Svalbard 04-14.08 2020

Day 1 – 4.8.2020 Slightly delayed due to fog at the airport we left Longyearbyen and travelled out through Isfjorden in the late evening light. The tour was a joint partnership with Fotoreisen and the guests were Swiss, German and Austrian. Just outside Barentsburg we started spotting whales as a couple of Minke whales swam by. During the night we continued north along the west coast.

Day 2 – 5.8.2020 At breakfast we had a beautiful encounter with a Polar bear on the beach, nearby an old Sperm Whale carcass. Watching the bear was a very nice start to our expedition, and everyone got a good set of images the first morning.

Polar bear near Sperm whale carcass. Sony a7rIV with 24-105/4, 1/400 sec, f/8 and ISO200

Afterwards we continued north and into Smeerenburg. The clouds were low and we got some nice landscape images here before dinner. During the evening and night we traveled east and north towards the pack ice.

Jagged teeth in Smeerenburg. Sony a7rIV, with 70-200mm/2,8, 1/400, f/9 and ISO 200

Day 3 – 6.8.2020 Mid day we arrived at the ice, but some fog in the area made it hard to see. We knew we were in a good spot so we started following the ice north and east as we searched for wildlife. Bearded seals and Harp seals were seen, but the fog got thicker and made it hard for us to see any further than the closest ice edge.

Bearded seal hidden by thick fog. Sony a7rIV with 24-105mm/4, 1/320 sec, f/7,1 and ISO200

Day 4 – 7.8.2020 During the night and early morning we navigated south again and through Sjuøyene, then heading east and up on the other side of the ice sheet. Just before breakfast we had a nice encounter with a group of 5 walrus on the ice, including two small cubs. We photographed them from the ship with Sjuøyene in the background.

Female Walrus with cubs resting on an ice floe. Sony a7rIV with 24-105mm/4, 1/320 sec, f/7,1 and 200

Later, as we sailed north we also photographed bearded seals on ice and as the ice floes got bigger we had some amazing light coming through the fog. Everyone was on deck shooting this very special place up in the packice. Old polar bear tracks were seen on an ice floe, but the King of the Arctic stayed hidden in the thick fog.

Day 5 – 8.8.2020 During the morning we were pushed south by the ice and passed close by Karl XII Island. The fog lifted and it was dead calm so we decided to lower the zodiacs and go for a cruise. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the scenery as well as the birds in the area.

The rest of the day was spent heading east.

Day 6 – 9.8.2020 As expected the fog lifted near the ice cap of Kvitøya and we spent the first hours of the day in the zodiacs cruising along the coast. The midnight sun lit the glacier and we were greeted by large groups of Walrus. We only arrived back onboard the Origo at 4:30 in the morning.

Walrus at midnight. Sony a7rIV with 24-105mm/4, 1/1250 sec, f/5 and ISO 500

During the morning and day we sailed south along Austfonna glacier, the second largest glacier front in the world. Before dinner we arrived at a section that is known for its amazing glacier waterfalls.

Fog bow over a Austfonna glacier waterfall. DJI Mvic Pro 2

Galceir waterfall with Northern fulmar flying by. Sony A9II with 70-200mm/2,8, 1/1250 sec, f/5,6 and ISO 500

Day 7 – 10.8.2020 From midnight and until 5 in the morning we had a great landing in Hinlopen with Walrus. There were approximately 200 animals on the beach and in the water, and many of them were very curious. It is such a privilege to see femals and cubs together and it was really nice to see that they were very relaxed around visitors.

Walrus calling. Sony A9II with 70-200mm/2,8, 1/1000 sec, f/2,8 and ISO 1250

After lunch we anchored further north in Hinlopen and went out with zodiacs to the Alkefjellet bird cliff. The visibility was fairly good and we enjoyed several hours with the birds along the cliff and also a couple of foxes. We were lucky and saw many Brünnich guillemot chicks jumping from the cliff, and also Glaucous gull hunting them in mid air and on the water.

