The Arctic

Epic by name, astounding by nature, the Arctic Circle is both figuratively – and literally – about as far off the map as destinations come. A pristine natural Eden of mighty mountain peaks, awesome glacial structures and pretty much every shade of blue known to man, this winter wonderland is often almost too beautiful to be true. Polar bears, whales, reindeers and walruses dot the ice-strewn land and seascapes, while wildflowers bloom on the inland plains, and, come the seasonal equinoxes, Aurora Borealis throws up its dazzling display of lights. Enchanting, stark and utterly removed from human civilisation, the Arctic really is ‘poles apart’ from the typical travel experience.

Arctic tours & travel

All our Arctic trips

Iceland Circumnavigation (Ocean Nova) 2015

12 days from
USD $6,995
CAD $8,610
AUD $8,445
EUR €6,085
GBP £4,245
NZD $9,405
ZAR R84,535
CHF FR7,035

Cruise the coast of Iceland and discover its wild scenery, delightful villages and quirky culture. Visit the Blue...

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Baffin Island Explorer with Greenland (Sea Explorer) 2015

13 days from
USD $9,820
CAD $12,105
AUD $11,870
EUR €7,170
GBP £5,950
NZD $13,220
ZAR R118,815
CHF FR9,885

Breathe in the crisp air and immerse yourself in the best of the Canadian Arctic, from the historic Beechey Island to...

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Spitsbergen, East Greenland & Iceland (Ocean Nova) 2015

14 days from
USD $8,295
CAD $10,225
AUD $10,025
EUR €7,215
GBP £5,025
NZD $11,165
ZAR R100,350
CHF FR8,350

Discover the wild beauty of the Arctic in Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland. Be charmed by polar bears, cruise...

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Greenland Valleys and Fjords (Sea Adventurer) 2015

15 days from
USD $8,445
CAD $10,410
AUD $10,210
EUR €7,350
GBP £5,120
NZD $11,370
ZAR R102,200
CHF FR8,505

Encounter the dramatic scenery, breathtaking fjords, fascinating culture and icy landscapes of Greenland, starting in...

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Spitsbergen in Depth 2016

13 days from
USD $7,295
CAD $10,095
AUD $9,900
EUR €6,500
GBP £5,000
NZD $11,025
ZAR R99,095
CHF FR8,245

Soak up the essence of the Arctic on a voyage around Spitsbergen. Discover wild beaches and towering glaciers, and...

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Spitsbergen Explorer (Ocean Nova) 2016

11 days from
USD $6,495
CAD $8,975
AUD $8,800
EUR €5,800
GBP £4,400
NZD $9,800
ZAR R88,085
CHF FR7,330

Discover the essence of the Arctic on a trip around Spitsbergen, where polar bears, glaciers, fjords and Inuit...

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Scotland to Spitsbergen (Ocean Nova) 2016

15 days from
USD $8,295
CAD $11,420
AUD $11,200
EUR €7,400
GBP £5,600
NZD $12,475
ZAR R112,110
CHF FR9,330

Travel the ancient Norse route from Scotland to Spitsbergen via the west coast of Norway. Embrace culture, wildlife...

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Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland (Sea Adventurer) 2015

13 days from
USD $6,995
CAD $8,620
AUD $8,455
EUR €6,085
GBP £4,245
NZD $9,415
ZAR R84,635
CHF FR7,045

Discover the wild beauty of the Arctic in Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland. Be charmed by polar bears, cruise...

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Spitsbergen, East Greenland & Iceland (Ocean Nova) 2016

14 days from
USD $8,695
CAD $12,035
AUD $11,800
EUR €7,800
GBP £5,900
NZD $13,140
ZAR R118,115
CHF FR9,830

Discover the wild beauty of the Arctic in Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland. Be charmed by polar bears, cruise...

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Tromso, Bear Island and Spitsbergen (Sea Adventurer) 2016

12 days from
USD $6,995
CAD $9,690
AUD $9,500
EUR €6,300
GBP £4,800
NZD $10,580
ZAR R95,095
CHF FR7,915

Set sail from Norway and discover the history, landscapes, icebergs and wildlife of Spitsbergen. Travel along fjords,...

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Arctic Express: Greenland's Northern Lights - Fly North, Cruise South (Ocean Nova) 2016

13 days from
USD $7,995
CAD $11,015
AUD $10,800
EUR €7,200
GBP £5,400
NZD $12,025
ZAR R108,105
CHF FR8,995

Fly one way over the Denmark Strait to Greenland then cruise back on this Arctic adventure that reveals this remote...

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Arctic Express: Greenland's Northern Lights - Cruise North, Fly South (Ocean Nova) 2016

13 days from
USD $7,995
CAD $11,015
AUD $10,800
EUR €7,200
GBP £5,400
NZD $12,025
ZAR R108,105
CHF FR8,995

Head out on an Arctic adventure of a lifetime in Greenland, departing from Reykjavik. Cruise spectacular fjords,...

