SVALBARD: SNOWSCOOTER EXPEDITION


A PHOTO TOUR IN COOPERATION WITH STARLING TOURS

Svalbard is the ultimate dream destination for everyone who adores arctic nature. Most of them explore this unspoilt area during summer from an expedition vessel. But did you know that you can also go here in wintertime? We travel into the icy landscape with a snow scooter to take fantastic shots. Do you like endless snow plains, are you an experienced nature photographer and is adventure high on your list? Then this trip is for you!

 

Tour dates

29th March to 6th April 2021

 

Group Size

8 people (7 min/8 max)

 

Condition

Moderate to intense, and cold!

 

Price

6290 euro

SCHEDULE

29/03: Flight to Longyearbyen. The flights are not included, the overnight stay on arrival is.

30/03: Searching for reindeers, ptarmigan and arctic foxes! We learn how to use our snow scooters and zoom in on the fauna we find around the village.

31/03: We continue our search for reindeer, ptarmigan and arctic foxes, followed by a visit to the Tempelfjord. We spend the night in Piramiden.

01/04: We explore Billefjorden and the northern region. We spend the night in Piramiden again.

02/04: We return to Longyearbyen and spend a quiet evening together.

03/04 – 04/04: Depending on the weather conditions, we organize a day or night trip to the east coast. We also spend the night there.

05/04: We drive back to Longyearbyen for the last supper and return home the same night! The overnight stay here is included to rest and refresh.

06/04: Return flight home! The flights are not included in the price.


WHITE NATURE

Svalbard is covered in snow almost 6 months a year. The deep fjords are frozen and the coasts are surrounded by ice fields. Not the best time of the year to sail a boat, but ideal for moving around safely and comfortably with a snow scooter.

As soon as you step off the plane at the small airport of Longyearbyen, you feel the cold air hit your lungs. This will be our playground for the upcoming week! Fortunately, we have warm clothes to protect us. The animals that survive in these harsh conditions must make do with their fur or feathers. An extreme example of nature that you can only respect!


SCARCE WINTER VISITORS

The diversity of species in polar regions is generally limited during winter, while most summer guests head for warmer places in the south. Only a few brave animals stay in their beloved Svalbard all year round.

Hardly any birds are residents, except for the Svalbard subspecies of rock ptarmigans. They’re perfectly camouflaged with their white plumage and feathered legs. We also see reindeer here and there, and might spot the beautiful arctic foxes in their white winter fur. On the ice, we look for different species of seal. This is the polar bear‘s hunting ground, so we also hope to get this ferocious predator within camera range.

If the weather is good, flocks of little auks may fly past their breeding cliffs in large groups and make a lot of noise. The first birdsong to be heard after a long, silent winter.


ARCTIC LIGHT AND TEMPERATURES

We are at 78° north latitude. In April, the sun comes out for several hours over the rugged mountain ridges. During the night it doesn’t really get dark anymore. Mornings and evenings, in particular, offer a magical spectacle during the ‘blue hour’.

We enjoy low sunlight, but at the same time, it can still snow! In short: a breathtaking snow panorama with species that appeal to the imagination in photogenic light. Sound like heaven to you? It is!


PHOTOGRAPHY: WHITE ON WHITE

During this trip, our primary aim is to photograph white subjects. White on white photography, as most of the animals still have their winter plumage. Because of the beautiful setting, we don’t zoom in on the animals too much, but mainly photograph them in the landscape. Lenses within a range of 70-200 mm are often more than sufficient. Do you want a real close-up? Then use a 500 mm lens.

Of course, we keep a safe distance from polar bears! I will help you to find the well-camouflaged animals, explain how to light up your pictures in these circumstances and how to protect your gear against the cold.

Depending on the weather conditions and the availability of photo subjects, we take trips in the snowmobile for several hours, with an afternoon break in a warm coffee shop. Tours can start very early and end late, to maximize our opportunities with the light.

