The Svalbard Archipelago is located halfway between North Cape, at the northern tip of mainland Norway, and the North Pole. The archipelago is made up of 7 islands and we run our polar expeditions
from the main island, Spitsbergen. The settlements of Spitsbergen are the most northerly, permanently inhabited settlements on the planet. The total population is less than 2,700, so people are significantly out-numbered by polar bears! Despite its rugged, isolated terrain, carved out by glaciers over millions of years, Svalbard has a history of exploration - from the whalers and trappers of the 17th and 18th centuries to the mining corporations and researchers of the 20th century and the more recent tourists and adventure seekers. With such a rich history, stunning scenery and a diverse range of wildlife, there is plenty to be discovered here, high in the Arctic Circle on your Svalbard expedition
How to get to Svalbard
To reach Longyearbyen, there are direct flights from Oslo (3 hr journey) provided by SAS and Norwegian Airlines. Although they are direct, the flight will land in Tromso on Norway's west coast and you will be asked to disembark to go through the Svalbard immigration before re-embarking on the plane once more and continuing your journey. This means that you will be flying at a low altitude when passing over the jaw dropping Lofoten islands. If you wish to get a birds eye view of these out of the plane window then make sure to be seated on the left hand side of the plane for both the outgoing and return flight. Direct flights do not operate every day of the week so you may also need to spend a night in Oslo before continuing your journey the next day.
To reach Oslo from the UK, there are direct flights with British Airways from Heathrow and Norwegian Airlines have direct flights from Gatwick and Edinburgh. SAS have direct flights from Manchester.
If you are travelling from the US, SAS operate direct flights to Oslo from New York. From the west coast there are good flight options with Air France, KLM and Lufthansa.
If you are changing airlines or re-checking your luggage at an airport on route, please ensure you leave a minimum of 3 hours between flights. This will account for any delays on arrival, travel time across airports (this can take longer than you think) and time taken to re-check baggage.
Our Svalbard adventures
SVEA GLACIER | Immerse yourself in the remote isolation of the Svalbard wilderness; the silence broken only by the far off thundercracks of calving glacial ice. Spend a week amidst floating icebergs, setting up camp on the shores of the Svea Glacier, a land dominated by its four legged inhabitants; arctic fox, reindeer and elusive polar bears.
THE FIVE GLACIERS | Ymerbukta, Nansen, Bore, Wahlenberg and Svéa. Five remarkably different glaciers in one epic adventure. This journey of discovery is a chance to explore a selection of Svalbard’s finest fjords, glaciers and tundra. Designed to be a challenging expedition style trip that rewards those brave enough to take it on with an incredible immersion in the unique Arctic environment.
VON POST GLACIER | Join us on a real winter adventure as, accompanied by sled dogs, we venture into the heart of the untouched arctic world. Explore the stunning area of Tempelfjorden by ski/snowshoe and discover the thrills of the back-to -basics lifestyle where everything you need is in your pulk. This trip can be done on snowshoes or skis; it is possible to switch between the two during the trip depending on the conditions.
EAST COAST EXPEDITION | This extraordinary expedition enables total immersion in the most beautiful winter landscapes of Spitsbergen. Travel through remote areas where few people have ever ventured and journey through glacial valleys where reindeer shelter to the ice floes of the east coast where polar bears meet in the spring. This magnificent crossing of Spitsbergen connects Sassendalen to the east coast in the spirit of the great polar expeditions. A completely autonomous 12 day expedition, Nordic skiing with pulks.
TEXAS BAR |
A truly remarkable expedition in the lands north of Spitsbergen. A place where few humans venture, an arctic paradise where polar bears reign and silence dominates, a land of icebergs, glaciers and rocky outcrops. This the most northern sea kayaking destination in the world and the perfect place for complete escapism.
When to visit
You can find detailed advice on when to trek in our Svalbard Travel Guide.
This a brief summary. Svalbard is such a remote and harsh environment during the winter that even most of the locals up sticks and go to somewhere warmer from November to January. The spring brings warmer temperatures (although still between -15°C and -10°C!) which are ideal for skiing expeditions as the snow pack stays firm but the sun begins to show its face. June to August, the midnight sun is in full swing and night time doesn't exist. The weather is generally more settled with temperatures between 1°C and 14°C making this perfect kayaking conditions.
