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4th April 2018
Located 640 kilometres north of the Norwegian mainland, two thirds of the Svalbard Archipelago is covered by glaciers, and though accessible it still remains one of the most hostile places on earth.
Svalbard is one and a half times the size of Denmark but has only 45 kms of paved roads! The region is so large that the only practical way of getting around in winter is by snowmobile, the main mode of transportation on Svalbard. Be captivated by Svalbard's magnificent scenery and by the arrival of the Midnight Sun after 19 April and enjoy a rare sense of freedom as you drive across one gigantic, white glacier after another. Marvel at the enormous icebergs on the east coast - but keep your eyes open - with a bit of luck you may spot a polar bear on the ice!
Spitsbergen is the main island in the archipelago and this is where you will stay during your adventure, exploring the awe inspiring landscape by day using a snowmobile and dog sled.
Day 1 - Arrive Oslo
Arrive at Oslo Airport by air from the UK. Either take the high speed airport train or the 'slow speed' (but cheaper!) airport bus to Oslo city centre and your centrally located hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore Norway's lovely capital city. We definitely recommend The Fram Museum for an insight into the expeditions of previous Polar explorers.
1 night OSLO - Thon Hotel Terminus (D,B)
Day 2 - Fly to Svalbard!
Retrace your journey to Oslo Airport for your direct morning flight to Longyearbyen, situated on the island of Spitsbergen and Svalbard's largest and primary settlement. Transfer by shuttle bus from the airport to your hotel in the centre of Longyearbyen. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore Longyearbyen. If you need any extra outdoor clothing then Longyearbyen is certainly the place to buy it. The quality of the clothing in the outdoor clothing and equipment shops is exactly what you would expect for these climes and Svalbard is Duty-Free...!
We definitely recommend a visit to Svalbard Museum - a nature and culture historical museum, which presents Svalbard's 400 year old history. Here you will learn more about history, geology, flora, fauna and today's community.
4 nights LONGYEARBYEN - Spitsbergen Hotel or similar (B)
Day 3 - Snowmobile Safari to Tempelfjord
Enjoy an early breakfast at your hotel before meeting with your guides from Spitsbergen Travel for your day's expedition to Tempelfjord. Departure from Longyearbyen at approximately 0930.
After a briefing on the tour and the snowmobiles, you will jump on your snowmobiles, ready to explore. Your guide will lead you through the Advent Valley, before you make your way into more interesting terrain. During the trip, you may spot the local Svalbard reindeer, and your guide will make a variety of stops to point out wildlife, natural wonders and historical sites.
One of the most interesting of these is the trappers base, Fredheim, located on the shore of the Tempelfjord. Hilmar Nøis, perhaps the most famous Norwegian hunter, had his base here for well over 30 years. His original cabin remains, a testament to this hardy soul, as well as the larger villa he built for his second wife.
Should the conditions be suitable, you will head out onto the frozen fjord, and explore the area towards the Tuna Glacier. Alternatively you will explore the area by land. An expedition lunch will be served out in the wilderness, before you return to Longyearbyen and civilisation!
Relax before dinner at your leisure.
Day 4 - Dog Sledding in Bolterdalen
Another early breakfast at your hotel before departing for your dog sledding safari. You will be picked up from your hotel at approximately 0830 for the drive out to Bolterdalen, where everyone will receive an exposure suit, boots, mittens, hat and buff for the tour. Your guide will give you an introduction to the mysteries of dogsledding and help everyone to harness the dogs and fasten them to the sleds. The dogs will be noisy before you start out, but as soon as you head off it will be silent.
Your guide will drive first along with two guests, and the following sleds will each be driven by two guests. You follow the riverbed as it meanders back and forth into Bolterdalen, surrounded by beautiful mountains. In by the moraine you may gain some speed between the mounds of stone. Reindeer are often seen on this tour and sometimes Svalbard grouse and Polar foxes as well. You will stop several times during the tour to take pictures and pat the dogs. At the Scott Turner Glacier you will turn the sleds and set a course for the dog yards. On your return you will help to unharness the dogs, before your guide serves a cup or tea and coffee, and shows you the newest litter of puppies!
The remainder of the afternoon and evening is free to relax in Longyearbyen and at your hotel. Why not enjoy lunch at Svalbar, Longyearbyen's popular local pub which serves excellent food with a local atmosphere.
Day 5 - Free day to relax or try an optional activity
Today you have the opportunity to try one of our featured optional excursions (see under Excursions) or alternatively relax and mix with the locals during a potter about in Longyearbyen.
