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Expedition Journal I Private Expedition I 28th June - 8th July 2023

Expedition Journal I Private Expedition on MV Polarfront I 28th June – 8th July 2023

Voyage

Private Expedition in Svalbard

Date

28th June – 8th July 2023

Ship

MV Polarfront

Expedition Team

Ombline Chabasseur & Raphaël Sané

Polar front behind iceberg in Svalbard

28th June 2023

Welcome on board!

On the late afternoon of June 28th, we set off from the port of Longyearbyen to embark on our journey. In the distance, the beautiful lights illuminate the mountainous landscape. As we leave Isfjord, we are fortunate to witness an extraordinary sight. Humpback whales, blue whales, and minke whales populate the waters, fascinating us with their presence. We feel a sense of wonder as we continue our expedition, fully aware of the privilege we have to observe these magnificent sea creatures up close, all happening on the very first evening!

29th June 2023

Today, on June 29th, we sail into Hornsund. Upon our arrival, we are fortunate to spot some humpback whales near the fjord’s entrance. Following a mandatory briefing in the morning, we enjoy a pleasant navigation experience. In the afternoon, we take a stroll at Gnålodden, a beautiful flower-filled tundra. During our walk, we encounter a fascinating pair of Arctic skuas, birds known for fearlessly defending their nests by attacking animals much larger than themselves – an experience we have the opportunity to witness! We also visit a trapper’s cabin and climb to a vantage point to admire the landscape.

30th June 2023

On the morning of June 30th, we are filled with excitement as we continue our navigation, eager for the next leg of our adventure. The crisp Arctic air accompanies us as we make our way towards our next destination. In the afternoon, we arrive at Kapp Lee (Doleriteneset), where we are greeted by a wild and untouched landscape. During our zodiac journey to the shore, about ten curious walruses swim towards us, observing our presence. It’s a delightful encounter before we set out to explore the tundra. During our walk, we have the chance to spot peacefully grazing reindeer, going about their daily activities. Near the old trappers’ cabins, we are awestruck by the presence of approximately 300 walruses.

1st July 2023

On the morning of July 1st, we venture into the glacial and misty waters of the east of Spitsbergen. Aboard the zodiac, we take a ride amidst the scattered ice floes, marveling at these frozen landscapes. Eventually, we step ashore on a large ice floe, finding it hard to believe that we are actually walking on water! It’s an incredible experience, realizing a childhood dream come true… In the afternoon, our beautiful navigation continues. We witness impressive waterfalls at Bråsvellbreen. It’s a breathtaking spectacle, with water cascading down the icy cliffs. We take our time to admire these natural wonders, capturing photos to immortalize these unforgettable moments.

2nd July 2023

On the morning of July 2nd, we set out on an excursion to Torrellneset, where a light mist adds a touch of mystery and magic to this magnificent polar desert. On land, we are fortunate to observe a walrus haul-out. In the distance, a fox catches our attention with its agile run. Next, we embark on a hike on the Austfonna ice cap – the largest in the Northern Hemisphere after Greenland’s. In the afternoon, our adventure continues as we explore Alkefjellet by zodiac. Our goal is to admire the cliff housing Brünnich’s guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. We are awestruck by the multitude of birds nesting on these sheer cliffs. In the evening, we are fortunate to spot a bear in Lomfjorden. We observe its strength and grace as it confidently moves along the fjord’s shores.

3rd July 2023

On the morning of July 3rd, we head towards Falksvagen, a vantage point that promises a magnificent panoramic view of the surroundings. The walk treats us to breathtaking landscapes that stretch before us, and we take our time to admire the awe-inspiring scenery. Next, we embark on a beautiful navigation through the Hinlopen Strait. Off the coast of Wahlbergøya Island, we are fortunate to spot two bears on the melting sea ice. In the evening, we learn that the sea ice is releasing its grip on the northern coasts of Spitsbergen, making a circumnavigation around the island possible!

