A Film – Unearthing the Arctic’s Secrets
‘Svalbard – A journey to the North Pole’ by Denis Barbas
“Being able to swim in the Arctic Ocean in an area so remote and far away from civilization, where very few people have been, surrounded by nothing but the pristine nature, was simply mesmerizing.” – Denis Barbas.
We believe Svalbard to be one of nature’s most exquisite pieces of art, and Denis certainly conveys its beauty in this short film from his Secret Atlas expedition. Close off the outside world, sit comfy and escape to the Arctic through the eyes of Denis and his partner Doina.
Let the adventure begin!
Videographer & Editor: Denis Barbas
Featuring: Denis Barbas & Doina Neculce
Ship: MV Kingfish
Destination: Svalbard | August 2023
Meet Denis and Doina
The Italian couple cut loose from the traditional 9-5 lifestyle and built a career based on their love for the outdoors and adventure. The daunting task of venturing away the securities of employment paid off – they said: “It was by far one of the best decisions we ever made as we’ve never looked back.”
Denis and Doina have travelled the world, sharing stories of their adventures, and in August 2023, they joined our expedition to Svalbard on board MV Kinfish. The couple said: “The remoteness of the place, the untouched nature and the thrilling wildlife made us want to visit this place for so long, and for us, it was a dream come true.”
A few words from Denis and Doina…
Tell us about your expedition Highlights
One of the most unexpected and unforgettable experiences of the trip was the Polar plunge. Swimming in the Arctic Ocean in an area so remote and far away from civilization, where very few people have been, surrounded by nothing but pristine nature, was simply mesmerizing.
Another experience that amazed us was the landing on the iceberg. We didn’t expect actually to walk on a floating iceberg! We felt a strong connection with nature when we stepped on it, surrounded by breathtaking views and natural wonders. We could hear the distant calls of seabirds, seals and walruses and the sound of the ice crunching beneath our feet, a once-in-a-lifetime experience we’ll never forget.
(All our expeditions are aligned with nature; please note that not all activities and experiences may be possible on every voyage)
We encountered a polar bear, which was a stand-out moment. I believe it’s everyone’s goal when coming on these trips, as not many people get to see a polar bear in real life. After a few days of scouting and exploring, not seeing any traces of a polar bear made us a bit worried, but at the same time, we wanted to find one even more, so we were always scouting on the deck in the hope of finally seeing one – that was one of the best ways to spend our days onboard I must say. Then, when the moment arrived, and we finally spotted our first polar bear, the emotions were stronger than expected. We never thought we could be so close to a polar bear in real life, and yet there it was, standing right in front of our zodiac, feeding on a whale carcass, swimming and playing right in front of our eyes. It’s an experience we’ll never forget.
How’s life without access to the internet?
One of the best things about the whole trip was in fact the disconnection from the internet; the detox from social media allowed us to be present in the moment and appreciate every single second of the trip. It felt so good. We felt so connected with nature and wildlife.
What’s it like on a small ship expedition?
I believe exploring the polar regions on a small ship in a small group means less pressure on the Arctic ecosystem. You’re able to get to places where other ships can’t. You form a stronger connection with the crew and the guests on board as you always go out together, eat together and spend your time scouting for wildlife together.
If you could give one piece of advice for future Secret Atlas guests, what would it be?
Make sure to follow the guides and not wander off alone. Most of all, to respect wildlife and to dispose of all waste properly, minimizing the impact on the fragile environment. A small piece of waste could be fatal for the ecosystem in ways we can’t imagine.
Another piece of advice is to live in the moment, be present and enjoy every second of the trip. It’s not every day that you get to hear a polar bear eating and breathing in front of you or the funny sounds the walruses make when they come to your zodiac, as well as the beautiful singing of the birds.
What have you left this expedition learning?
We saw how the climate change is affecting all of us. In the polar regions, it’s causing sea ice to shrink, threatening the arctic wildlife, and at the same time, rising sea levels directly impact coastal cities, which are at risk of flooding. Both people and wildlife are connected now even more than we can imagine.
On our expedition, we happened to find a plastic bottle in the Arctic Sea, it was particularly concerning seeing plastic pollution in some of the most remote and pristine environments on Earth. That made us realise and see with our own eyes how dangerous human actions can be to our fragile ecosystem. We were lucky to have a fantastic crew onboard, who spotted the bottle from the deck and turned the ship around to retrieve it. As the ship started to turn around, some of us began to wonder if we had a problem and the trip was coming to an end sooner than expected. Everyone was amazed to see that we only turned around to retrieve the plastic bottle, such a small action that has a huge impact on keeping our oceans clean. A true definition of how our smallest actions can have a huge impact on our ecosystem and how important it is to take care of our planet with our daily actions – now more than ever.