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A high Arctic archipelago situated between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is a place of deep fjords, snow-capped mountains, massive sheets of ice, and magnificent polar bears. Travel under the midnight sun aboard the National Geographic Explorer and experience nature in its purest form.
Search for the very symbol of the Arctic—the polar bear—and observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
Take naturalist-led shore walks, and cruise among beautiful passing icebergs in a Zodiac or a kayak.
Experience the legendary midnight sun: the ethereal light of the northern summer, when the sun never sets.
Watch for huge walruses, bearded and ringed seals, arctic foxes, and reindeer.
Itinerary - 11 Days
Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Oslo, Norway
Depart on an overnight flight to Oslo. Upon arrival, check into our hotel. On an afternoon tour of this charming city, stroll among the famed Vigeland sculptures—hundreds of life-size human figures set in terraced parklands. Visit the Fram Museum, showcasing the polar ship Fram and dedicated to one of the explorers and wooden vessels that navigated the Arctic Sea in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This evening is free to explore Oslo on your own from the Thon Hotel Bristol.
Day 3 — Oslo/Longyearbyen
Depart Oslo on a private charter flight, and enjoy breathtaking vistas en route to Longyearbyen. Embark the National Geographic Explorer, your base for the next six days. (B,L,D)
Days 4 through 9 — Exploring Svalbard
This voyage is undertaken in the spirit of discovery, and our travel in the archipelago is exploratory by design. In a region ruled not by humans but by polar bears, we let nature guide our course. Svalbard lies north of the Arctic Circle, where the summer midnight sun never sets. With our fully stabilized ice-class expedition ship, we are able to probe the ice in search of wildlife; our exact day-to-day itinerary remains flexible, depending on local ice and weather conditions. Zodiacs and kayaks take us closer to experience the region's geologic features and wildlife and wildflowers that flourish during the summer months.
With our National Geographic photographer and a seasoned naturalist staff, venture to the foot of stunning tidewater glaciers, kayak among sparkling icebergs, and explore fjords that split the rugged coastlines. Hike through miniature gardens blooming on the tundra; and search the edge of the pack ice for polar bears, walruses, seals, reindeer, and arctic foxes. Nowhere can the polar bear be seen more reliably in its natural environment than here. (B,L,D daily)
Day 10 — Longyearbyen/Oslo
In Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in Svalbard, disembark and enjoy time to explore. Founded by an American coal executive in 1906, this is one of the northernmost human settlements on Earth. Fly back to Oslo this afternoon. Radisson Blu Hotel (B,L)
Day 11 — Oslo/U.S.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the return flight home. (B)
A diverse team of experts, including naturalists, historians, and a National Geographic photographer, will accompany each expedition aboard the National Geographic Explorer. See one of the members of our extraordinary team below.
Journalist and author Fen Montaigne's work has appeared in National Geographic, The New Yorker, Outside, Smithsonian, and the Wall Street Journal Hie acclaimed book Fraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica recounts five months on the Antarctic Peninsula working with ecologist Bill Fraser, who has long studied the impact of rapid warming on the region and its Adélie penguins. A former Moscow bureau chief of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Montaigne is also the author of Reeling in Russia, and he has co-authored two other books. For his work on Fraser’s Penguins, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006. Fen is the principal lecturer for the National Geographic Great Courses course Polar Explorations, and senior editor of the online magazine Yale Environment 360.