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Sarah's Guest Story – Secret Atlas Review

Sarah’s Guest Story – Secret Atlas Review

Sarah joined Secret Atlas on Svalbard Photo Tour in May 2023.

I first visited the Svalbard archipelago almost 15 years ago. Since then so much has changed: ships are larger and more numerous; wilderness areas are increasingly accessible; and a changing climate is altering the landscape and animal behaviour.

What remains the same is the sheer beauty of the place – the spiky snow-capped mountains, never-ending valleys and skies that shift between a palette of pastel pinks and icy blues. The possibility of finding foxes, reindeer, walrus and – of course – polar bears in this environment brings me back again and again.

Zodiac Cruise in Svalbard

But after eight visits, I’ve come to realize there’s only one way I want to travel – and that’s on a small ship.

A recent May voyage with Secret Atlas reminded me why I first fell in love with Svalbard. Every day was an adventure, ducking into remote bays and scouring ice floes for signs of life. With only 12 guests we could change plans with minimum fuss, shifting silently through waters without disturbing the sense of solitude that makes the polar regions so special.

Guests in front of walrus in a zodiac in Svalbard

Guides John and Mette are veterans of the ice with decades of experience between them. Their expertise, careful judgements and colourful storytelling made this a true expedition in an industry where that word has been criminally diluted and overused.

Having seen, heard and sensed so many wildly new things, I ended the trip knowing we’d made the most of every opportunity. The only thing missing was Sir David Attenborough’s soothing voice narrating scenes that would easily have made the director’s cut.

Zodiac cruise along the fast ice in Svalbard

As a writer and photographer, I left feeling inspired, invigorated and reassured by the knowledge there are people who treat this fragile environment responsibly.

I honestly don’t think there could be a better way to explore and respect one of my favourite places on earth.

Polar bear hunting reindeer in Svalbard

Inspired by Sarah’s story? Let Secret Atlas take you on your very own voyage into the wilderness and experience the natural wonders of the polar regions. Join our newsletter and find out everything you need to know to book your next adventure. 

We hope to see you on board!

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