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    Svalbard Arctic Paradise

    Svalbard Arctic Paradise

    Orsi polari, Trichechi, Volpi artiche, Balene e Beluga

    • Periodo Ottimale: 18-28 Luglio 2020; 23-31 Agosto 2020
    • Giorni: 9–11 (12-14 con l' estensione a Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella NP)
    • Zona di interesse: Svalbard
    • Costo: € 4850 (Luglio), € 3950 (Agosto)
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    Wildlife viewing trip dedicated to the exploration of the unique Arctic wildlife and the rugged and utterly unspoiled environment; archipelago circumnavigation and Zodiac cruises and hiking excursions under the expert guidance of a Biosfera Itinerari team Biologist.

    • Polar Bear watching in its natural habitat.
    • Towards the Geographic North Pole.
    • The northernmost inhabited archipelago on Earth.
    • Walruses, Bearded Seals and Belugas. 19 marine mammals species.
    • Arctic mammals perfectly adapted to life in the cold: the Arctic Fox and the Svalbard Reindeer.
    • Sperm Whales, Humpback Whales and the stunning and very rare Bowhead Whale, heavily depleted by pre-modern commercial whaling of the 19th century.
    • The spectacular Arctic avifauna: 30 species of birds that go to extremes.
    • Optional: land trip in search of the Muskox, the giant holdover from the Pleistocene occurred together with Mammoths

    ClimateBiogeographic ProvinceBiodiversity

    Svalbard has an Arctic climate tempered by the warm North Atlantic Current, resulting in cold interior fjord areas and valleys, where distance from the sea and altitude favour lower temperatures, and typical tundra climate on the coastal areas, with winter temperatures below −40°C and milder summer months with average temperatures ranging from 5 to 6°C.

    Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago covering an area of 62050 km² in the Arctic Ocean, with islands ranging from 74° to 81° north latitude, and from 10° to 35° east longitude. The largest island is Spitsbergen (39000 km²), followed by Nordaustlandet (14600 km²) and Edgeøya (5000 km²). As much as 60% of the landmass is covered in ice (the name Svalbard stands for “cold coast”), but the surrounding waters are relatively mild and navigable most of the year as a consequence of the influence of the North Atlantic Current. Today, coal mining, fishing and hunting are the most important economical activities. As an effect of an average annual temperature below 0°, Svalbard is covered by permafrost subjected to superficially thawing during the summer. Therefore, a continuous herbaceous vegetation cover can be supported only in summer and in the lowlands or in the large, ice–free valleys, and is subjected to a very short growing season.

    Svalbard has arctic climate conditions, and, even if it is not comparable with that temperate ecoregions on the planet, it supports a wide variety of wildlife, especially birds, and it is of paramount importance for wildlife biodiversity. The short summer is prime season for spotting wildlife, while iconic species accustomed to accumulate large fat deposits and live in conditions of paucity of resources, such as the Svalbard Reindeer, the Polar Bear, the Arctic Fox and the Svalbard Rock Ptarmigan, can be easily encountered throughout winter. Permafrost and the reduced grassland covering represent a serious obstacle to the survival of land herbivores and rodent populations, except the Svalbard Reindeer, while Polar bears, seals and seabirds are dependent on algal blooms under Arctic ice sea. The Svalbard is home to more than 19 species of marine mammals, featuring Polar bears, Walruses, 5 species of Seals and 12 species of Whales and Dolphins. Among these, Walruses, Narwhals, Belugas and Bowhead Whales are resident and can be see at any time of the year, while other species have natural migration patterns and are commonly spotted in summer. Svalbard is a breeding ground for about 30 species of birds, with millions of them trekking the archipelago in summer. The land with productive vegetation is restricted to small areas, and 10% of the total land has biological productivity of any importance. The majority of the 165 vascular plant species that have been recorded have to cope with severe climate constraints and have to rely on guano for their persistence.

     

    Detailed Program

     AUGUST ITINERARY (23-31 AUGUST 2020)

