Polar Bears of Svalbard
DATE 3 Aug – 12 August 2018
GENRE wildlife and landscape
TOUR LEADER Greg du Toit
FEE 7,200 EURO (cabin with sharing facilities)
7,950 EURO (cabin with private facilities)
the tour starts in Longyearbyen
DOWNPAYMENT 2,500 EURO
GROUP SIZE min. 10, max. 13 guests
LEVEL all experience levels
If there is a big change in oil prices, it may be necessary to add a fuel surcharge to the final invoice. You will be notified beforehand if this is going to happen.
JUST THE POLAR BEARS AND US
Svalbard has always had our interest, but the problem is that the amount of small ships available is very limited. Or you end up on a large boat with lots of other guests and tour groups. Not what we want! That is why we are very happy that we have been able to charter a small ship for an exclusive Squiver photo tour with a group of only 13 guests to Svalbard! Our main objective is to photograph polar bears in their natural surroundings, but we will also have the possibility to photograph whales, walrus, arctic fox and a large variety of sea birds. You will be traveling on the MS Malmö, which is a sister ship to both the MS Origo and MS Stockholm.
The nice thing about photographing polar bears in Svalbard, is that you will be able to photograph polar bears with constantly changing surroundings. The landscape is mind blowing, and to see a polar bear in it, makes the picture so much more special than just in snow, or always with the same vegetation in your shots. This means you will end up with a lot of different images on this tour!
OUR SCHEDULE IS TOTALLY FLEXIBLE
There are no pre-defined plans that will rush us, no day routines that affect our shooting schedule, nor souvenir stores we need to visit. It’s all about photography. As the focus is on polar bears on ice rather than on land, we will start sailing to the area that has the best chances on seeing them on pack-ice. Together with the captain and the expedition leader we will decide on the best strategy to make it work!
This means the route is different each year, as the entire plan is based on the ice conditions, the wind and where the bears are! And where the bears were last season, doesn’t say much about where they are the next. If there is a year with a lot of ice, you do not need to travel far north to reach the ice edge. But if there is a year with little ice for instance, it means that you have to travel a bit further to get to the ice edge in the north of Svalbard.
The tour leader will decide with the highly experienced expedition leader and captain the route on a daily basis, depending on the ice charts and the weather forecast. That’s the nice thing about a small ship for only our group: we are totally flexible in where we go. And the location of the ice edge around Svalbard is key in deciding where to go. Because the ultimate goal is finding polar bears on ice. And that is usually in the north (Nordkapp), or on the ice edge around Nordaustlandet.
We do not have a goal when it comes to the route, because that makes no sense. Some ships for instance tell you that you will circumnavigate Spitsbergen. However, navigating around Spitsbergen only makes sense if there have been bears spotted in the south-east for instance. Otherwise we won’t do that; that would be wasting valuable time. The focus on this tour is on bears, where ever they are.
This does not mean we won’t try and photograph beautiful glaciers, arctic fox, reindeer, walrus, puffins and sea birds. It’s just not our first priority, but we definitely will try to squeeze them into the mix!
A PRIVATE, SMALL BOAT
Because the bow of the boat is low, you can take shots from a very low angle. We have 2 zodiacs at our disposal with only 6 or 7 guests per zodiac. This allows you more room to move around with your photo gear, and for more stability when photographing!
SHOOTING FROM THE BOAT, ZODIACS AND LAND/ICE
We decide if we want to photograph from the bow of the ship, or if it is better to get into zodiacs, or get on land. All will be done to get the best photographs possible on this trip! Our ship has an ice-strengthened hull, which means that we can move into the sea ice – and that will happen often. This is very important, because the polar bears hang around on the sea ice, so if you want to get close to them, you need to be in the ice. Most of the larger ships don’t have an ice-strengthened hull, so they will stay away from the ice – not good for photography.
This tour is lead by Greg du Toit, who is a very gifted photographer with many awards in his name and a lot of experience with being a tour leader. This means that his photographic tutoring is of the highest level you can expect. This will help you make great pictures of for instance bears, walruses, foxes, reindeer and birds. His skills in wildlife photography guarantee that Greg can help you further in perfecting your photography skills.
PHOTOGRAPHING IN SNOW & ICE
One aspect which is very important for the Svalbard tour, is knowing how to shoot in snow & icy conditions. Because it can result in a lot of over- or underexposed images if you are not careful. Greg knows all about these conditions. He has photographed animals in snow and on ice in all weather types imaginable: in a very harsh snow blizzard, as well as on sunny days with extremely bright snow. So he is very well equipped to teach you how to shoot a polar bear on ice, and will certainly give a presentation on this technical subject on one of the first days of the tour, to help you make better pictures.
INCLUDED IN THE TOUR FEE
- 9 nights on the ship
- all meals
- guides and crew on board
- highly experience expedition leader with arctic and antarctic experience
- all landings with zodiacs
NOT INCLUDED IN THE TOUR FEE
- all other drinks
- tips for the crew
- travel and cancellation insurance
For your information, we also have a link to our Terms & Conditions for you.
If you would like to take out cancellation insurance for a tour, it needs to be arranged upon booking. You can get cancellation insurance through a third party, or we can arrange it for you. For more information go to: www.squiver.com/insurance.html.