Training for your trip
Unlike most of our other destinations, Svalbard training will require more of a full body approach. For kayaking trips, it will be your arms and core that feel it most, whereas skiing whilst pulling a pulk is a full body workout!
Training for ski pulking
You must know how to ski to participate in one of our skiing expeditions. Proper control, good stamina and ease getting on and off your skis are required. We use cross country skis for our expeditions, so if you are wanting to get in some practice prior to your trip it is worth going out on a similar style of ski. Those who have used them before will know, they are quite a different experience to being on downhill skis. Getting out in the snow over winter in your local mountains will be a good recce, however if snow around where you live is few and far between we have comprised a Ski Guide below with suggestions and advice on how to prepare for your ski trip elsewhere.
Training for your kayak
Kayaking for multiple days in a row is not something most of us do regularly, so it is really important to train the muscles in your arms and core in particular, to withstand your week long kayaking trip. If you already own a kayak then getting out in it once or twice a week, whether this be on the sea, rivers or lakes, will help to build these muscles. If you are a bit newer to kayaking or don't have access to a kayak at home then our training guide below offers key advice in exercises that will help to build the strength and stability necessary for you to have an enjoyable trip.
This is the real deal and the weather in Svalbard can be really nasty, so it is essential you have the correct equipment! For your head, you will need something that provides good sun protection and also a really warm beanie or even balaclava for when the wind picks up. Think about clothing layers, wind is a notorious factor in Svalbard and can turn a relatively warm day to a freezing one very quickly. We provide the very best equipment to help you to stay warm. Our camping, polar and kayaking gear is high quality and made to withstand the worst Arctic weather. However, we find the best way to manage your temperature is with layering your clothing. Other critical equipment includes, drybags (for kayaking), a head torch, a comfortable day pack and lots and lots of high factor sunscreen.
Accommodation and food in Svalbard
LONGYEARBYEN: Warm, comfortable, guesthouse accommodation in twin rooms. Shared bathroom and kitchen facilities with heating and hot water. Although these aren't en-suite, there are plenty of bathrooms available per floor of the accommodation and these are modern facilities kept to an extremely high cleanliness. There is also a bar and restaurant serving simple dishes available on premises and it is roughly a 10 minute walk into the town.
CAMPING: We provide a 3 man dome tent per 2 people, an insulated sleeping mat and a synthetic sleeping bag. For our expeditions we use light equipment which is appropriate for Svalbard’s winter conditions. We will also provide a spacious mess tent for meal times, fully equipped with kitchen equipment. Please be aware that our expeditions in Svalbard involve full participation, we expect all travellers to assist with setting up and packing down our camps, preparing meals etc. This is a team effort!
In Longyearbyen your accommodation will have flushing toilets. Whilst camping the toilet situation will be a little less luxurious. It is a case of finding somewhere hidden, away from camp or the path and digging a hole. You will be provided with a flare gun whilst away from camp to protect you from polar bears. We can guarantee it will be the most scenic, exciting toilet break you've ever had! Please remember to bring toilet roll and a lighter to burn it after use.
The currency in Svalbard is the Norwegian Krona (NOK). For the latest exchange rates please visit www.xe.com
Please be aware that Svalbard is nearly cash free due to the absence of banks. Payments are made with credit or debit cards so it is important you take a card with you for any incidental purchases. Please inform your card provider that you intend to travel to Svalbard (Norway) before departure, this will ensure that your card continues to work properly while overseas. A lunch in Longyearbyen will cost you roughly £20 (265 NOK) and dinner will be £30 (350 NOK). Therefore, our recommended guidance for spending budget in the Svalbard would be roughly £100-150 (1300-2000 NOK) on top of any tips, to give you ample souvenir spending money.
Tipping customs vary all over the world and can be very confusing when travelling to a new country. Tipping in Svalbard is always appreciated, however it is not obligatory and should be left to the discretion of each individual. If you are satisfied with your guide’s services we recommend a tip between 350-450 NOK per person (equivalent to £30-40 per person). On the other hand, if you receive bad service or have not been treated well, you would not be expected to tip at all.