Day 6 - Return home
Breakfast is served at your hotel with the remainder of the morning free to relax. Early afternoon transfer by airport shuttle bus to Longyearbyen Airport for your return flight to the UK via Oslo.
If you would like to extend your stay why not consider spending a couple of night in Tromsø, the Arctic's capital city and located on Norway's mainland? The city was the starting point for many polar expeditions and offers a wealth of Arctic sophistication!
Departure Day: Tuesday or Thursday
Departure Dates: 13 March - 10 May
Duration: 5 nights
Deposit: £400 per person
Prices from: Prices are based on two people travelling together and sharing a double/twin room with shower and WC.
|Departure Dates||Price from per person|
|13 Mar - 10 May 2018||£2245|
Please make sure you read our Info+ page for this tour as it contains important information regarding this trip.
TO BOOK: Please call us on 01274 875199 so we may discuss your preferred departure date and answer any questions you may have. Alternatively, email your request and questions to email@example.com and we will endeavour to respond within 24 hours.
PLEASE READ: Please ensure you, or your clients, have read our Terms and Conditions.
SPITSBERGEN HOTEL (3 star) - Longyearbyen
Spitsbergen Hotel offers modern comfort in historic surroundings with a unique Svalbard style. Situated on the "Hill" it has great views of Longyearbyen, the Lars glacier and the Longyear glacier. The hotel was constructed in 1947, but has been extensively refurbished over the years both internally and externally. In the cosy lounge you will find freshly baked waffles every afternoon condusive to sitting in front of the open fire with a book from the hotel's library. You can also relax in the spa department which has a sauna and massage chair. FunktionÃ¦rmessen Restaurant has a fantastic view of the town, the Longyear Glacier and Hiorthfjellet on the far side of the Adventfjord. The restaurant takes its inspiration from the French kitchen, and you will discover a carefully planned selection of wines and dishes that tempt you with both taste and appearance. The hotel was originally built as an accommodation/dining area for employees at Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani. It was also the company's official representational building, and its interior and architecture made it Longyearbyen's grandest construction. Great effort has been placed in preserving its special history and it is well worth a cultural stroll along the hotel corridors and public areas where youâ€™ll find historic photographs, old maps and newspaper clippings. The hotel has 88 rooms, all of a high standard, with several being decorated in the original style. All rooms are non-smoking.
A winter holiday in Svalbard is a real adventure and, as such, we know there is additional information you will appreciate. We think we have covered most of it here but if there's anything extra you can think of just let us know and we'll add it. The first lot of information is specific to your tour following which you will find useful general information regarding the destination.
Who is this holiday suitable for?
This holiday is pretty much suitable for anyone with a good sense of adventure, however, there are a few things that are important to know if you're considering this trip:
About your snowmobile trip - click here for our fact sheet
A full briefing, snowmobile, fuel, snowmobile suit, special boots, outer mittens, helmet, face mask or balaclava, driving goggles, lunch, insurance and tour leader with snowmobile, weapon and safety sledge are all included in your trip.
This is a very long day trip, 210 kilometres. You will need to wear warm woollen underclothes, warm outer trousers and a thick woollen sweater under your snowmobile suit during the trip and a full clothing list will be sent with your Travel Documentation. We also recommend that you pack extra clothes in backpacks, for example an extra sweater, cap and mittens. Do you use glases? We recommend using lenses instead whilst driving snowmobiles.
Liability insurance and rescue insurance is included in the tour price. However, you MUST have valid travel insurance and you will need to let us have the details of this once your holiday is confirmed. The cost of damages to the snowmobile and/or surroundings will be charged to the driver if the driver has acted in a negligent manner.
About your dog sledding safari - click here for our fact sheet
Dog sledding has long been a tradition on Svalbard. Early explorers and intrepid hunters used man’s best friend to navigate the snow-covered tundra and frozen fjords in the 1800s, and today this tradition continues, albeit mostly for pleasure driving today! On your dogsledding tour the guide will drive first with 2 guests on his sled. These guests will have the chance to steer 10 – 12 dogs! After this the rest of the group will travel in two person sleds with 5 – 6 dogs. During the tour guests can take turns at driving or just enjoy the snow-covered scenery from the sled. A love of dogs is helpful!
In the interests of safety your guides reserve the right to change the planned routes due to weather conditions. These changes will not affect your tour price. You will be collected from your hotel by your guides. On arrival at the dog yard you will be equipped with warm outerwear and boots. After this there will be a briefing on your tour and route, and a demonstration of how to control the sleds. Your guides will then show you how to harness your dogs and your group will work together to get your dog teams ready before your tour starts in earnest. After completion of your tour you will help to unharness your dogs before being driven back to your hotel/guesthouse.
