Journey around Svalbard’s majestic islands in search of the polar bear on an small bit mighty expedition ship fit for discerning travellers who want to experience the Arctic by ship, without feeling like a tourist.
In September 2020 we’ll journey with 12 intrepid guests around some of the most majestic islands of the Arctic, on the lookout for whales, polar bears, walruses, arctic foxes, and much more.
This expedition with highly acclaimed pro photographers – Tommy Simonsen and Rod Thomas – is a voyage like no other. It’s a truly bespoke opportunity to experience and photograph these animal’s fragile world in an intimate and comfortable expeditionary setting.
Not to mention hiking across the tundra, taking in colossal glaciers crackling under the Autumn sun, and gazing up at jagged peaks that relatively few have laid eyes upon.
We’ve chosen September for this voyage as it’s the best time of the season for changing light as Svalbard heads toward the long Arctic winter. With luck, the sea ice will be positioned far enough south to offer us good opportunities for polar bear sightings.
In Svalbard, Nature is Queen.
YOUR EXPEDITION SHIP
Guests will travel on board the newly refurbished ship, the R/V Kinfish, an excellent polar vessel that offers big ship sophistication in a small ship package.
She offers comfortable, tastefully appointed twin cabins (both lower berths), two common lounges and a large dining area.
lots of outer deck space for wildlife photography
a mudroom for your wet outer gear
an open bridge policy with 360° views
two huge viewing screens in the upper lounge which can be used to review photos at the end of the day
Come and experience Svalbard in style, comfort, and class without taking away from the real expeditionary feel.
WHY WE LOVE THIS SHIP
Her spacious forward & rear decks low to the water – ideal for getting closer to wildlife on the ice –
and a bird’s nest in the front for getting those high up panorama shots
A mudroom for your outdoor wet/muddy field clothes and boots so you leave them in a warm, protected space just off the main deck rather than bring it in to your clean suite
Extra electrical outlets in the suites and common areas for charging camera batteries and laptops
Her compact size means we can avoid the competing interest groups of the larger ships and just do what we really want to do!
DATES: Sept 17th – 27th, 2020
RATE: 8500 EUR per guest for a twin share
*The rate is per passenger based on shared cabins. If you prefer a suite to yourself, the rate is 1.8x the cost quoted above.
PASSENGERS: Twelve (plus two expedition guides + your photo guides)
LANGUAGE: The official language of the tour will be English
READY TO BOOK, OR HAVE A QUESTION WE CAN HELP YOU WITH?
Use the contact form below to get in touch and we’ll send you the current availability + Booking Form asap.
Sept 17th – Embarkation day:
Board the Kinfish at
4pm from the dock in Longyearbyen and enjoy a welcome cocktail with the captain.
Sept 18th through 26th – Expedition days:
While there is a carefully planned daily schedule based on distances between points of interest and the location of the ice in any given season, our timetable in Svalbard by nature must be flexible.
We usually begin by heading North towards the ice edge which is a great place to scout for polar bears, but that’s not the only goal. We’ll use our planned itinerary as a rough guide so that every day the conditions are maximized for the best wildlife watching opportunities, be they land or sea-based.
Every morning your Expedition Leader will work with the bridge officers to make decisions about the day, taking into account ice situation and the weather, looking at whether Plan A makes the most sense or if Plan B, C, or D will be better for us. If we come across something amazing, we would never just pull the plug because we have something else “scheduled” for the afternoon. While the captain has final say on all decisions made, we will always check in with the group and take into account your wishes.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Svalbard has a little bit of everything, including massive scenic fjords from which artfully sculpted glaciers emerge to meet the sea, up to the high snowcapped peaks, and all the way down to Arctic tundra covered in colourful vegetation such as mosses and lichens that the Svalbard reindeer love to feed on. It’s not uncommon to find seals or walruses resting on ice floes at the mouths of these fjords, and if we’re lucky, we’ll spot a whale or two as we sail up the west coast.
We’ll plan to stop in at the world’s northernmost civilian settlement, the research village of Ny Ålesund, which also boasts the world’s northernmost post office. At the height of the summer season, there are about 120 inhabitants working amongst the 15 permanent research stations.
It’s from here that Amundsen and Nobile initiated their courageous attempts to reach the North Pole by airship, and there are a couple of monuments dedicated to their efforts that are worth visiting.