        • Day 1: Flight to Oslo (or Longyearbyen if available) and overnight stay at hotel.
        • Day 2: Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy strolling around this former mining town, whose parish church and Svalbard Museum make for fascinating attractions. Though the countryside appears stark, more than a hundred species of plant have been recorded in it. Embark this afternoon and in the early evening the ship sails out of Isfjorden, where you might spot the first minke whale of your voyage.
        • Day 3: Heading north along the west coast, you arrive by morning in Krossfjorden. Here you might board the Zodiacs for a cruise near the towering blue-white face of the Fourteenth of July Glacier. On the green slopes near the glacier, colorful flowers bloom while flocks of kittiwakes and Brünnich’s guillemots nest on the cliffs. You have a good chance of spotting an Arctic fox scouting for fallen chicks, or a bearded seal paddling through the fjord. In the afternoon you sail to Ny Ålesund, the northernmost settlement on Earth. Once a mining village served by the world’s most northerly railway – you can still see its tracks – Ny Ålesund is now a research center. Close to the community is a breeding ground for barnacle geese, pink-footed geese, and Arctic terns. And if you’re interested in the history of Arctic exploration, visit the anchoring mast used by polar explorers Amundsen and Nobile in their airships, Norge (1926) and Italia (1928).
        • Day 4: Depending on the weather we may now sail to the mouth of Liefdefjorden and go ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andøya. Many Common Eider and Pink-footed Goose nest here, and the rarer King Eider may also be seen. We hope to sail into Liefdefjorden, cruising near the 5km long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier face are a favourite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwake and on previous voyages Polar Bear have been seen on the glacier, providing wonderful opportunities for photography.
        • Day 5: Today we will sail into Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seal, Ringed Seal, Polar Bear, and Ivory Gull. We’ll navigate the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvøya in our zodiacs and explore the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet with thousands of Brünnich’s Guillemot. On the east side of Hinlopenstrait, we’ll attempt a landing at Palanderbukta on Nordaustlandet, home to reindeer, Pink-footed Goose, breeding Ivory Gull, and Walrus.
        • Day 6: Today we will reach the northernmost islands of Svalbard: the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. We will attempt to land on Phippsøya which often have walrus hauled out on land. We will then try to find the pack ice to take in the spectacular surroundings and search for wildlife such as Polar bear and perhaps even the illusive Ross gull. We will reach the area of 81 degrees north – just 540 km from the geographic North Pole.
        • Day 7: Retracing our route westwards, we visit Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seal. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. On the offshore island of Ytre Norskøya, we visit a 17th century Dutch whaling site, whose large graveyard is a poignant reminder of the hardships and dangers of life here at that time. The island’s bird life is prolific, with colonies of Little Auk, Black Guillemot, Brünnich’s Guillemot, Puffins and Arctic Skua accessible to visitors.
        • Day 8: We land at the northern tip of Prins Karls Forland near Fuglehuken, where Barentsz probably set foot on Spitsbergen for the first time. Seabirds nest on the cliffs and along the coast we see Harbour Seal, the only population found in Spitsbergen. Further we also will observe the remains of the Polar Bear hunting era, with demolished set guns and bear traps. At the opposite site of Forlandsundet at Sarstangen is a haul out place for Walrus. Alternatively we sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden and land at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on its cliffs and Arctic Fox search the cliff base for fallen eggs and chicks, while Spitsbergen Reindeer graze the relatively luxuriant vegetation. The reindeer may seem unbothered by human presence, but this is not really the case. The animals must survive the harsh winter, when temperatures plummet and food is hard to find, so they preserve what energy they can, fleeing only when it is absolutely necessary. In the afternoon we cruise through beautiful Borebukta, following a glacier face before continuing to Longyearbyen.
        • Day 9: We disembark in Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Spitsbergen, for flights south to Oslo and onward home or overnight stay at Oslo (hotel).
        • FACULTATIVE TRIP EXTENSION TO Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park.
        • Day 10: Transfer to Dombas and the Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park. Overnight stay at cottage.
        • Day 11: Full day (5-6 hours) walking safari for the observation of the iconic free ranging Musk oxen and moose into the intact alpine ecosystem of the park. In the afternoon drive back to Oslo, Overnight stay at hotel.
        • Day 12: Flight back to Italy.

    JULY ITINERARY (18-28 JULY 2020)