You will be equipped with exposure suits, boots, mittens and balaclavas. We recommend wearing long woollen underwear, a good woollen jumper/fleece jacket and warm, lined pants or fleece pants, thick woollen socks, thin woollen gloves, warm headwear and a scarf or buff beneath the provided outerwear. For dog wagon tour you should also wear warm outerwear. We recommend you take a small backpack with extra woollen layers, headwear and mittens.
Many of our tours take place in areas far from settlements. As such there are generally no toilets available during the tours. Simple toilets are provided at the dog yard and you may use these before and after.
What is the difference between Svalbard and Spitsbergen?
We are often asked what the difference is between Svalbard and Spitsbergen. Svalbard is the official name for the entire Archipelago, of which Spitsbergen is the largest island. The name Svalbard was taken into official use following the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in 1920, and originates from the Icelandic texts which relate to a possible discovery of the archipelago in the early 1100s. Svalbard means ‘the cold coasts’ in old Scandinavian. The name Spitsbergen was given to the area by Willem Barentz, the first person proven to have discovered the islands. Spitsbergen means ‘pointy mountains’ in reference to the geography Barentz met when he first sighted land in the north-west of the island.
What facilities are available in Longyearbyen, the settlement where I am staying?
There are a wide range of services and shops in Longyearbyen. Amongst these are: bank with ATM, bars, library, car hire, camping grounds, hair dresser, art gallery, sports hall, swimming pool, accommodation facilities, cafés, cinema, church, museum, post office, restaurants, hospital, dentist, taxi and tourist information.
What is the currency of Svalbard?
The Norwegian Krone is used throughout Svalbard, including the Russian settlements. Common credit cards are accepted at hotels, tour operators and shops. Remember to take cash if visiting Pyramiden. An ATM is located in the bank building. The bank does not offer a currency exchange service, and visitors should check exchange rates before paying with foreign currency.
You should use the warmest clothing you have. Several layers of wool with a windproof outer layer is a good start. If you are going snowmobiling you may find that this is not enough. For your organised snowmobile trips and dogsledding tours the necessary extra clothing and equipment is included. You can also purchase or hire this equipment locally.
A lot of the terrain on Svalbard is uneven, and we recommend solid hiking/mountain boots. It is important to use the warmest possible shoes. On Svalbard there is a tradition of taking off shoes when entering homes, hotels and other accommodation providers, offices and shops. This tradition stretches back to the time when the coal mines in Longyear Valley were in use. To help keep the coal dust out of buildings the locals would always take off their shoes. Make sure you take your good socks and not the ones with the holes in them!!
Svalbard is not subject to customs and VAT/GST regulations. This means many goods are cheaper there than in mainland Norway. Other items, such as fruit, vegetables and milk can be substantially more expensive due to high freight costs. In Longyearbyen you can find both large and small shops selling everything from groceries to sports and leisure equipment, clothing, gifts and souvenirs.
Svalbard is connected to the telephone network on the mainland by a fibre optic cable. This ensures good coverage in Longyearbyen, Barentsburg, parts of the Ice Fjord (Isfjorden), Svea and Ny-Ålesund. Outside of these areas it can be difficult to find a signal. In Longyearbyen the rates are the same as the Norwegian mainland. In Barentsburg you may need to select the Norwegian provider in order to access these rates. It is worth noting that certain mobile phones (iPhones particularly!!) do not like temperatures below zero!
High speed internet is available in Longyearbyen. Guests of the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen and Spitsbergen Hotel have complimentary WIFI at their hotels. WIFI is available in the common area at Spitsbergen Guesthouse for a small fee.
As of 1 February 2011, the identity of all travellers between Svalbard and the Norwegian mainland will be checked both upon arrival and departure. Until now, the Immigration Regulations have only permitted identity verification of foreign nationals upon entry from Svalbard. Pursuant to the Schengen Regulations, the identity of all travellers crossing any Schengen external border must be checked. As Svalbard is not a part of the Schengen area, the identity of all travellers between Svalbard and the Norwegian mainland must be verified. According to these changes, as of 1 February 2011 the identity of all travellers will be checked both upon entry and departure. This will apply to both Norwegian citizens and foreign nationals (i.e. both individuals covered by the EEA agreement or the EFTA convention and third country nationals). Passports or national identity cards should satisfy Schengen regulation requirements for identity verification.