From there we’ll continue heading north, poking into other landing sites and fjords of interest, getting out into the two zodiacs to make landings where we’ll plan hikes to stretch our legs and optimize our chances for excellent wildlife opportunities.
To the Right you can see a sample Svalbard itinerary, but please keep in mind that our actual route will be entirely dependent on weather and ice conditions at the time of sailing. >>>>>
We’ll be constantly scouting for these beautiful Arctic bears – Ursus maritimus in Latin – and if we find them, get as close as we can without disturbing them or putting passengers at any risk. Again, getting out into the inflatable zodiacs is an excellent way to safely observe the wildlife from proximity.
Weather and ice conditions permitting, we’ll sail into Hinlopen Strait and plan to visit Alkefjellet (‘Bird Mountain’), a series of otherworldly basalt cliffs stretching a number of kilometres in length and in some places, up to 100 meters high, (click on the underlined text to see an amazing video!) on which we’ll find thousands of nesting birds and the occasional Arctic fox hunting nearby.
Nordauslandet, Bråsvellbreen, Barentsøya, and Edgeøya are all locations that we may also explore, weather and ice permitting, and offer magnificent scenery with vast tundra which hold the prospect of continued incredible landscapes and wildlife sighting opportunities.
During the entire expedition, we’ll be on the lookout for polar bears, which can be spotted on land just as often as on the sea ice. There are an estimated 3000-4000 animals in the region and the population is considered to be stable. This powerful animal is amazing to behold in the wild, with males weighing up to 700kg when they are at their healthiest.
Sept 27th – Disembarkation day:
Disembark in Longyearbyen around 8:00am
What guests are saying…
“As we look upward 500 feet onto the blue and white dome, we are in awe of the earth’s secrets that this ice cap has recorded for millennia. As we approach the bear by zodiac, the only sound we hear is the pounding of our heart. The animals are curious about humans and sometimes approach, rather than flee.
Our ship, the R/V Kinfish was perfectly comfortable, perfectly hospitable, and perfectly suited to navigating the narrowest inlets that provide unparalleled vistas of the Arctic wonders. Not only were our Twin Tracks guides, Rickard and Heather, exceptionally knowledgeable about where to make safe landings that offered incredible accessibility to the wildlife, but they also clearly demonstrated the key qualities of professional guides: competence, experience, and passion. They love their work and ensured personalized attention to each person in our group.”
David Hwa, US – Guest on board the August 2018 expedition, traveling with his son
SPECIAL GUEST PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDES
Photography Guide + Ambassador for Fujifilm Nordic
Tommy Simonsen (48) hails from the heart of Northern Norway, the picturesque city of Harstad, and has been working with travel and documentary/landscape photography professionally since 1998, as well as portrait photography since 1992. An active outdoor person since childhood, he’s had cameras with him in the field since 1990. Tommy started his photography career working over ten years as a photographer for Northern Norway’s largest publishing company, To-Foto, a job that gave him local knowledge of most of the exciting parts of the northern region, but also Greenland, Iceland and Antarctica. His pictures were used mainly in book productions: books on Lofoten, North Cape, The Norwegian Costal Liner and many more. In 1999 he was sent to a new location to take pictures for his first time, a mission that turned out to be a real turning point in his career: he fell totally in love! In love with the beautiful and dramatic scenery on the last outpost in the north, the archipelago of Svalbard at 78 degrees north.
This was the first of many journeys to Svalbard. Those first travels ended in a book and a booklet about this Arctic archipelago. In 2006 he took a year of leave from the publishing company to work as a dog handler and guide for Svalbard Villmarkssenter. There he worked in the field with more than 100 huskies, his camera with him at all times. That year affirmed clearly his love for this scenic landscape and people of the north.
Though Tommy went back to his old job in 2007, he continued to focus on Northern Norway, Antarctica, and Svalbard (of course). In 2008 he started a new job as photo teacher at Soltun Folkhighschool, a teaching a groundbreaking new course that he developed. Not an ordinary photo class, but a one-year photography course, which specialized in travel and expedition photography: Backpack Photo. As the only teacher in a class of no more than 11 students, he used northern Norway and Svalbard as their classroom with practical field courses from August to February. But that was just a starting point: each year a five-to-six week long exotic field expedition was planned that went deep into the culture of the country that was selected, with new locations added each year.