4th July 2023

We are doing it! We are among the first ships of the year to navigate through the northern part of Spitsbergen, skillfully avoiding the remaining ice belts! As the morning progresses, a stunning panorama of rugged mountains gradually unfolds, rewarding us for our efforts. On the afternoon, we take a stroll to a viewpoint at Narreneset, in Raudfjord. Along the way, we are fortunate to catch a glimpse of a Purple Sandpiper. Upon reaching the summit, we enjoy hot chocolate, savoring this little indulgence while admiring the panoramic view. On our way back down, we take a moment to construct an Inukshuk, those small stone figures traditionally erected by the Inuit. During our return, we make a surprising discovery: a gosling of a Barnacle Goose found on the beach. We observe it with curiosity, delighted by its tiny size and fluffy plumage.

5th July 2023

On the morning of July 5th, we set out on a hike towards the summit of Ytre Norskøya. Along the way, we are fortunate to encounter a small colony of Puffins. Their colorful beaks and clumsy way of flying bring joy to our walk. We get a close-up view and capture a few photos. Under the beautiful blue sky, we savor sandwiches and apple pie prepared by our chef Yves earlier in the morning. Marlyse treats us to coffee or herbal tea, and we indulge in a moment of siesta with this breathtaking view! In the afternoon, we decide to unwind by taking out the pedal boats and heading to a beach near Smeerenburgbreen. We bask in the sun and enjoy the tranquility of this beautiful place. It’s a well-deserved moment of relaxation, far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

6th July 2023

On the morning of July 6th, we embark on a zodiac ride in front of Kongsbreen. During this excursion, we are fortunate to witness the calving of the glacier, an impressive spectacle where huge chunks of ice break off and fall into the water. Additionally, we are delighted to spot bearded seals, basking on the floating ice chunks. It’s a unique experience to observe these magnificent animals up close in their natural environment. In the afternoon, we head towards a viewpoint at Ossian Siarsfjellet, a small peninsula nestled at the end of King’s Bay. From the zodiac, we are fortunate to spot beluga whales. Once ashore, we continue our exploration and have the opportunity to encounter reindeer, as well as a ptarmigan, an iconic bird of the region.

Seal encounter during zodiac cruise in svalbard

7th July 2023

On the morning of July 7th, we set out on a hike to Alkhornet, located in Isfjord. The tundra we traverse is stunning, and there’s no shortage of reindeer roaming around. They peacefully blend in with the natural surroundings, giving life to this peaceful landscape. But the real highlight of the hike comes when we stumble upon a family of Arctic foxes. A mother fox and her five adorable cubs capture our attention. Watching them play and interact is truly amazing. One of the cubs is particularly brave, exploring its territory and leaving us all feeling emotional and in awe of nature’s wonders.

Wildlife Report

June 28, 2023

Isfjorden
Humpback whales, Blue whales, and Minke whales

June 29, 2023

Gnålodden (Hornsund)
Arctic Skuas, bird cliffs, Humpback Whales, and Beluga Whales

June 30, 2023

Kapp Lee (Edgeoya)
Curious Walruses in the water, Reindeer, Walrus haulout

July 02, 2023

Alkefjellet
Bird cliff, Brünnich’s Guillemots, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Arctic Foxes

Lomfjord
Polar Bear encounter

July 03, 2023

Wahlbergøya
Observation of two Polar Bears on the sea ice, hunting scenes, Bearded Seals

July 04, 2023

Narreneset (Raudfjord)
Ptarmigan, gosling of a Barnacle Goose

July 05, 2023

Ytre Norskøya
Puffins, Brent Geese

July 06, 2023

Kongsbreen (Baie du Roi)
Bearded Seals

Ossian Siarsfjellet (Baie du Roi)
Beluga Whales, Reindeer, Ptarmigan, bird cliff

July 07, 2023

Alkhornet (Isfjord)
Arctic foxes, Reindeer, bird cliff, and a lone Walrus on the beach

Itinerary

June 28, 2023

Longyearbyen (Isfjord)

June 29, 2023

Gnålodden (Hornsund)

June 30, 2023

Kapp Lee (Edgeøya)

July 01, 2023

Barents Sea, Bråsvellbreen

July 02, 2023

Torrellneset, Alkefjellet, Lomfjord

July 03, 2023

Falksevagen (Lomfjord), Wahlbergøya

July 04, 2023

Narreneset (Raudfjord)

July 05, 2023

Ytre Norskøya, Bjornfjord

July 06, 2023

Kongsbreen, Ossian Siarsfjellet

July 07, 2023

Alkhornet (Isfjord)

July 08, 2023

Longyearbyen (Isfjord)

Sea Ice Charts

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