Brünnich guillemot. Sony A9II with 70-200mm/2,8, 1/1600 sec, f/2,8 and ISO 500

Brünnich guillemot chick with parent. Sony A9II and 70-200mm/2,8, 1/1250 sec, f/2,8 and ISO 500

Glaucous gull with dead guillemot chick. Sony A9II with 70-200mm/2,8, 1/1600 sec, f/2,8 and ISO 160

On the way back we visited a great blue iceberg with Kittywakes.

Brünnichs gullimot and Kittywake on iceberg. Sony a7rII with 24-105mm/4, 1/800 sec, f/4 and ISO 500

Kittywakes on iceberg. Sony a7rII with 24-105mm/4, 1/800 sec, f/4 and ISO 500

Day 8 – 11.8.2020 Early in the morning we arrived in Woodfjorden. The visibility was good and we saw several Blue whales feeding on our way in. It seemed there was a good food supply because we also spotted some Minke whales in the same area. As we came into Liefdefjorden we also got close to a feeding Humpback whale and another two Blue whales.

Humpback whale and MS Origo. DJI Mavic Pro 2

Blue whale from above. DJI Mavic Pro 2

After lunch we went on a long zodiac cruise near the Monaco glacier and photographed birds near the icebergs and also near the glacier. We also found some amazing ice structures that we photographed. A young Ringed seal was seen close to one of the zodiacs and gave the photographers a nice show.

Kittywakes in front of the Monaco glacier. Sony A9II with 600mm/2,8, 1/30, f/11 and ISO 50

Fulmar over iceberg in Liefdefjorden. Sony a7rIV with 24-1005mm/4, 1/640 sec, f/8 and ISO 200

Iceberg detail in Liefdefjorden. Sony a7rIV with 24-105mm/4, 1/320 sec, f/8 and ISO 200

Blue lagoon on top of the Monaco glacier. DJI Mavic Pro 2

During the evening and early night we moved out of the fjord and saw up to 20 Minke whales and a Fin whale on the way out, As we headed into the beautiful night light we spotted several Blue whales on the horizon and changed our course to have a closer look.

Day 9 – 12.8.2020 At 03:00 in the morning we spent some time with two Blue whales feeding in amazing light and got to see some very interesting behavior as they rolled on their side close to our ship. The light was amazing in during the night and everyone was enjoying this spectacle from deck.

Blue whale seen from afar just after midnight. Sony A9II with 600mm/4, 1/1600 sec, f/4 and ISO 400

Blue whale in late night light. Sony a7rIV with 70-200mm/2,8, 1/400 sec, f/5,6 and ISO 320

After breakfast we arrived in Raudfjorden and from the ship we saw two Polar bears under a bird cliff. We got a really nice encounter with the bears. One of them spent a lot of time feeding on Mountain sorrel, filling its stomach with this plant. Apparently it contains a lot of vitamin C and might have a preventive effect on scurvy.

Polar bear resting in the slopes of Raudfjorden. Sony A9II with 600mm/4, 1/2500 sec, f/4 and ISO 1000

Polar bear eating Mountain sorrel, perhaps to get vitamin C. Sony A9II with 600mm/4, 1/1600 sec, f/4 and ISO 1000

Day 10 – 13.8.2020 After breakfast we did a landing at Alkhornet in Isfjorden. The wind and swell had dropped but we had some rain as we went out. During the landing we spotted two foxes from afar and had some nice close encounters with the local Svalbard reindeer. The males were looking good and getting ready for the rut later in September.

Svalbard reindeer bull. Sony A9II with 600mm/4, 1/640 sec, f/4 and ISO 1000

After lunch we moved further into Isfjorden where we had our last zodiac outing of the trip. Most of the time was spent photographing the amazing icebergs in the area.

The ship arrived in Longyearbyen late that evening for our last night onboard.

Our fourth Svalbard expedition of 2020 was yet another great success and covid-free. We thank both guests and partners for trusting us in providing a safe expedition in these difficult times!

Let us know if you want to travel with us on a similar photo expedition to Svalbard. See more info about the Classic photo expeditions HERE

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