This has taken Tommy to Central America, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Patagonia, Antarctica, Kenya, Uganda, Laos, Vietnam, Madagascar, Indonesia and Singapore over the last seven years. All this experience has given him one of three places in the qualifying examination board for photography students in Troms county.
From summer of 2015 he has been working full time as a photographer at his business, Kvitebjørn Foto (White Bear Photography) guiding international workshops in Northern Norway and spending as much time as possible in Svalbard.
From 2016, Tommy has been an Official Ambassador for Fujifilm Nordic, testing their kit to the max in harsh conditions and doing lectures for Fujifilm.
Born and raised on The Central Coast, NSW, Australia, Rod got his first camera at the age of 15 mainly to take pictures of his friends surfing. It was at that moment he knew he wanted to be a photographer of some sort.
As time went on Rod gradually brought more camera gear and sold some older equipment to fund his camera addiction. He travelled to Europe when he was 25 years old and that only enhanced what he wanted to do…and that was take photos.
After returning from Europe, Rod brought a Linhof 617SIII which is a specialized panoramic film camera and it was like falling in love again…
Rod never fell out of love with photography, but using this camera made him appreciate it more as it was fully manual. It had no batteries and no metering system and it really made you stop and think about what you were doing when taking photos. It was a match made in heaven.
The travelling and guiding side of what does do is what he loves most about being a photographer. Whether it be watching his groups witness their first ever Northern Lights experience, huge Bull Elk at first light in Yellowstone or chasing tornados in the middle of America, he never get tired of seeing his clients enjoying themselves.
Rod has been guiding groups in Norway, Slovenia, New Zealand, Italy, USA and Australia for the last 7 years and it has allowed him to make friends all over the world, for which he is forever grateful.
The video side of photography, in particular DRONE use, is now a huge interest for Rod and something he’s really passionate about. He’s currently using the LUMIX range of cameras and DJI drones to shoot with.
The Kinfish owners, captain and crew have over two decades of combined experience in Svalbard and are commited to delivering a best-in-class experience, keeping safety and environmental protection in mind.
This wonderful small ship is being purpose-retrofit for custom groups like wildlife enthusiasts and photographers, adding a number of features to modernize the ship for the digital age as well as ensuring she is the most comfortable small ship option in Svalbard with all lower berths and all en suite cabins.
Below you can view the deck plan, as well as a typical suite layout.
INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:
All nights onboard the Kinfish
All meals onboard the vessel (including non-alcoholic drinks as coffee, tea, water and breakfast juice)
- House wine + beer with lunch and dinner
Expedition leader + guide, as well as ship’s crew
Excursions with two Mark V Zodiac boats
NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:
All flights to and from Svalbard (Longyearbyen)
Overnight accommodation before + after the expedition
Premium alcohol + souvenirs purchased onboard
Tips for the vessel’s crew members (not required but recommended)
Cancellation/trip interruption + medical evacuation insurance
YOUR EXPEDITION GUIDES
Polar Expedition Leader, Dog Musher, Kayak Guide
Rickard is a seasoned Expedition Leader from Sweden. He began his professional guiding career when he was hired by a kennel in Svalbard in the Norwegian high Arctic. He worked four winter seasons there as a dog musher and ice cave guide, followed by two seasons as a dogsled instructor for the British Army in their winter adventure training in Canada‘s Rocky Mountains.
He is one of a small number of mushers who have traversed Svalbard by dogsled (with 5 guests in tow and 55 dogs) multiple times. Rickard’s passion for tough adventures has also led him to work as a kayak guide for long expeditions along Greenland’s northwest coast. Furthermore he’s had the privilege of standing on the North Pole 5 times.
Rickard is educated as a ships officer and professional wilderness guide, and has spent the last decade working on expedition ships in Norway, Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica.
His love of polar history and his enthusiasm for storytelling mean that there is rarely a dull moment when on expedition with Rickard.
Passport – Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of travel and you are responsible for any visa required to enter Norway/the Schengen Zone. If you are unsure whether you need a visa to travel to Svalbard, please consult this list of countries.
Health requirements – you must be in reasonable health and have a reasonable level of mobility in order to join the expedition. The voyage is on board a ship and at times, the sea may be rough. This requires a degree of balance and agility so that you may safely move around the vessel. Also keep in mind that at times, we may offer a hike on land (which will always be optional).
