal kitchen, lounge area, bathroom and washing facilities, plus heating and wifi.
Just a short stroll from Longyearbyen centre with cafes, restaurants, gift shops and the North Pole Museum, as well as some of our favourite photo locations.
Ivory Gull (rare)
Sabine's Gull (rare)
We have also found rarities such as Broad-Billed Sandpiper (the first for Svalbard), American Snow Goose, Steller's Eider and American Golden Plover. What might you spot?
Birds Of The Tundra
You will have abundant opportunities to capture images of a dazzling variety of birds on the tundra lakes during the daytime and under the midnight sun. Unlike other photo tours, we will make the most of these golden hours of day to open creative possibilities for vibrant portraits.
These sessions are great fun and allow tremendous chances to photograph stunning bird portraits and breeding behaviour at very close range in flight and at water level, without need for a hide - many birds come very close! Paired with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, there's no place quite like it!
Photographable Species: King & Common Eider, Red-Throated Diver, Grey & Red-Necked Phalarope, Long-Tailed Duck, Arctic Skua, Pink-Footed Goose, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Reindeer
We will also make a couple of visits to the mountains to spot ptarmigan in the snow. As these are so close to our accommodation, it is easy to head up into the lower peaks at short notice. Males look fabulous with their red eyebrows and white coats whilst the softly patterned females allow for a more subtle photography approach in the tussocky grass.
Photographable Species: Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting, Purple Sandpiper, Pink-Footed Goose, Barnacle Goose, Reindeer
Walrus Safari - Optional Boat Trip
A day among this 30-strong walrus colony is highly recommended! We will either land at a beach colony or a glacial colony, depending on weather conditions. At both sites there will be the chance for close encounters, with walruses often coming into the water to check us out.
Our boat trip with Better Moments will pass through dramatic fjords and passed ancient glaciers and the bluest icebergs imaginable, home to seals and a variety of seabirds. There is a high chance of spotting a Blue Whale or the tail fluke of a Humpback, and we regularly see pods of up to 60 Belugas!
At the back of the boat, we can practise our flight photography on passing fulmars and guillemots as they ride the waves.
Photographable Species: Walrus, Bearded Seal, Ringed Seal, Blue Whale, Beluga Whale, Humpback Whale, "Blue" Fulmar, Arctic Tern, Kittiwake, Glaucous Gull, Brunnich's Guillemot, Common Guillemot and rarer cetaceans
*Please note that this tour is an optional add-on. If there is interest, we will tailor a personalised tour for you to arrange the best itinerary.
Little Auk Colony
The "penguins of the north"! Prepare to have your heart stolen by the charismatic little auks as they squawk just a few feet away from you. Paul and Mattia will get you into the best positions to capture close-ups, portraits and flight shots as they fly overhead in their thousands.
For those less keen on making the short ascent to the colony, the auk flocks can also be photographed from below. This is an excellent spot to watch for beluga whales and other seabirds and drink in the magnificent landscape of the surrounding fjords.
Photographable Species: Little Auk, "Blue" Fulmar", Arctic Skua, Kittiwake, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Snow Bunting, Beluga Whale, Arctic Fox
We offer 6 evening outings to see arctic foxes, to coincide with when they are most active hunting. We have had much luck in the past seeing foxes take eggs and show their opportunistic characters. As many as five individuals can be seen in a single night, and we'll spend as much time as possible getting to know their personalities and capture their behaviours. You may want extra camera batteries!
Cultural Half-Day and Full-Day Excursions
In addition to the many wildlife-viewing opportunities on our doorstep, you may want to venture further afield and see what else the Svalbard archipelago has to offer.
Better Moments and Discover Svalbard have years of experience taking groups like ours to the remoter areas of Svalbard. Whether it's kayaking in the fjords, walking with walruses (with whales and seabirds along the way), husky-sledding in the Advent Valley, or soaking in the historic mining town of Pyramiden and its glaciers, we will make sure that you have an Arctic experience to remember! *
*Please note that we will help tailor a personalised tour for you to arrange the best itinerary and prices. These typically start around £100 for half-day and £170 for full-day packages, leaving from the accommodation at 9am.
What Our Clients Say
"Best holiday we’ve ever had - and it’s not even our second day here!"
Hanne & Andrew - 2019
"I’m incredibly privileged to be in Svalbard and it’s by far one of the best experiences of my life. This trip has given me so much joy and wonder for our natural world"
Tori - 2019
"Huge thanks to Paul and Mattia for being so accommodating. They kindly adapted plans to suit our goals, and I learned so much in the process thanks to their guidance."
Matt - 2019
Food Breakfast (included at the cabin) will consist of pastries, toast and fresh fruit with coffee/tea and juice. Lunch will generally be larger meals with local produce, or fresh sandwiches on location. Depending on evening activities, dinner will be at the lodge or at a local restaurant.
Walking Light, as we will be reliant on transport between locations. Please contact us beforehand to discuss the suitability and if you have any mobility issues.
Group With a maximum of 6 participants, our small group size ensures everyone has a better personal experience. Paul and Mattia will be on hand to answer your questions and help you with observing animals whatever your skillset.
Polar Bears Bears are a potential risk wherever we go, so we will be taking the precaution of having an armed guard with us in remoter locations (more details upon sign-up).
Photo Gear We recommend that you bring a DSLR with a telephoto lens of 300mm or more. A wide-angle lens or GoPro can be used for more approachable animals.
Drones Please be aware of drone restrictions on excursions and in Longyearbyen. Read more.
Clothing It is important that participants wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the tundra. Please consult the recommended kit list PDF, attached above.
Weather Ranging from 5C to -4C. The wind factor is very mild; however it can quickly feel colder on boat trips and on higher-altitude activities such as husky sledding.
Flights We recommend flying from London to Svalbard (via Oslo). Please discuss with us so that we can recommend the best flight for you to take.
✓ Return flights from London to Svalbard
(please contact us so that we can recommend the best flights)
✓ Services of local photography and wildlife guides
✓ Evening group review and editing sessions
✓ A welcome presentation on the local fauna and sites
✓ 5 nights accommodation in a traditional Norwegian timber lodge
✓ 5 breakfasts at the cabin
✓ Some lunches and cooked dinners, dependant on day itineraries
✓ Airport pick-up and drop-off from Svalbard airport to our lodge
✓ Ground transportation in a minibus
What's Not Included
✗ Any Visa charges or airport taxes
✗ Personal and cancellation insurance*
✗ Meals and dinners taken in the local town
✗ Optional Walrus Safari full-day boat trip - highly recommended!
✗ Optional half day or full day excursions organised by the tour operators Better Moments and Discover Svalbard
✗ Personal snacks and beverages
✗ Some dinners in town
✗ Personal expenses
✗ Any additional overnight stays
* To take part in our trip, you must be covered by adequate insurance for its entire duration. The insurance must cover for cancellation, medical and emergency expenses. We recommend insurance against damage or loss of baggage, camera equipment, instruments and personal items.
Terms & Conditions
For full terms and conditions, including our cancellation policy and personal travel insurance, please click to see the Terms & Conditions
Make A Booking Enquiry
Once your booking has been confirmed, a £300 deposit will be required per person to secure your place.
Enjoy this little video of Svalbard's beautiful landscapes and wildlife - hope to see you there in 2021!