Varmlandsryggen, Svalbard, Norway. Photo: Host/Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
4.7
| 15 reviews

Arctic Wilderness Adventure in Svalbard

7 nights
Moderate

Hike, kayak and glacier walk across the wildly beautiful Spitsbergen Island under the midnight sun – eyes peeled for polar bears

What's Included?

Activities & Certified Guides

All itinerary activities with expert, English-speaking, local guides

Hotel & Camping

4 nights in a guesthouse, 3 nights at a wilderness camp

Meals

All breakfasts, 6 lunches, 3 dinners

Equipment

Everything you need to camp, kayak and glacier hike

Permits

All permits and entry fees

Small Like-minded Groups

Solo-friendly by design, join our small n’ sociable groups of up to 10 like-minded, active and outdoorsy people
From

excluding flights

What's it like?

4.7
| 15 reviews
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...
October 2023
Luke
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...
October 2023
Luke
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...
October 2023
Luke
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...
October 2023
Luke
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...
October 2023
Luke
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...
August 2023
Luke
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...
August 2023
Luke
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...
August 2023
Luke
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...
August 2023
Luke
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...
August 2023
Luke
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...
August 2023
Catherine
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...
August 2023
Catherine
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...
August 2023
Catherine
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...
August 2023
Catherine
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...
August 2023
Catherine
What a memorable trip. I can't say enough a...
July 2023
Kristi
Svalbard is epic.

Tucked high into the a...
July 2022
Jon
Svalbard is epic.

Tucked high into the a...
July 2022
Jon
Svalbard is epic.

Tucked high into the a...
July 2022
Jon
Svalbard is epic.

Tucked high into the a...
July 2022
Jon
Svalbard is epic.

Tucked high into the a...
July 2022
Jon
Great Fun. I've never done anything like th...
July 2022
Stephen
Great Fun. I've never done anything like th...
July 2022
Stephen
Great Fun. I've never done anything like th...
July 2022
Stephen
Great Fun. I've never done anything like th...
July 2022
Stephen
Great Fun. I've never done anything like th...
July 2022
Stephen
Varmlandsryggen, Svalbard, Norway. Photo: Host/Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions
Kayaking in Svalbard. Photo: Host/Christopher O'Neil
Glacier walk, Svalbard. Photo: Host/Svalbard Wildlife Adventures

Hike amongst towering fjords and to the top of Fuglefjella, known for its epic seabird colonies, on a true Arctic adventure

Kayak beside majestic walls of ice – looking out for seals, whales and walruses – and clamber across the Esmark Glacier

Take turns on polar bear watch, camp out in the wilderness and brave the ‘polar plunge' – a (quick) dip in the Arctic Ocean

Key Information

Day 1

Arrive in Longyearbyen

Longyearbyen in the midnight sun, Svalbard, Norway. Photo: Host/Svalbard Wildlife Adventures

Touch down in Svalbard – home to Longyearbyen, the world's northernmost city – and get your first glimpse of the Norwegian Arctic. The rest of the day is yours to explore and there are plenty of daylight hours to do so: 24 to be exact! The streets in Longyearbyen have no names, cats are completely banned and reindeer wander freely through the town. Join the rest of the group for a briefing, then grab some dinner in a local restaurant (dinner isn't included today, but your host will book a table for the group so you can get acquainted).

If you arrive early there's plenty to enjoy in Longyearbyen before your trip starts; see the FAQs and Optional Extras below for more information.

Day 2

Get your first taste of hiking in the Arctic

View from Sarkofagen, Svalbard, Norway. Photo: Host/Svalbard Wildlife Adventures

Hiking

3-4hrs · 5km · 405m up · 405m down

Lace up your boots to hike up Sarkofagen Mountain, where you will experience the perfect silence of the Arctic. Enjoy the spectacular views over Longyearbyen, with mountains and glaciers as far as the eye can see, before hiking back down in time for dinner and a good night's rest.

Day 3

Ymerbukta Wilderness Camp and the Esmark Glacier

Svalbard wilderness camp

Kayaking

2-3hrs

The weather in the Arctic can have a big impact: whilst wilderness camping your guides will adjust the plan according to the conditions, so the itinerary as described will remain fluid.

Board a boat to reach the wilderness camp at Ymerbukta – eyes peeled for Arctic wildlife (you may spot polar bears, walruses, seals and up to 13 species of whale – including the blue whale, the largest creature on earth). Settle into camp before embarking on a sea kayaking expedition, providing that conditions are favourable. Hug the shoreline as you make your way to the towering Esmark Glacier. You may even witness the glacier calving, signalled first by a loud, crackling noise like thunder, followed by huge ice falls that create amazing colours and waves in the water. Return to camp, prepare dinner together and end the day around the campfire.