Insurance Requirements – as the nature of our expedition involves visiting the remote wilderness, we require all passengers to take out appropriate trip interruption/cancellation and medical evacuation insurance. If you need assistance finding a travel insurance company, contact us using the contact form below and we can help.
What to bring – Based on our combined years of experience braving the wilds of Svalbard, we’ve created a handy PDF packing list that you can download here. Please note that rubber boots and waterproof pants + jacket are all required to participate in landings in Svalbard.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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What are the cabins like?
All cabins are appointed with equal Scandinavian sophistication. All cabins have en suite bathrooms, closets, and two lower berths.
Can you accommodate dietary needs?
Absolutely. We can accommodate any dietary requirement as long as we know in advance.
Will we see polar bears?
We certainly plan to! But as with all things in nature, these are wild animals that can travel very fast over both land and ice. Our expert expedition staff and bridge crew have decades of combined experience in this region and will use their expertise as well as regular communication with other vessels in the region to find out where polar bears have been sighted and will head to those areas.
We’ll also have someone on polar bear watch at all hours of the day from the bridge. In other words, we will do everything we can to find bears and go to get a closer look. The benefits of sailing on such a small ship are two-fold: 1) being small we can maneuver close to the animals without disturbing them – thus giving you the best opportunity to photograph them 2) the ship can change plans on a dime and head full speed towards something of interest.
What kind of footwear do I need?
For onboard the ship you need something comfortable, with grip, that you can slip in and out of. Any casual shoe should be fine. For zodiac excursions and landings you are required to wear rubber boots. This is because all landings are “wet landings” meaning you will be stepping into freezing cold water and rubber boots are the only safe option to keep you dry. For hiking, you can bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots or shoes to change into from your rubber boots.
If you’d like to rent rubber boots locally in Longyearbyen and save the extra space in your suitcase for other things, please let us know at the time of booking and we can help you out!
What type of electrical outlets are on board?
The electrical outlets will be standard European style as pictured below. You may need to bring electrical converters with you in order to charge your equipment. The voltage on board is 220v.
Do I need to bring cash with me?
You can bring some cash if you like to pay for premium alcoholic beverages on board (non-premium alcohol is included). Payments can be accepted in cash (EUROS, USD or SEK) or by credit card. A final consideration is the non-mandatory tipping of the crew. If you feel you have received good service and wish to tip the crew at the end of the journey, bring some extra cash along.
TERMS + CONDITIONS and HOW TO BOOK
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How to book
Terms and Conditions
GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS
§ 1 Reservations and payment
1.1 Registration is completed and binding when Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc has received a signed Booking Form, which includes acceptance of these General Terms and Conditions, and the deposit amount of 2,000 EUROS per person.
1.2 The remaining portion of the travel price shall be paid in two installments; 50% of the travel price shall be paid no later than 195 days prior to departure date and the remaining balance no later than 100 days prior to departure date. Any partial or full fare not received within the deadlines outlined in this paragraph may result in the booking being canceled by Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc, in which case all amounts paid shall be forfeited.
1.3 If a booking is made three months or less before the departure date, the full price shall be paid in connection with the booking.
1.4 Payments must be made in EUROS by bank transfer as per the instructions on the Booking Form. Paying in USD is also possible if requested at the time of placing the deposit. The exchange rate shall be the amount stipulated at the date of payment at http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/, plus an additional 5% in favor of Twin Tracks (to cover banking fees and exchange rates) or such other amount as may from time to time be determined by Twin Tracks.
§ 2 Travel details
2.1 Voyage description and itinerary for each voyage, as well as other details for the travel and information as regards health requirements, insurance requirements, visa and other immigration issues and other, can be found on Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc’s website: www.kinfish.twintracksexpeditions.com. All information on the website is part of the agreement between Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc and the traveler.
2.2 The Traveler is responsible for fulfilling all requirements, including having a valid passport and necessary visas and other documentation, and for being able to carry out the trip, as well as for all injuries that he/she may incur during the trip. The Traveler is required to have insurance covering cancellation or trip interruption costs as well as medical evacuation costs. Any failure by the Traveler to comply with this provision and/or to provide proof of compliance with this provision 14 days prior to the departure, shall result in the cancelation of the trip and forfeiture of all amounts paid by the Traveler to Twin Tracks as liquidated damages.
