Greg Mortimer, High Arctic Adventure ex Longyearbyen to Kirkenes
Greg Mortimer, High Arctic Adventure ex Longyearbyen to Kirkenes
24 Night Cruise sailing from Longyearbyen to Kirkenes aboard Greg Mortimer.
Please refer to this itinerary as a guide only, as changes may occur due to unpredictable sea and weather conditions.
Flexibility is key, when joining us on our expeditions.
NOTE: High Arctic Adventure combines Svalbard Odyssey (SVAL51G) and Franz Josef Land Explorer (FJL001G). Day 11
is a turnaround day in Kirkenes for disembarking and embarking expeditioners.
Day 1 Embark Longyearbyen
Arrive in Longyearbyen, where you will embark the Greg Mortimer. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin prior to the important pre-departure briefings. Your voyage commences, cruising out of the beautiful Isfjorden, escorted by gliding fulmars and perhaps the occasional puffin. Find a spot on one of the observation areas watching for seabirds, including graceful ivory gulls, kittiwakes and guillemots. They rise and fall skilfully, using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
NOTE: Sometimes our ship is unable to dock in Longyearbyen port due to space and capacity. In these instances, we reach the ship by Zodiac. Please ensure that you keep your wet-weather gear in your hand luggage to use in the Zodiacs if the situation arises. Our crew will transport your luggage separately to your cabin. Please ensure all your luggage has your cabin tag/number attached.
Days 2-3 Northwest coast of Spitsbergen
Cruise northwards along the west coast of Spitsbergen, stopping at intriguing places like Kongsfjorden or Magdalenefjorden. Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay) is incredibly scenic, the fjord is headed by two giant glaciers. There’s ample time ashore for hiking on the lush tundra amongst the summer flowers and observing the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where even a few puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs.
We keep watch for polar bears and Arctic fox and feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of a Dutch whaling settlement, Smeerenberg on Amsterdamøya. The name Smeerenberg literally means blubber town in Dutch. It is a place of extraordinary legends, of thousands of men living there during the 1630s, a town complete with shops, gambling dens and the like. In reality, only 400 men and fifteen ships visited Smeerenberg during its peak in the 1630s for whaling purposes.
Days 4-6 Northern flanks of Spitsbergen and Nordauslandet
As we work our way along the north coast we explore rarely-visited places such as Woodfjorden and Leifdefjorden in
search of the mighty polar bear. From Zodiacs we enjoy magnificent views of sweeping glaciers winding their way into the sea. We may walk on smooth raised beach terraces to a superb viewpoint or hike in the mountains on the tundra where pretty coloured wildflowers and lichen grow and where reindeer graze. We may visit trapper huts of yesteryear where Russians and Pomors would hunt and survive the cold harsh winters, all while remaining alert for wandering polar bears and their cubs. We might come face-to-face with the formidable pack ice of the Arctic Ocean, keeping our eyes peeled for walrus feeding on clams or hauled out on the beach in wallows. We will listen to the cacophony of sea birds and see them feeding. If conditions allow, we may push north into the pack ice in hopes of finding polar bears ranging over the frozen landscape on the hunt for seals. We may also Seven Island, the northernmost islands in Svalbard where Polar Bears and walrus are common - if pack ice allows.
Days 7-9 Hinlopen Strait, East Coast of Spitsbergen and Edgeøya
Along the northeast coast of Spitsbergen we enter a different world – a polar desert. If ice conditions allow we will pass south through the narrow Hinlopen Strait. The strait is flanked by creamy coloured slabs of rock that are rich in fossils, as we will discover for ourselves when we go ashore. We may visit Alkefjellet in the Strait, where a series of one-hundred-metre-high dolerite towers are home to nearly a million nesting Brünnich’s guillemots – the penguins of the north – that occupy every available nook and cranny. Elsewhere we seek out eider ducks and geese and hope to spot Arctic fox and the beautiful ivory gulls. As the Greg Mortimer passes between Spitsbergen and the smaller islands of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, we cross a major polar bear migration route and the beautiful fertile plains of Sundeneset. The spongy ground is richly covered with bright green mosses, a variety of delicate and colourful flowers, particularly the yellow marsh (bog) saxifrage, various mushrooms, fungi, clear bubbling streams and small tarns. Tiny (micro) flowers such as Mouse Ears grow in Spitsbergen creating faerie like mossy rock gardens. We explore this beautiful terrain on foot, marvelling at the contrast between the colourful soft ground and the barren, rocky terrain from further north. Reindeer antlers lie scattered along the ground. We will do one last landing around Edgeøya on day 9 before starting the crossing of the Barents Sea, during these last day we may cruise in the pack ice again looking for our last polar bear.
Days 9-10 At Sea
Crossing the Barents Sea to Kirkenes offers some good opportunities to encounter whales and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph sea birds. You may enjoy final presentations from our team of experts, spend your time editing photos or simply relaxing.
Day 11 Kirkenes
During the early morning we cruise into the Bokfjord towards Kirkenes. As the ship’s hotel staff prepare to welcome on board expeditioners joining us on the next leg of the journey to Franz Josef Land, enjoy a pre-arranged half day excursion or activity in Kirkenes before reboarding the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon.
Day 12 Murmansk
After sailing overnight into Russia, we stop in Murmansk, to undergo formalities to enter Russia. During clearance procedures, we may go on a city of Murmansk visiting the monument to the soldier of WW2 and also the first nuclear icebreaker Lenin.
Days 13-14 At Sea
Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from our expert expedition team including naturalists, historians and geologists.
Time and weather permitting, we may cruise along the coast of Novaya Zemlya on day 4, to have a first glimpse of the tundra of the high Arctic, we may even try a landing in the tundra or a zodiac cruise in front of our first glacier. Fingers crossed!
Days 15-21 Franz Josef Land
Franz Josef Land is a stark yet beautiful world of glaciers, mosses and lichens. Approximately five million sea birds nest on the archipelago every year, with the thick-billed guillemot accounting for approximately 20%. Other seabirds such as fulmar, kittiwake, Brünnich's guillemot, black guillemot and little auk are common throughout the archipelago. On the flat tundra, nest other species such as: common eider, purple sandpiper, Arctic skua, glaucous gull, ivory gull, Arctic tern and snow bunting. Franz Josef Land is home to two Arctic giants – the Polar bear and the walrus. There is also a population of Arctic fox, which typically have their territories near seabird habitats. The waters of Franz Josef Land are visited by whales, including humpback, bowhead, narwhal, and white beluga whale. Walrus, ringed seals, bearded seals and an amazing species of mammals, choose Franz Josef Land and the water areas around it as their home.
Days 22-24 At Sea, Murmansk
The return crossing of the Barents Sea offers some good opportunities to encounter whales, perhaps the elusive bowhead whale if we’re lucky, and certainly plenty of opportunities to photograph sea birds. Back in Murmansk, we undergo Russian formalities before continuing to Kirkenes.
Day 25 Disembark Kirkenes
Arrive in Kirkenes in the morning, farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature.
|17/07/20||Champ Island, Russian Federation|
|16/07/20||Bell Island, Russian Federation|
|18/07/20||Franz Josef Land, Russia|
|19/07/20||Franz Josef Land, Russia|
|20/07/20||Franz Josef Land, Russia|
|21/07/20||Franz Josef Land, Russia|
|22/07/20||Franz Josef Land, Russia|