Polar Bear Lookout: Tonight you'll have the unique and unforgettable experience of being on polar bear lookout. After a full safety briefing, keep watch over the silence and stillness of the Arctic wilderness, watching for polar bears in the distance as your fellow adventurers sleep.

Day 4

Glacier hiking

Hiking

1.5hrs

After breakfast, you'll get kitted out with a harness and crampons and head out for a full day of hiking on the Esmark Glacier (weather permitting). Navigate untouched ice, deep crevasses and snow bridges, stopping for lunch on the way to take in the views of the fjords and mountains. Back at camp, it’s time for another dinner by the campfire and a chance to reflect on an incredible day, before pulling your next polar bear lookout shift.

Day 5

Wilderness hiking

Wilderness hiking in Svalbard, Norway. Photo: Host/Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions

Provided conditions are good you'll hike to the peak of Värmlandsryggen for a full Arctic panorama of fjords, mountains, plains and glaciers. Maybe tonight you'll pluck up the courage to take the 'polar plunge' – a quick dip in the ice-cold waters. Later in the evening, savour your last meal around the campfire and pull another polar bear lookout shift as you soak up the unique place you've called home for the last few days.

Day 6

Back to Longyearbyen

Humpback Whale, Svalbard, Norway. Photo: Host/Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions

Clear camp, head out for a short hike and then take the boat back to Longyearbyen. From the water, you'll be able to spot the Russian settlement of Barentsburg along the way, also passing by the abandoned mining town of Grumant and a steep cliff home to thousands of nesting sea birds. In Longyearbyen, you can find a local restaurant for dinner and enjoy a night back in civilisation.

Day 7

Hiking the Fuglefjella bird mountains

Hike to Fuglefjella bird cliffs, Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions

Hiking

5-6hrs · 12km · 500m up · 500m down

After a comfortable night's sleep at Gjestehuset, you'll drive out to Bjørndalen and set foot towards Fuglefjella and Pilarberget – known as the 'bird mountains' thanks to the flocks of birds who nest here during the summer. This spectacle can only be seen in summer, before the birds fly back south in autumn. Hike for a few kilometres, cross a river, then climb steeply up Fuglefjella (look out for reindeer and arctic foxes along the way). Standing atop one of the largest 'bird mountains' in the area, you'll find a wide plateau that plunges into the Isfjorden. On a clear day, you can spot Ymerbukta beyond the fjord.

Day 8

Goodbye, Arctic

Svalbard, Norway. Photo: Host/Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions

Say farewell to Longyearbyen and the Arctic, returning to Svalbard Airport in time for your flight home.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3 – Day 5

Campsite · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6 – Day 7

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Longyearbyen has plenty of restaurants for you to explore with international food options, including the world's northernmost sushi bar!

At the wilderness camp, breakfasts will consist of bread, ham, cheese, eggs and bacon, cereals or oatmeal, tea, coffee and 'polar bread'. Lunches, meanwhile, will be dry-pack expedition-style lunches, heated on stoves in the wilderness and accompanied by hot drinks and biscuits. You can make extra sandwiches each morning to bring with you if you want a particularly large lunch. Dinners will be homemade and vary depending on what ingredients are available: tacos, pasta or a variety of stews are possibilities (including Norwegian reindeer stew).

Vegans, vegetarians and most food allergies can be catered for, but please let your host know of any dietary requirements in advance.

What is the accommodation like?

Gjestehuset 102, Longyearbyen. Photo: Gjestehuset 102
Longyearbyen

You'll stay at Gjestehuset 102, a warm and friendly guesthouse which offers huge breakfasts. Gjestehuset 102 was previously the Millionaires’ Mansion, reserved for the best and most experienced miners. The guesthouse is just a 15-minute walk out of town, and there is also an excellent restaurant opposite.

Wilderness camp, Svalbard. Photo: Customer/Jon Rowlands
In the wilderness

You'll stay in a twin-share tent at a private wilderness camp in Ymerbukta. All your camping equipment is provided, although you will need to bring your own sleeping bag (or hire one from your host). There is a toilet tent as well as a heated expedition mess tent with benches, a table and stoves for cooking and drying clothes. Needless to say, there is no electricity or WiFi at the camp.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, a private room can be booked for the four nights spent in Longyearbyen, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

This trip has been rated as Moderate

You'll need to have a decent level of fitness and a serious sense of adventure. There are several full days of hiking (sometimes using crampons and harnesses) and sea kayaking, though no previous experience of either is necessary. Polar Bear Lookout Each member of the group will take it in turns to lookout for polar bears while the rest of the group sleeps. It doesn't get dark in Svalbard during the summer, so lookouts are done in daylight. The experience of being on lookout is one of the most memorable parts of the trip and has been described as 'like being a crew member on a David Attenborough documentary.'