2.3 Consumption of alcoholic beverages brought on board by the Traveler is not allowed unless expressly agreed upon beforehand with Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc.
2.4 It is not allowed to fly any UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones) on ships operated by members of AECO or IAATO. As regards other non-member ships, the flying of UAV’s may be permitted but requires approval beforehand from Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc and shall under all circumstances be subject to local authorities’ restrictions and regulations.
2.5 Since the travel will take place out in the wilderness of nature, security is vital. The Traveler is aware of and accepts that adhering to safety routines and obeying the guides’ instructions is of critical importance. The Traveler acknowledges and accepts the inherent risks associated with arctic and remote expedition travel which may include bodily injury, risk of death and/or mental stress, anguish, and fatigue.
2.6 The travel is construed as a group travel, meaning that the price is based upon group participation. No refund will be made by Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc in the event a Traveler chooses not to participate in all parts of the program or if a traveler withdraws from the trip prematurely, irrespective of reason.
§ 3 Traveler’s cancellation
3.1 A Traveler must notify Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc in writing of any cancellation. In case cancellation is made more than 195 days prior to departure date, the traveler forfeits 200 EUROS or 10% of the deposit amount. In case cancellation is made less than 195 days prior to the departure date, the full fare that you have paid at the time of cancellation will be forfeited. All payments made by you are non-refundable in the case of your canceling your participation.
3.2 In order to minimize loss in the event of trip cancellation or interruption, each traveler is required to secure trip cancellation and interruption insurance as well as medical evacuation insurance for the period of travel in question. Any failure to comply with this provision that is not remedied within 14 days prior to the departure date shall result in the cancellation of the trip and forfeiture of all amounts paid to Twin Tracks as liquidated damages.
§ 4 Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc’s cancellation or alteration
4.1 The travels arranged by Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc are carried out in remote parts of the world where weather and ice conditions are extreme and unpredictable, and where unforeseen events outside the control of Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc may occur, requiring Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc to quickly adapt to new circumstances. Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc thus reserves the right to cancel, or, as the case may be, change the conditions for the travel or change the itinerary either before or during the trip. Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc always strive for making the voyage as best as possible for the travelers and a decision to cancel an initial plan or change the travel conditions (travel dates, travel route, etc) will always be made in the interests of the travelers and with safety in mind.
4.2 If the minimum number of travelers as listed in the voyage description is not met, Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc has the right to cancel the voyage. Such cancellation shall be notified to the travelers no later than 90 days prior to departure date. In case cancellation is made according to this paragraph, Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc shall repay all payment made from travelers but shall have no further obligations in relation to the Traveler.
4.3 Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc shall never be liable to pay any compensation (for airfares, visas, insurance or other) or damages because of a canceled or changed travel if:
(a) the cancellation or change of a travel is caused by the Traveler;
(b) reason for the cancellation is that the minimum number of registered travelers as stated in the voyage description is not met, and the cancellation has been notified in writing to the Traveler;
(c) the cancellation or change of the travel is due to a circumstance which was beyond the control of Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc’s and the occurrence of which were not possible to avoid or overcome, would create safety risks or are not economically reasonable to remedy; or
(d) the liability to pay damages cannot be considered reasonable.
§ 5 Price changes
5.1 Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc reserves the right to change the price for the trip due to fluctuations in currency or fuel costs or due to changes in taxes or fees which affect Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc’s costs for the travel. A potential increase in price should not exceed more than 350 EUROS per passenger, and if implemented, must legally be communicated to the passengers no later than 20 days before the voyage departure.
§ 6 Liability limitations
6.1 Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any loss or damage to any property or for any injury, illness or death to any person in the tour which results from any contact with or service provided by any agent, contractor, supplier or provider, nor for any such loss, damage, injury, illness or death if it occurs in transit to or from the tour.
§ 7 Complaints
7.1 If the Traveler considers Twin Track Expeditions Inc’s services to be deviating from what is agreed, the traveler must notify Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc in writing thereof immediately after having noticed such deviation. If not notifying Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc within this time, or notifying Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc more than one month after finishing the trip, the Traveler may not invoke any deviations from the agreement in relation to Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc.
§ 8 Applicable law
8.1 Canadian law shall govern the agreement between Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc and the Traveler.
These General Terms and Conditions are applicable to all bookings of travels from:
Twin Tracks Expeditions Inc. 5031 Barron Cres NW Calgary, AB T2L 1T8 Canada