The first days we photograph close to Longyearbyen, while we learn to ride the snowmobile. On the third day, we visit a fjord with a beautiful glacier front. Here, we mainly expect seals and maybe polar bears. During the last 2 days or nights, we plan 2 long trips to the east coast or other fjords. If there is enough light at night, we go out because the chances for polar bears are greater!


CLIMATE, CLOTHING AND GEAR

Despite the northern location of Svalbard, the climate can be quite mild compared to other places on the same latitude. This is due to the warm Gulf Stream. Of course, it’s still winter, so sufficient warm clothing is needed.

The biggest cold is felt while moving around on open vehicles, sometimes photographing for hours in subzero temperatures. That’s why we’ll make sure you have thick winter suits, warm snow boots, snow goggles, a balaclava, thick mittens and a helmet when you get on the snow scooter. All you have to bring is some warm layers to wear underneath.


ACCOMMODATION

Our base is a cosy guesthouse just outside the centre of Longyearbyen. We stay in single or double rooms with shared bathrooms and toilets. There is also a TV room and wifi throughout the guesthouse. The house gives us quick access to various photography locations.

Breakfast is offered in the guesthouse, but we visit cosy eating places in the centre of Longyearbyen or Piramiden for lunch and dinner – depending on where we sleep. During day or night tours we bring food to warm up on location.

During our trip to the east coast, we spend a night in a tent camp with night surveillance. All the needed equipment (tents, warm sleeping bags, mats) is included.

Note: In case of very challenging weather conditions, accommodation in Longyearbyen remains guaranteed.


TRANSPORT

We travel by snowmobile. Everyone has their own scooter, but you can choose to ride with someone else if you prefer. We’ll explain in detail how they work on the first day. Building up our experience, you’ll be able to drive further every day and eventually all the way up to the east coast. Our bags and gear are attached to the back of the snowmobile.

Flights are not included in the price. When departure is guaranteed, you’ll receive a non-binding flight proposal, but feel free to book your flights yourself.


SPOT LOCATION


INCLUDED

All camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear, …), drinking water, excursions and entrance tickets, all meals, overnight stays, local transport, nature and photography guides, satellite phone and security armament, insurance guarantee fund

NOT INCLUDED

Alcoholic beverages, extra nights, franchise insurance for damage to your snowmobile (450 euro), international flights and airport taxes, personal expenses, travel insurance, cancellation insurance, visa fees (if applicable).

 

TESTIMONIALS


They joined me on my last phototour and it was lots of fun ! Thank you to them for their trust.
  • I certainly recommend a trip with Yves. He’s not only an excellent photographer but also an excellent tour guide. He’s very social, speaks a lot of languages and is very pragmatic and hands-on. He takes care of his people during the entire trip.
    Carl Verstraelen, Belgium
  • I undertook no less than 16 (!) photo trips with this guy, starting in 2012. Why? All I can say is that I have a lot of beautiful images. Yves provides all the right photo opportunities and my skills have increased considerably. Everything I expect from a trip as a photographer is there. Just see for yourself and book a trip, you won’t regret it!
    Julien Herremans, Belgium
  • Yves knows a lot about Svalbard! He is very helpful, has expertise of photography and equipment, loves a good joke and is a very kind person.
    Alex Boel, Belgium
  • I met Yves in Norway. His humor and optimism was infectious! He gives the best of himself and brings out the best in you as a photographer. Travelers get lots of space to do their thing!
    Regi Popelier, Belgium
  • Yves has lots of patience with his group and plenty of knowledge about wildlife and landscape photography.
    Wim De Baets, Belgium
  • We join Yves every year since we first met him! His social skills, his knowledge of the environment he explores, his possibility to adapt to changing situations and the fact that he will never put his team in danger: trips with Yves are smooth and hassle-free!
    Bert Van Der Krieken & Kristien Van Acker, Belgium
  • We always delight in traveling with Yves. He does his best to satisfy the travelers every single time and is very responsible for the group. The trips are always perfect!
    Pascale Carrette & Bas Talpe, Belgium

Looking for more information? Would you like to join me on this tour?

GET IN TOUCH