You'll be given a full briefing and safety instructions, then a shift roster will be developed between you all. Lookout shifts are generally around two hours; however, if your group size is larger than four, you will have at least one night without needing to do one.

While on this trip you will be in the hands of expert wilderness guides. Your host has been operating wildlife expeditions in the area for over 25 years and has never had a close call with a polar bear. This is all down to their knowledge and expertise. There are polar bears in the area and they have come close to camp before, however, the guides know exactly what to do in all cases.

What will I need to carry?

You'll only need to carry a daypack (35+ litres) during the days of activity. Your main luggage will be transported for you.

Svalbard experiences a long period of midnight sun, during which the sun never sets. Average summer temperatures in Svalbard range between 3–7°C (37-44°F), while at certain times during the 'polar summer' it can reach as high as 12°C (54°F). However, it can also see negative temperatures as well, so you also need to be prepared for temperatures down to around -5°C (23°F).

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Guesthouse in Longyearbyen

Catch any flight on Day 1

Ends

Guesthouse in Longyearbyen

Catch any flight on Day 8

Transfers

The airport shuttle costs around £8/$10 and links up with all flight arrivals and departures. It will take you directly to your guesthouse on Day 1 and get you back to the airport any time on Day 8 for your flight home. It takes a maximum of 10 minutes to get from the airport to your accommodation, and you can pay by credit card (cash is not accepted in Svalbard). For more information, see the Svalbard tourism website.

Travel options

Both Norwegian and SAS offers flights to Svalbard Airport (LYR) in Longyearbyen throughout the summer. We recommend flying to Oslo in Norway and getting a connecting flight from Oslo to Svalbard Airport, which takes around three hours.

On some occasions, there is no same-day flight connection from the UK to Svalbard Airport (LYR) on the tour start date (Sunday). If this is the case, we recommend looking at connecting flights departing a day earlier (Saturday) and booking a pre-tour night in Longyearbyen. Alternatively, you might like to split the journey and spend a night in Oslo en route.

If you arrive early there is plenty to enjoy in Longyearbyen before your trip starts. You can also choose from a range of excursions that can be pre-booked with your host in advance: see FAQs and Optional Extras for more information.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's provided?

  • Camping equipment (tent, sleeping mat)
  • Personal glacier equipment (ice axe, crampons, ropes)
  • Personal kayaking equipment (dry suit, neoprene shoes and mittens, life vest, drybag)
  • Thermos flask

What's available to hire?

  • Sleeping bag. See Optional Extras for pricing.

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack (to transport your luggage from the boat to camp - approx. 200m uneven terrain)
  • Daypack (35+ litres)
  • Waterproof cover for rucksack, and/or an extra drybag for the hiking/kayaking

CLOTHES

  • Insulated jacket (down or synthetic/PrimaLoft)
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Hardshell Gore-Tex mountain jacket with hood (breathable, windproof and waterproof)
  • Gore-Tex mountain trousers (breathable, windproof and waterproof)
  • Gaiters (optional)
  • Thermal underwear x 3 sets (preferably wool/merino - no cotton. 1 set to sleep in)
  • Woolen socks x 3 sets (no cotton)
  • Buff
  • Warm hat x 1-2 (for cold/windy days, and also to sleep in)
  • Warm windproof mittens x 1 pair
  • Warm finger gloves x 1 pair
  • Underwear
  • Swimwear (for the polar plunge/Arctic bath)
  • Worn-in waterproof hiking boots, preferably with a stiff sole
  • Light shoes or sandals to use around the camp

SLEEPING

  • 2 to 3-season sleeping bag (Extreme Rating of down to about -15 degrees Celsius, Comfort Rating of about 0 to 5 degrees Celsius - see our Sleeping Bag Guide (either hire one or bring your own)
  • Sleeping mat (provided, but bring your own if you prefer)

OTHER

  • Binoculars (for wildlife spotting)
  • Reusable water bottle x 1-litre (two if you have room)
  • Thermos flask x 1-litre (provided, but bring your own if you prefer)
  • Lunch box (optional - in case you prefer to prepare a sandwich at breakfast to take with you instead of eating the expedition lunch)
  • Sunglasses
  • High SPF suncream
  • Eyemask and earplugs for sleeping
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Camera and spare camera batteries
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Insect repellent (optional, not generally an issue)
  • Personal first-aid kit (including blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks (if you have special preferences - snacks will be provided)
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Optional Private Room Upgrade (4 nights): prices start from

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade (4 nights): prices start from

Per Person

Longyearbyen Excursion: Guided City Walk

Payable Before Departure

Longyearbyen Excursion: Guided City Walk

Per Person

Longyearbyen Excursion: Hike to Plateau Mountain (AM or PM)