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Arctic Express: Greenland's Northern Lights - Fly North, Fly South (Ocean Nova) 2016

10 days from
USD $5,995
CAD $8,260
AUD $8,100
EUR €5,400
GBP £4,100
NZD $9,020
ZAR R81,080
CHF FR6,745

Fly from Iceland to Greenland and encounter breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, gigantic icebergs, traditional Inuit...

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Greenland to Canada (Sea Adventurer) 2016

13 days from
USD $8,445
CAD $11,625
AUD $11,400
EUR €7,500
GBP £5,700
NZD $12,695
ZAR R114,110
CHF FR9,495

The beauty of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic are on full display on this two-week adventure that takes in icebergs...

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Northwest Passage - Westbound (Sea Adventurer) 2016

20 days from
USD $13,945
CAD $19,170
AUD $18,800
EUR €12,500
GBP £9,500
NZD $20,935
ZAR R188,185
CHF FR15,660

Get a dose of Arctic culture and see how people have survived these beautiful ice-strewn landscapes on this polar...

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Northwest Passage Eastbound via Fury and Hecla (Sea Adventurer) 2016

20 days from
USD $13,945
CAD $19,170
AUD $18,800
EUR €12,500
GBP £9,500
NZD $20,935
ZAR R188,185
CHF FR15,660

Combine wildlife, unparalleled scenery and visits to remote communities on this journey through the Arctic’s famed...

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Northwest Passage - Westbound (Sea Adventurer) 2015

20 days from
USD $13,945
CAD $17,180
AUD $16,850
EUR €12,130
GBP £8,460
NZD $18,770
ZAR R168,665
CHF FR14,035

Get a dose of Arctic culture and see how people have survived these beautiful ice-strewn landscapes on this polar...

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Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land (Sea Adventurer) 2016

13 days from
USD $7,495
CAD $10,300
AUD $10,100
EUR €6,700
GBP £5,100
NZD $11,250
ZAR R101,100
CHF FR8,415

Set sail from Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen to Franz Josef Land, discovered just 150 years ago in far north Russia. Visit...

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North Pole ( 50 Years of Victory ) 2016

14 days from
USD $26,995
CAD $39,670
AUD $38,900
EUR €26,765
GBP £18,400
NZD $43,320
ZAR R389,380
CHF FR32,405

Take the ultimate expedition and voyage to the North Pole. Stand on top of the world at 90° north and feel the rush...

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Greenland's Far North (Sea Explorer) 2015

16 days from
USD $10,820
CAD $13,340
AUD $13,080
EUR €9,410
GBP £6,560
NZD $14,565
ZAR R130,925
CHF FR10,895

This Arctic adventure not only features strongly on seeing wildlife, but also introduces you to the landscapes,...

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Greenland & Canada's High Arctic (Sea Explorer) 2015

13 days from
USD $9,820
CAD $12,105
AUD $11,870
EUR €8,540
GBP £5,950
NZD $13,220
ZAR R118,815
CHF FR9,885

Get up close and personal with the wildlife, landscapes and local communities of the Arctic, from Greenland to the...

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Arctic Watch Lodge: Adventure and Wildlife at 74°N

10 days from
USD $10,685
CAD $14,770
AUD $14,485
EUR €9,615
GBP £7,245
NZD $16,130
ZAR R144,990
CHF FR12,065

Spend eight spectacular days exploring Somerset Island’s Cunningham River area. Search for beluga whales, learn about...

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North Pole Express: Barneo Ice Camp

5 days from

Travel on this intimate journey from Longyearbyen to the remote Barneo Ice Camp, constructed each year in the North...

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Articles on the Arctic region

Ask The Experts: The Planet D’s guide to Polar travel (Q&A)

Posted on Thu, 26 Mar 2015

Deb and Dave, collectively known as The Planet D, are kind of a big deal in the travel blogging circuit. They’ve been to over 100 countries on all seven continents […]

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Raising our voices for the Arctic

Posted on Thu, 5 Jun 2014

There is never a better day, than today, to speak out and take action to protect our precious planet. For World Environment Day 2014, the theme is ‘Raise your voice […]

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Arctic night in London with Steve Davey

Posted on Thu, 6 Mar 2014

Join renowned travel photographer and author Steve Davey for an exclusive talk on Photographing in Arctic and other extreme conditions. See beautiful examples of Steve’s work while he discusses the […]

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What you probably don’t know about Svalbard

Posted on Fri, 28 Feb 2014

The Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard is a fantastic location for seeking out wildlife, but there’s more than that to discover in this intriguing land. You have a more than […]

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About The Arctic 

Best time to Visit 

Due to the North Atlantic Stream, the climate in Norway is noticeably warmer than what might otherwise be expected. During the summer season, temperatures hover between 4C and 6C, which is a good 20C higher than what one would typically encounter at similar latitudes in Canada or Russia. Mid-May to mid-August is the best time to go, while October through to April are the coldest and rainiest months. The Northern Lights are visible from parts of Norway, with September to April usually presenting the optimal conditions for viewing.

