Svalbard Classic trip report
ORYX Tour Partner Roy Mangernses just returned from the last Svalbard photography tour of the year and what a great photography expedition it was!
“Svalbard is regarded as the best place in the world to photograph the legendary Polar Bear, and the months of August and September are considered the best time for a Svalbard photo tour. By the end of August and September, the ice has typically melted sufficiently to allow ships to navigate the area thoroughly and the summer months in the arctic circle also means photographic opportunities are not restricted by the cover of darkness because of the never setting midnight sun.”
“Our photography tour began at the richly historical former mining town of Longyearbyen, which is also the administrative capital of Spitsbergen. Our journey commenced as we sailed through Isfjorden, the second longest fjord in Svalbard en-route to finding Polar Bears and Walruses among the drift ice speckled across the sea.”
We managed to explore the archipelago quite thoroughly, and found a good number of Polar Bears on the drifting ice during the course of our photography expedition. Our guests were fortunate enough to encounter a few Blue Whales as well, which are largest living mammals on earth!”
We used zodiac boats to get close to the wildlife on the ice, or when exploring and searching for photo opportunities in front of glaciers. Much to our delight, the rarely seen but odd looking Hooded Seal chilled comfortably on the ice as we cruised by, and the remote islands in and around Svalbard yielded some sightings of the curious Artic Fox, including a rare “Blue Fox.” These are not a separate species but instead don’t lose their brown coat during the moulting months into winter, and only make up 3% of the population in Spitsbergen. Interestingly, we managed to find some foxes that were still sporting their brown summer coats, while others were already turning white.”
“After 10 days at sea, our photo safari sadly came to an end. And as we made our way back to Longyearbyen with maxed out memory cards, we were greeted with the first sunset of the autumn season that bathed the land of the Polar Bear in beautiful contrasting shades of pink and blue.”