A R C T I C A D V E N T U R E
J U N E 2 0 2 4
A 6-night nature-watching and photo holiday to Svalbard - wander among Arctic foxes, whales and fjords in June 2024.
T R I P O V E R V I E W
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 resident foxes!
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 intrepid creative sessions under the midnight sun. With 24 hours of daylight and many animals within minutes of our lodge, we can make repeat visits to sites to get the best out of our subjects. This trip is therefore perfect for photographers and nature enthusiasts who want to see the amazing wildlife that the Arctic has to offer.
H I G H L I G H T S
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 around town
Photograph courtship of Red-Throated Divers, King Eiders and tundra bird species
Bird photography at water-level on the lagoons for iconic Arctic species
Visits to nesting seabird colonies of Little Auk and Brunnich's Guillemot
Excursion to the historic town of Pyramiden, with good chance of seeing Polar Bear on the glaciers and Whales in the fjords
Unlike other more costly 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 in Longyearbyen, you'll have arctic foxes and reindeer as your 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.
O U R B A S E
I T I N E R A R Y
Day 1: Meet in Oslo, where we fly onwards to Svalbard. We'll transfer to our accommodation, just a 10-minute drive from the airport and overlooking the town of Longyearbyen. Dinner at a nearby restaurant, with views of the town - it's not unusual to spot arctic fox or reindeer from the window!). Restful evening, meet-and-greet and talk through plan for the week. Optional evening drive for Arctic Foxes and tundra birds.
Day 2: After breakfast, we head into the Adventdalen Valley. The lagoons along this 10km stretch of road hold a dizzying variety of breeding birds such as King and Common Eider (and sometimes Steller's), Red-Necked and Grey Phalarope, Long-Tailed Duck, Red-Throated Diver, Pink-Footed Geese, Purple and Pectoral Sandpiper, Snow Bunting, and the possibility of rarities like an Ivory Gull or Buff-Breasted Sandpiper. We will have unparalleled photo opportunities with these birds at water level and very close proximity - it's not unusual for phalaropes to swim inches from us as they feed like little spinning tops. We will focus on capturing courtship, breeding and territorial behaviours, and getting a variety of beautiful-lit portrait, reflection and action shots. We'll return to town for lunch and provisions, and spend the afternoon at a Common Eider colony, with approximately 200 nesting birds. Dinner in town, and an evening drive for Arctic Foxes on the coastal road. If energy is high in our group, we can revisit the tundra birds which look magnificent under the midnight sun.
Day 3: The first half of this day is the Walrus Safari. Departing our hotel at 9am, we will head out by boat either to a beach colony at Poolepynten or to a nearer glacial colony, where we can expect to photograph up to 30 walruses on land and in water (sometimes very close to the boat). En route we'll pass through spectacular fjords and ancient blue glaciers, where we may see Seals (Bearded, Ringed), Whales (Blue, Beluga, Humpback), and seabirds on the ice or flying close to the boat which can offer excellent fly-by photos ("Blue" Fulmar, Arctic Tern, Kittiwake, Glaucous and Iceland Gull, Brunnich's and Common Guillemot). We return to Longyearbyen at 3:30pm. The afternoon is open for more tundra birds and Arctic Foxes along the coastal road. Dinner in town, and an optional midnight sun drive for those who fancy it.
Day 4: After breakfast, we'll drive to the nearby coastal road lagoons. Our focus this morning is the colony of Little Auks, with several thousand birds nesting on the dramatic chimney stack of the Vestpynten cliffs. We'll photograph these endearing birds as they fly back and forth to their nests. We'll also scan the sea here for migrating Belugas or Humpback Whales. On the way back to town for lunch, we'll pass by the historic boatyard and the Seed Vault, two historic points of interest. After lunch, we drive the full extent of the Adventdalen to the Isfjord Radio in the mountains, to locate ptarmigan and reindeer (we may stop en route for tundra birds and waders if there is any interesting activity going on or any rarities present). The Svalbard Ptarmigan is all-white with striking red eyebrows, and we should find him and his partner on the snowy peaks. Evening in town, and optional evening drive for Arctic Foxes and tundra birds.
Day 5: A full day boat-trip to the abandoned Soviet mining town of Pyramiden. Our boat passes through Billefjorden and the cobalt blue Nordenskiold glacier. From the boat, we can photograph seabirds such as Puffins and Brunnich's Guillemot which nest on the Diabas Bird Cliffs. Depending on sea ice levels, we have a good chance of finding Polar Bears on the ice, and Beluga, Humpback or even Blue Whale. We return to Longyearbyen around 7pm. Dinner in town, with an optional evening drive for Arctic Foxes and tundra birds.
Day 6: We will spend our last morning in the Adventdalen with the eiders and tundra birds, targeting any species that our group would like to focus on. Lunch in Longyearbyen. Chance to visit the Svalbard Museum and North Pole Museum, explore the town, and to buy any souvenirs. Afternoon in the mountains with ptarmigan and reindeer, and "mopping up" any animal behaviours and portraits that we want for our portfolios. Dinner in Longyearbyen. A final quick evening drive for Arctic Foxes, before our late flight back to the UK.
Day 7: Return to the UK, via Oslo.
W H A T W E C A N F I N D
We offer 6 evening outings to see arctic foxes, to coincide with when they are most actively 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. We'll spend as much time as possible getting to know their personalities and capturing their behaviours. You'll want spare camera batteries!
Tundra - Bird Courtship
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 Eider, Common Eider, Red-Throated Diver, Grey Phalarope, Red-Necked Phalarope, Long-Tailed Duck, Arctic Skua, Arctic Tern, Pink-Footed Goose, Barnacle Goose, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Reindeer
We have occasionally found and photographed rarities such as Broad-Billed Sandpiper (a first for Svalbard!), Steller's Eider, Snow Goose, and American Golden Plover. What might you find?