Geography and Envrionment 

The Svalbard region of the Arctic is a sparse and rugged landscape of craggy mountain peaks and gorges. Much of the land is covered under snow and ice year-round. The only kind of vegetation on the island is a brownish green moss that sprouts up in patches across the mountainsides, as well as some quite beautiful Arctic flowers that bloom during the year’s warmest months.

Top Picks

 
Top 5 Arctic Wildlife to Spot
1. Polar Bear
The iconic symbol of Svalbard, the polar bear is not only the largest bear going around, it’s the world’s largest land carnivore. Some 500 polar bears are thought to inhabit the island at any one time. But don’t limit your spotting skills to land. As exceptionally good swimmers, polar bears spend more time at sea than on land, and have even been spotted paddling about in open seas 300 km from shore.

2. Arctic Fox
Spotting these fleet-footed puppies is thankfully easier during the summer months, when its snow-white fur turns to a dusty grey. Often living in a complex network of burrows, housing multiple generations, they have remarkable hearing that enables them to detect and dig through to prey scurrying about under the snow.

3. Sperm Whale
Despite having been hunted almost to extinction during the 18th and 19th centuries, these days sperm whales can often be spotted trawling the archipelago’s waters for their diet of fish and squid. The largest toothed whale in the world, it can grow to 18 metres in length, and possesses the largest brain in the mammalian kingdom. Because females and their young usually travel in pods of up to 20 whales, if you see one of them, you’re likely to see a lot of them.

4. Walrus
True blubber-boys of the animal kingdom, the Arctic’s walruses can weigh up to 1,700 kg, thanks to a six-inch layer of insulating tissue. Often spotted lolling about on the icebergs and rocky shores, they’re conspicuous by their sizeable tusks, which they use - icepick style - to help haul their blubber butts out of the water and over land.

5. Svalbard Reindeer
With a population currently pegged at approximately 10,000, this is the smallest subspecies of reindeer. Despite their slight size, these animals are highly mobile, often travelling up to 5,000 km in one year - the greatest known distance of any land mammal.
 
 

FAQs on The Arctic 

Tipping is done on a voluntary basis in Norway and at the discretion of the customer. If the service in a cafe or restaurant is good, feel free to leave spare change or round up the bill.

Several public internet terminals exist in Longyearbyen, all with very good connections. Do not expect internet connectivity elsewhere.

There is good quality telephone coverage in Longyearbyen, though do not expect it elsewhere. Ensure you have global roaming activated before leaving home if you wish to use your mobile phone.

Western-style, flushable toilets are the standard around Svalbard, though at very remote outposts a pit toilet will likely be the go.

Beer = 50 NOK
A pizza = 80 NOK
Meal at a mid-range restaurant = 120 NOK

The tap water in Svalbard is considered safe to drink. Surface water should be boiled before consumption because it could possibly contain tapeworm eggs.

Credit cards are accepted in Longyearbyen, though don’t rely on them for small purchases.

There is one ATM in Longyearbyen’s post office. It's best to withdraw your money on the mainland, however, in case it's out of order.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-intrepid/our-services

Svalbard celebrates the same public holidays as the rest of Norway.


Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
 
From Australia?
 
From New Zealand?
 
From Canada?
 
From US?
 
From UK?
 
The World Health Organisation also provides useful health information: 
 

Responsible travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

The Arctic travel tips

 

Top responsible travel tips for The Arctic

1. Don’t use aircrafts, vessels, small boats or other means of transport in ways that disturb wildlife, either at sea or on land.

2. Don’t feed, touch, or handle birds or seals, and don’t approach or photograph them in ways that cause them to alter their behaviour. Special care is needed when animals are breeding or moulting.

3. Don’t damage plants – for example, by walking, driving, or landing on extensive moss beds or lichen-covered scree slopes.

4. Don’t take ‘souvenirs’ of rocks or flora off the island.

5. Don’t use guns or explosives. Keep noise to the minimum to avoid frightening wildlife.

6. Don’t bring non-native plants or animals into the Arctic, such as live poultry, pet dogs and cats, or house plants.

7. Know the location of areas that have been afforded special protection and observe any restrictions regarding entry and activities that can be carried out in and near those areas.

8. Don’t damage, remove, or destroy historic sites or monuments, or any artefacts associated with them.

9. Don’t interfere with scientific research facilities or equipment.

10. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

 

Further reading

Recommended reading

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule by Joanna Kavenna
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places by Bill Streever
The Solitude of Thomas Cave by Georgina Harding

 

Handy links

www.lonelyplanet.com/norway/svalbard
www.visitnorway.com/en/Where-to-go/North/Svalbard
svalbard.nordicvisitor.com/travel-guide/
www.travellerspoint.com/guide/Svalbard