If Norway is an escape from the daily grind, Svalbard – 1300 km (810 miles) from the North Pole – is an escape from the escape. One of Earth's last great wildernesses, Svalbard takes the Norwegian experience to a whole new level. Remote enough to house the world's biggest seed bank, yet refined enough to boast one of the world's most extensive wine cellars, the island is an exotic place of polar bears and snowmobiles, invigorating cold and no trees. Our summer Svalbard adventure takes in the best of its wonders: landscapes and wildlife; surprisingly diverse dishes to eat (and the northernmost beer brewed); insights into the Arctic permaculture and food-growing in sub-zero conditions. Take a boat into its stunning fjords and conquer glaciers with your new ice-climbing skills. Who knows, you might just spot a polar bear...
Dates: 1 June - 30 September. Duration: 7 days. NOTE: Glacier hike possible from 1 July.
Price per person: NOK 29 990 (approx. € 3140 / $ 3 920). Based on two people sharing one room, with arrival day on a Thursday
Includes: Room breakfast accommodation day 1 and 4. Full board accommodation day 2 and 3, beer tasting at Svalbard Brewery, instructional tour on Arctic permaculture, guided boat and glacier hike excursion according to program, transport to and from accommodation, airport express bus, a Co2 investment of NOK 250 & Up Norway services and digital travel guide.
NOTE: Drinks are not included with meals. *Up Norway will help you arrange domestic flights if requested.
DAY 1: Arrival on Svalbard
Arrive at Basecamp Hotel in Longyearbyen, a hotel with real character in the heart of the world's northernmost town. Get a feel for Arctic life among authentic trapper-style hotel décor, with seal skins, vintage maps and walls festooned with driftwood. In the evening, enjoy a guided tour of the unbelievable Svalbard brewery and taste the world’s nordthernmost brewed beer, brewed with meltwater from the 2000 year old Boger Glacier.
DAY 2: scouting the area
Your guide meets you at the hotel for an early start. Philip Pullman may have set his 'Dark Materials' books here, but you won't need a golden compass. With necessary supplies packed, you'll set out from the harbour in an open boat, speeding over Isfjorden to Billefjorden and Adolfbukta – incredibly beautiful fjords. There's a strong chance of seeing birds, walruses, belugas and maybe even the legendary polar bears! Check in at Nordenskiøld Lodge while enjoying an outdoor picnic. Explore the Arctic landscape all day before ending the evening with a lovely dinner.
DAY 3: Conquer the glaciers
Get to know your equipment and tips for safety on the glacier. You will spend the rest of the day on Nordenskiøld glacier. Learn to master the art of ice climbing while crossing some of its deep crevasses. Lunch with a view over spectacular Billefjorden. Learn more about the blue ice covering more than half of Spitsbergen. A warm dinner followed by cold drinks is your reward in the evening.
Day 4: the abandoned pyramid
Enjoy breakfast before one last hike. Now's your chance to take photos of the Arctic wildlife and sparkling blue glacier. A last lunch before traveling to Pyramiden, a former Russian mining establishment that's become a ghost town. Uninhabited since 1999, this eerie but picturesque settlement at the end of the world was abandoned just as it was. Return to Longyearbyen by boat and stay the night at Basecamp Hotel again.
DAY 5: Polar permaculture and arctic fjord cruise
Start the day with an amazing lesson in Polar permaculture! Here, close to the North Pole, produce is cultivated and delivered to restaurants and hotels, while at the same time collecting food waste for compost. After an induction into these marvellous sustainable methods (and maybe taking on a few farm tasks yourself!), you'll return to the hotel. At 17.00 a guide will collect you and help you board the Polar Circle boat to begin your voyage towards Isfjord, and a hotel out of the ordinary. The gorgeous fjord scenery and gliding Arctic birds will take your breath away, before you arrive at Kapp Linne and are met by a three course dinner.
Day 6: the attenborough moment
After a delicious breakfast, step on board for an exciting cruise on the west side of the fjord. Cross Isfjorden at Kapp Starostin and head straight to the mighty cliffs of Alkehornet, teeming with thousands of nesting birds. After disembarking at Trygghammna, the expedition will have lunch on the beautiful beach. On to the Esmark Glacier in Ymerbukta – if you are lucky you might catch sight of whales, seals or even polar bears. Enjoy a three course dinner in the evening and unwind in a warm sauna.
DAY 7: The west and Surprises
Get ready for more adventure right after breakfast. Today the ship sets course for Grønfjorden and the Russian settlement of Barentsburg, a mining town with 350 residents. Go ashore for a tour and lunch in the brewery. The return trip is full of small stop-offs affording delightful surprises, depending on where the boat and the Arctic wilds take you. Arrive back in Longyearbyen and stay over at Basecamp Hotel. End your journey with a fabulous four course dinner in relaxing Gruvelageret. You made it!