Join Peter Cox and Daníel Bergmann on beautiful sailing vessel Antigua as we explore the magnificent mountains, glaciers and ice caps of Svalbard
|Instructors||Peter Cox, Daníel Bergmann|
|Accommodation||Berth on board S/V Antigua|
|Start Date||August 31st 2018|
|End Date||September 10th 2018|
Svalbard is one of the great wildernesses of the world, and there are few places better for experiencing Arctic wildlife. My co-leader Daniel Bergmann and I have extensive experience photographing this frozen landscape, and we are working with one of the most experienced expedition leaders in the Arctic today.
This is the Arctic summer. The animals are highly active and breeding. We will have 24 hours of daylight, which means that evening, morning and nighttime light are all very pleasing. The ice has melted back, although there can still be sea ice close at hand. The snow has melted from the land.
We will travel on board Antigua, wonderfully romantic brigantine - a three masted sailing ship. We will take only 21 passengers, and her low decks are ideal for excellent shooting angles. You'll love the experience of being on an authentic triple masted barque with an experienced deck crew and all the necessary modern navigational equipment ensure a safe and rewarding trip. We will be using high speed Zodiac boats for our daily excursions and landings with plenty of room for photographers and their gear.
I had a fantastic time. Sitting here less than a week later back at work it feels like some sort of vague dream already.
Peter is an excellent teacher as well as a talented landscape photographer. He has a gift for explaining camera and photographic techniques to people of all skill levels.
September is the month of the magic light. The first sunset after 4½ months occurred late in August, and now the nights are slowly getting longer. While there will be some dark hours every night, there will also be many hours every morning and evening of low golden sun, adding a hue to Svalbard which is missed during the entire summer. Winter is not here yet, but it is not far off – there is a good chance we will have snowfall on several days.
Throughout the summer, most of the mammals and all the birds have been going through their breeding cycles. In September, many of the migratory birds have departed, or they are flocking up to ready themselves for migration towards warmer climes. The Svalbard Reindeers are now as fat as ever, ready for the cold season, and the Arctic Foxes are changing into their winter fur.
Polar Bears are present year round in Svalbard. In September, the cubs of the year are about 9 months old, still with their mothers. Sometimes we meet young, newly independent bears almost three years old – they are often extra inquisitive. Where we see Polar Bears depends a lot on the sea ice. Some years, there is still a lot of sea ice in September, meaning that we find the bears there. Other times, the sea ice has melted back so far that many bears are stranded on shore for the summer. In such years, we can travel far to the east and northeast, and here we often see bears roaming the shores, or even riding small icebergs.
While Polar bears are of course a highlight of any trip to Svalbard, and we will certainly take advantage of any encounters - but this will be a trip focusing in large part on the landscape of Svalbard. The hunt for bears on ice at this time of year can result in several days at sea with no landscape opportunities, as the ice pack is often far to the north of the islands. If bears on ice is your main priority, this is not the trip for you! However, if you want to experience the dramatic landscape of Svalbard and take advantage of the low-angled sun, this is most certainly the trip to come on.
In September, the seas are still teeming with life. It is usually a good month to see whales. Fin, Minke, Humpback and Blue Whales are feeding hectically. It is also during this part of the season we sometimes see White-beaked Dolphins, and the Harp Seals are often found in large flocks too. Also the Walrus are around, often hauled out in large groups – the females with their pups usually separated from the males.
We shall be using the small, but strong ship to position ourselves daily for the best possible wildlife encounters, landscape photographic opportunities and landings. We will make many landings to photograph the autumn colours unfolding against the backdrop of the soaring mountains of Spitsbergen. We shall also be going out in the Zodiacs, to explore wildlife, glacier fronts and coastal scenery up close.
You will board the vessel at the quay in Longyearbyen on August 31st. Shortly thereafter, the ship will set sail, and the adventure begins. In the late evening of Sep 9th, the vessel returns to the same spot, and you will disembark the following morning. In the meantime, you will have a daily program designed to maximize the photographic opportunities that are available. No two expeditions are ever the same. No two sailing routes are the same. The weather always changes. The location of the ice is unpredictable. What we will insure is a unique and extraordinary experience for all participants with the expertise of the guides and the crew combined with everybody’s flexibility and expeditionary spirit.
Daníel and I have run many trips together, both in Svalbard and Iceland. We are there to ensure that you have an excellent photographic experience. Together with Morten, our highly experienced expedition leader, we will make best advantage of the weather and light to get you in the right place at the right time.
In particular, the southern parts of Spitsbergen are magnificent with soaring peaks and plunging glaciers. We will also endeavour to travel through the Hindlopen strait and photograph the dramatic ice cliffs of Brasvellbreen, perhaps even visiting the Seven Islands which mark Svalbard's northernmost extent.
Our ship, the Antigua, is an experience to be aboard in itself, and is also a wonderful platform for a photography expedition with low decks and great visibility. With a capacity of 32 berths, we will only be filling a maximum of 21, giving plenty of room for your comfort.
The cost per person is US$7,950 for a twin berth, or US$10,950 for a single cabin.
To get in the mood, watch these videos of previous Svalbard trips that Daníel and I have run. Both of these were run on a different ship, but at similar times of the year.