|Spitsbergen - natural history of the high Arctic|
|3 - 13 Jul 2012 (11 days)|
Natural History & More
An awe-inspiring 10 day Arctic cruise, exploring the spectacular land of the ice bear.
The archipelago of Spitsbergen (also known as Svalbard) lies well north of the Arctic Circle, midway between Norway's North Cape (the nothernmost point on mainland Europe) and the North Pole. During the summer, the sun never sets: although don't worry, there are good blinds on the windows! During our voyage we hope to circumnavigate the whole archipelago, although our exact route will depend on the current extent of the sea ice.
Inevitably, the species diversity so far north is pretty low: the islands are home to just 165 species of vascular plants and only three species of land mammal, but this is more than made up for with the sheer numbers, especially of the marine life. Around 850,000 pairs of Brunnich's Guillemots and over a million pairs of Little Auk nest amongst the islands' cliffs, with several species of seal and whale abundant in the rich waters. The human population is outnumbered by that of the world's largest land predator, the Polar Bear!
As we travel around the archipelago, we will make daily excursions out to explore the various islands and fjords, enjoying spectacular glaciers, wonderful views and travelling up to the bleak but wildlife-rich expanses of the polar pack ice. We will spent time at vast seabird colonies and walrus haul-outs, visit the world's most northerly village (including the world's most northerly post office!), sail amongst icebergs calved off from amazing glaciers and cruise the edge of the pack ice, where Polar Bears hunt for seals, attended by scavenging Ivory Gulls. From here, a Polar Bear could (theoretically) walk right to the North Pole...
We will travel aboard the MV Plancius, a former oceanographic research vessel now completely rebuilt and converted to a very comfortable 114-passenger vessel. For more details of the ship, click here.
Leader: Philip Precey, with Oceanwide guides
Price: £5085 (twin room); £4425 (quad room)
Single Room Supplement: ask us for details