          • Day 1: Flight to Oslo (or Longyearbyen if available) and overnight stay at hotel.
          • Day 2: Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting, while in the surrounding area of Longyearbyen, more than 100 species of plants have been recorded. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.
          • Day 3: Heading north along the west coast, we arrive by morning in Krossfjorden, where we board the Zodiacs for an exhilarating cruise along the sculpted face of the 14th of July Glacier. On the surprisingly fertile slopes near the glacier, a colourful variety of flowers bloom, while large numbers of Kittiwake and Brünnich’s Guillemot nest on the nearby cliffs. There is also a good chance of spotting opportunistic Arctic Fox, patrolling the base of the cliffs in case a hapless chick falls from its nest, and Bearded Seal, who cruise this scenic fjord. In the afternoon we sail to Ny Ålesund, the world’s most northerly settlement. Once a mining village – served by the world’s most northerly railway, which can still be seen – Ny Ålesund is now a research centre. Close to the village is a breeding ground for Barnacle Goose, Pink-footed Goose and Arctic Tern. Visitors interested in the history of Arctic exploration will want to walk to the anchoring mast used by Amundsen and Nobile, in the airship Norge in 1926 and Nobile in the airship Italia in 1928, before their flights to the North Pole.
          • Day 4: Depending on the weather we may now sail to the mouth of Liefdefjorden and go ashore for a walk on the tundra island of Andøya. Many Common Eider and Pink-footed Goose nest here, and the rarer King Eider may also be seen. We hope to sail into Liefdefjorden, cruising near the 5km long face of the impressive Monaco Glacier. The waters of the glacier face are a favourite feeding spot for thousands of Kittiwake and on previous voyages Polar Bear have been seen on the glacier, providing wonderful opportunities for photography.
          • Day 5: Today we will reach the northernmost islands of Svalbard: the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. We will attempt to land on Phippsøya which often have walrus hauled out on land. We will then try to find the pack ice to take in the spectacular surroundings and search for wildlife such as Polar bear and perhaps even the illusive Ross gull. We will reach the area of 81 degrees north – just 540 km from the geographic North Pole.
          • Day 6: Searching for walruses at Sorg Fjord, where whale hunters of XVII century are buried. Hiking for birdwatching, thena heading to Hinoplen Strait to Kinnvika on Nordaustlandet Island, to explore the polar desert.
          • Day 7: We will cross the Strait of Hinlopen (observation of bearded seals, ringed seals, polar bears etc) and we will make an excursion among the ice sheets near Lomfjordshalvøya with the zodiacs. We will try the landing at Augustabukta for the observation of the Svalbard reindeer, walruses and arctic birds. Hike to Torellneset, in a landscape shaped by ice
          • Day 8:
          • Today we will reach the northernmost islands of Svalbard: the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet. We will attempt to land on Phippsøya which often have walrus hauled out on land. We will then try to find the pack ice to take in the spectacular surroundings and search for wildlife such as Polar bear and perhaps even the illusive Ross gull. We will reach the area of 81 degrees north – just 540 km from the geographic North Pole.
          • Day 7: Retracing our route westwards, we visit Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seal. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots. On the offshore island of Ytre Norskøya, we visit a 17th century Dutch whaling site, whose large graveyard is a poignant reminder of the hardships and dangers of life here at that time. The island’s bird life is prolific, with colonies of Little Auk, Black Guillemot, Brünnich’s Guillemot, Puffins and Arctic Skua accessible to visitors.
          • Day 8: Landing in Sundneset on the island of Barentsøya and excursion in the tundra in search of Svalbard Reindeer and different species of birds. Following navigation to Diskobukta on the island of Edgeøya. Excursion in zodiac along the bay, after which we will disembark on the beach dotted with whale bones and tree trunks transported from the sea to Siberia. Possibility to observe Polar bear and Arctic fox
          • Day 9: Navigation in the Hornsund area, characterized by spectacular mountain peaks and 14 active glaciers. Excellent chances to observe polar bears and different species of seals.
          • Day 10: Landing at Ahlstrandhalvøya. In the area there are excellent chances of observation of the Beluga. In the afternoon, exploration of a tundra area (Svalbard reindeer, arctic birds).
          • Day 11: Return to Longyearbyen and disembark. Transfer to the airport and international flight back to Italy or overnight stay in a hotel in Oslo if necessary (not included in the cost).
          • FACULTATIVE TRIP EXTENSION TO Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park.
          • Day 12: Transfer to Dombas and the Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park. Overnight stay at cottage.
          • Day 13: Full day (5-6 hours) walking safari for the observation of the iconic free ranging Musk oxen and moose into the intact alpine ecosystem of the park. In the afternoon drive back to Oslo, Overnight stay at hotel.
          • Day 14: Flight back to Italy.


    The trip will be led and accompanied by one Biosfera Itinerari expert biologist guide who will be responsible of logistics, activities and tour guidance.

    N.B., about accommodation: during the cruise we will stay on a research vessel, specially equipped to deal with arctic seas. The vessel has all private facility cabins, two well–stocked restaurants, spacious observation desks, a large conference lounge for wildlife lectures etc. For this itinerary we will choose the 4–bedrooms accommodation: there is also the possibility of double or single rooms, but the overall trip cost will highly increased. The ship is large but takes few passengers, offering the best wildlife experience and a great focus on the destination. When in Oslo, we will stay in a high standard hotel.
    The price includes:
        • Svalbard cruising as in the Detailed Itinerary and Program, based on 4–bedrooms accommodation
        • Ship’s accommodation with full board on board (including snacks, tea, coffee)
        • Naturalistic lectures and guide services by an expert biology from Italy
        • All shore excursions from the ship including Zodiacs
        • A comprehensive travel insurance package
        • Night in Longyearbyen
        • Port taxes and port charges imposed by government authorities
        • All land transfers
    Not included:
        • Cost of Procedure Management (30 euro)
        • International flight to Longyearbyen and airport taxes
        • Cancelling and travel insurance
        • Accommodation on last night in Oslo (around 130 euro)
        • All meals not mentioned
        • Voluntary activities and service tips, and in general everything not mentioned in section “The price includes”
    Price
    € 4850 (on July),€ 3950 (on August)  based for 6 pax. The travel package price can vary in case of change of the currency exchange rate. Optional trip extension to Dovrefjell National Park: € 390.

    Disclaimer 1: Please note this is an indicative and standard itinerary. Dates, activities and the succession and length of each part of the itinerary may change each year, and can be rearranged with the participants. Upon request by the participants, we will send the definitive and detailed programme to be evaluated at least some weeks prior to the confirmation deadline.

    Disclaimer 2: We will generally honor the posted prices, but these are subject to change at any time due to action or decisions made by local authorities. In such situations, and in the hope that will not happen, we will send all the ministries official communications to all participants, free from ambiguity and in total transparency. We reserve the right to correct the final price to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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