The High Arctic is a place to inspire the imagination.
Nowhere is it more accessible than the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, located deep within the Arctic Circle. Follow in the footsteps of great explorers by joining Joshua Holko and one of Svalbard’s most experienced expedition leaders, on a once in a lifetime expedition to the permanent pack ice north of Svalbard to photograph Polar Bears living and hunting on the sea ice. Nowhere else can the Polar Bear be seen more reliably in its natural habitat, and photographing these magnificent animals will be our main objective. We will also search for walrus and the other wildlife of the region.
Dramatic glaciers, plunging cliffs and beautiful drift ice formations will be present as well.
This expedition has been more than 10 months in the planning and has been designed to provide the best possible opportunities to photograph polar bears in their natural environment. With the reduction in Arctic sea ice, the Polar Bears in Svalbard are dwindling in numbers and the amount of years left to photograph them is, unfortunately, limited. Late July is the ideal time to photograph polar bears north of Svalbard, due to the dwindling sea ice around the archipelago.
This exclusive expedition is for a strictly limited number of just 12 participants (plus leader), and is dedicated to the photography of Polar Bears.
Our intention is to sail directly north from the small town of Longyearbyen in Svalbard to approximately 80o degrees north, to the very edge of the permanent pack ice. At our northerly most point we will likely be less than 600 miles from the North Pole and, depending on the sea ice, we may get even closer. We will be using the ice hardened expedition ship M.S Origo to skirt the edge of the pack ice, searching for and photographing Polar Bears. M.S Origo is widely regarded as the best ship in the Arctic for polar bear photography. With low-lying decks and operable portholes a mere 60cm above the water line, we can photograph at eye level with wild Polar Bears. Our expedition ship is also equipped with sufficient zodiacs (2 x Zodiac MKV models) and crew for all photographers to be shooting simultaneously with plenty of room to spare for camera equipment - so bring what you need.
If you are excited by the idea of travelling to the edge of the permanent pack ice to photograph Polar Bears in their natural environment with a small group of dedicated photographers, now is the time to secure your place. Places are very limited and once they are spoken for, that’s it.
How far we travel along the edge of the pack ice will depend on how many Polar Bears we encounter, and on reports of their recent locations. On this expedition we will be carrying a naturalist who specializes in locating Polar Bears, and an expedition leader and captain who has years of experience in placing us in the ideal position to make the best photographs. Their expertise will allow us to approach the king of the Arctic as closely and safely as possible and make incredible photographs under the midnight sun.
All in-tour ship and zodiac transportations and guide services and all tuition.
Accommodation for ten nights on M.S Origo.
Food and beverages - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (excluding alcohol).
All Zodiac excursions and Zodiac fuel.
Polar bears, whales, walrus and other Arctic wildlife.
Incredible arctic landscapes.
Small group size.
Every effort will be made to land and photograph as many Polar Bears as possible; however, it is important to remember that these are wild animals and that they are free to roam when and how they please.
On this expedition we will also likely photograph walrus, seals, whales, Arctic foxes and the many Arctic sea birds - including the rare and angelic Ivory Gull.
The weather in the Arctic can be fickle. We reserve the right to make last minute changes to the itinerary to both avoid bad weather and too take advantage of good weather and light as the elements permit.
The meals onboard shall consist of breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and coffee and two course dinner (three course dinner the last evening). Coffee and tea will be available 24 hours a day. The mealtimes shall be held at regular times, but the catering crew has been informed that photography has priority on this expedition and flexibility is necessary. If you have special dietary requirement you will be accommodated - please just be sure to let us know when you make your booking.
Our ship (M/S Origo) will depart from Longyearbyen at 4:00pm on the 25th of July, 2017. The ship will return back to Longyearbyen around midnight on the 4th of August, 2017. We will eat breakfast aboard the ship before we disembark at 9:00am on the 4th of August. Please be sure to arrive at the ship at least one hour before departure! We strongly recommend you arrive to Longyearbyen at least one day before the ship departs on the 25th of August, in case of lost luggage or delayed flights. There are a number of nice hotels in Longyearbyen and day tours can be taken out of town with local operators, such as Spitsbergen Travel.
M/S Origo is a traditional ship. She was built 1955 at Finnboda shipyard in Sweden for the Swedish Maritime administration as an ice-strengthening pilot ship. She was on duty for the Administration until 1983, when she was sold and chartered out as a school ship. This is still her employment during the winter season. Many young sailors received their maritime education on the M/S Origo throughout the years.