Achieve the perfect balance of culture and adrenaline on this epic expedition to Svalbard. Sample the city delights of Oslo, from its art and architecture to pioneering Nordic cuisine. Then, in the tradition of the trappers who would come to Spitsbergen to hunt, we’ll help you track down the ultimate frontier adventure. Along the way we’ll show you the route to a remote lodge lying halfway between Norway and the North Pole, with an intimate atmosphere and top local guides. We’ve handpicked some of Norway’s most exciting hotels and luxury lodges for you as well, and there will be plenty of opportunities for you to immerse yourself in Svalbard’s unspoiled wilderness.
Your journey begins well south of the Arctic Circle. After a complimentary chauffeur-driven drive to the airport, you’ll start by flying to Oslo for a night at the city’s hippest hotel. The Thief is new Nordic accommodation at its best, with superb views of the surrounding fjords competing with stylish décor and striking pop art pictures for your attention. See more at the nearby Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, stroll along the area’s attractive waterways and dip into the designer boutiques at Aker Brygge. Back at The Thief, sneak into the concrete-lined spa for a stolen moment or to swim in the candlelit heated indoor pool. Pamper yourself with a Turkish-style hammam or Moroccan rhassoul therapy. Dress for dinner and enjoy a culinary tour of the country in the course of a tasting menu that plunders Norway’s best produce, then kick back in the bar with a concoction conjured by the hotel’s master mixologist.
Stay: The Thief
You’ll then take a morning flight to Longyearbyen, capital of Svalbard, connecting through to the exclusive Basecamp Hotel. Deep within the Arctic Circle, in the heart of the northernmost town in the world, this trapper-style lodge is full of artefacts that hint at the expeditionary past of the island. Soak up the views over the town and towards the snow-capped mountains. Wander around the atmospheric town, stopping to dine at one of the good-quality restaurants close by. Back at base, prepare for your expedition to Spitsbergen by immersing yourself in the pictures, maps and stories of Arctic explorers. Finally, relax with a drink in the Cognac Loft, under a glass ceiling that lets you stargaze or lose yourself in the Northern Lights.
Stay: Basecamp Hotel
The adventure really begins today. After an introduction to your private guide and a briefing on how to drive a snowmobile, strike out west across the frozen ice for more than 50 miles. Along the way you’ll stop for an expedition lunch. Having reached Kapp Linne by the Isfjord, the first indication you are close to your end destination will be the appearance of a giant radio mast and satellite disk, looming over an inn. A one-time communications building from the 1930s, Isfjord Radio has been boldly reimagined as a rustic-chic retreat. After your epic journey, revel in the cosy confines of the inn and take in the where you are. Try an Arctic sauna or simply sit in a comfy chair, snuggled in goatskin blankets to watch the birds wheel above the waves as the sun changes colour and dips below the horizon. If your inner explorer demands more, take a dip in the Arctic Ocean for an unforgettable end to an epic day. In the evening, gather around a large table for a hearty three-course dinner of Norwegian specialities, including meat and fish caught by one of the few traditional trappers still overwintering and hunting on Spitsbergen.
Spend the day exploring the polar landscape of Spitsbergen. Your private guide will select a route according to the weather conditions and snow. Follow them as they navigate a route a to the Russian mining town of Barentsburg and discover the reality of life in an isolated Arctic town. Meet some of the locals and learn more about the history of mining on Spitsbergen before boarding your snowmobile again and continuing to Longyearbyen. Returning to Basecamp Hotel you’ll now be one of the Arctic explorers who know the secrets of what lies north.
Stay: Basecamp Hotel
Venture back into the wilderness to look for Arctic wildlife such as seals, fox, reindeer and even polar bear. Choose a day of dog-sledding, snowshoeing or scrambling on a glacier. After the exertions, brush up on your Polar reading from the library in the Basecamp lobby, swap adventure stories with other hardy souls or stride out into town to try the hearty meals at the good-quality restaurant next door. As you make the snowy stroll, experience the Polar night and feel the thick, heavy silence as you search for the magnificent Northern Lights.
Stay: Basecamp Hotel
Awake in the Arctic one more time. Soak up the final sights and then prepare for your return journey; we’ll whisk you to the airport in time for an onward flight home.
"This is a fun-fuelled arctic adventure that takes in everything from polar bear spotting to evening snowmobile rides in search of the Northern Lights. If you're looking for a bucket-list trip then look no further - this is Scandinavia at its wildest and, some may even say, its best. "
Winter 2020 from: £3,155 pp