Venture to the wonders of the north on an epic expedition aboard the National Geographic Explorer that combines the polar bears of Svalbard, the geological phenomena of Iceland, and the ice-hewn coasts of Greenland. Kayak among incandescent icebergs, visit some of the most remote settlements on Earth, and watch for polar bears, walruses, and whales on a quest to discover the Arctic’s grand wilderness.
Using the latest satellite imagery and the ice-strengthened hull of the
National Geographic Explorer, we find navigable spots among the ice to
discover some of the planet’s most pristine waters.
This itinerary is shaped by potential wildlife sightings, increasing our
opportunities for spotting walruses, whales, reindeer, and polar bears.
Slip among massive ice floes, and view icebergs at water level while
exploring by kayak and Zodiac.
Go ashore with our naturalists to hike Svalbard’s vast tundra and explore
remote Icelandic isles.
Itinerary - 17 Days
Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Oslo, Norway
Fly overnight to Oslo and check in to the SAS Radisson Blu Airport Hotel. Explore this charming city upon arrival. Stroll amid the famed Vigeland sculptures—hundreds of life-size human figures set in parkland. Then visit the Fram Museum, dedicated to the wooden ship sailed by Norwegian polar explorers Nansen and Amundsen.
(Day 2: B, D)
Day 3 — Oslo/Longyearbyen
Catch a charter flight to Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in Svalbard, and embark the National Geographic Explorer. (B,L,D)
Days 4 through 16 — Exploring Svalbard, Greenland, and Iceland
Situated far above the Arctic Circle, Svalbard is an archipelago of deep fjords, snowcapped mountains, massive ice sheets—and it’s one of the best places to see polar bears in their natural environment. Venture to the foot of vast tidewater glaciers, kayak among sparkling icebergs, hike the tundra, and explore fjords that split the coastline.
Then turn west toward he Greenland Sea. In keeping with the nature of a true Arctic expedition, our itinerary here is defined by the water. Using the latest satellite imagery—and our extensive experience exploring the region—we’ll chart where the ice is impenetrable and choose our route accordingly. Our strengthened hull and forward-searching sonar, as well as agile Zodiacs and kayaks, allow us to make forays amid the ice to search for wildlife.
Be on deck as our captain navigates among icebergs that drift from calving glaciers along Greenland’s eastern shore. If the ice yields, we’ll maneuver into the Scoresbysund fjord to visit a remote settlement as it awakens from winter’s icy grip. If the ice does not relent, we’ll venture farther south to spectacular fjords that are generally ice free at this time of year, or head to Iceland to continue our explorations. Our voyage ends on Iceland’s west coast, where we’ll visit the picturesque town of Ísafjördur, spot razorbills on the immense Látrabjarg cliffs, and visit the former trading post of Flatey Island. (B,L,D daily)
Day 17 — Reykjavík, Iceland/U.S.
In Reykjavík, get a guided overview of the old town and soak in the famous Blue Lagoon prior to our flight home. (B,L)
As the longtime photo editor for National Geographic Traveler magazine, Dan Westergren was responsible for the magazine’s photographic vision, which has earned the publication numerous awards for photography. Dan enjoys exploring cold, high places, having photographed the Arctic while on expedition with Will Steger and the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, and the Matterhorn for the pages of Traveler. He also enjoys leading photo workshops for the Society, and is a popular photography instructor.
Travelers can choose between a light or moderate activity level. For a light level of activity, they should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.
For a moderate level, travelers should be prepared for multiple hours of physical activity (e.g. hiking, kayaking, biking) each day.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.