Payable Before Departure

Longyearbyen Excursion: Hike to Plateau Mountain (AM or PM)

Per Person

Longyearbyen Excursion: Visit to Coal Mine No. 3 (AM or PM)

Payable Before Departure

Longyearbyen Excursion: Visit to Coal Mine No. 3 (AM or PM)

Per Person

Sleeping bag hire

Payable Before Departure

Sleeping bag hire

Single room: prices start from

Payable Before Departure

Single room: prices start from

Per Night

Twin/Double room: prices start from

Payable Before Departure

Twin/Double room: prices start from

Per Night

Louise W.(July 2024)
This was such an incredible

This was such an incredible trip, I would recommend it to anyone considering booking it. Everything was fantastic, from the guides, the other group members, the wildlife we encountered, the wild camping, the kayaking...... I could go on! As an added personal bonus, one of the guides dogs who accompanied us to camp, appropriately named Gandhi, was such a calm soul he even managed to help me with my phobia of dogs!

Chris(July 2024)
Stop reading reviews, write your own

Stunning place. Wet, cold, windy at times, constant Daylight, poo in a bucket and disturbed sleep. Wouldn’t have changed it for the world! It’s all part of it. The guides will look after you. They have only 2 aims. Making sure you have the time of your life and keeping you safe. They were brilliant (but don’t tell Jonas I said that). I have memories and experiences that will stay with me for ever. I was with a good group but then we all had the same mindset so not surprising we all got on really. Just make sure you give your spoon back!

Rafael D.(July 2024)
Well nice organize, the guides

Well nice organize, the guides were amazing and fit for the job. Amazing week

Luke(October 2023)
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...
Incredible experience

This was a trip of...

Incredible experience

This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such high hopes for this trip having had it booked for two years and it exceeded my expectations.

Svalbard is an incredible place to visit with breath taking views and awe inspiring wildlife and this trip is the best way to see all of it. The glaciers are incredible and the views from the mountain peaks will take your breath away. The activities were varied and although challenging, were incredibly rewarding. Every activity and day were amazing and difficult to pick a single highlight.

I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share this adventure with, it was great how we came together as a team, which was most evident by the final day. Having dinner followed by a game of cards at the end of each day was a great way to wind down. I couldn’t give enough praise to our guide Kaisa who found the perfect balance of making the trip a challenging and rewarding adventure and giving us the opportunity to relax. Her attention to the safety of the group, particularly regarding bear watch was on point. Thank you again for an amazing time and all the best to you and Gandhi.

If you’re reading this considering booking then just do it, you won’t regret it.

Mark(September 2023)

The guide was great and had a dog that came with us. The itinerary is very flexible based on the weather and what the group wants to do. Could spend the whole trip kayaking if wanted. The camp food was really good. It was also not as cold as I was expecting. Still need lots of layers though.

Luke(August 2023)
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...
This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such h...

This was a trip of a lifetime, I had such high hopes for this trip having had it booked for two years and it exceeded my expectations.

Svalbard is an incredible place to visit with breath taking views and awe inspiring wildlife and this trip is the best way to see all of it. The glaciers are incredible and the views from the mountain peaks will take your breath away. The activities were varied and although challenging, were incredibly rewarding. Every activity and day were amazing and difficult to pick a single highlight.

I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share this adventure with, it was great how we came together as a team, which was most evident by the final day. Having dinner followed by a game of cards at the end of each day was a great way to wind down. I couldn’t give enough praise to our guide Kaisa who found the perfect balance of making the trip a challenging and rewarding adventure and giving us the opportunity to relax. Her attention to the safety of the group, particularly regarding bear watch was on point. Thank you again for an amazing time and all the best to you and Gandhi.

If you’re reading this considering booking then just do it, you won’t regret it.

Sarah(August 2023)

It was fun to be able to adventure all day without limitations of the sun setting. It gave us so much extra time to do more hiking, kayaking, and more. Our guide was great and the trip provided peace and calmness that is difficult to find elsewhere. I especially enjoyed getting to kayak through icebergs and hiking and ice climbing on the glacier.

Catherine(August 2023)
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...
A totally phenomenal trip: from start to fi...

A totally phenomenal trip: from start to finish the whole group had an amazing time. The guides were great, but particularly Kaise who was our guide for the camping: she was amazing. Each day seemed to surpass the last with adventure, fun and wildlife. The food was delicious and they catered well for my gluten free diet. This trip will be very difficult to surpass!

Scott(August 2023)

Amazing views and an amazing experience. Would highly recommend. The guide on our trip was super knowledgeable. Made us feel safe even during a polar bear scare (yes, they exist, take the polar bear watch seriously). She made amazing breakfast and dinner. I saw another review that said the guides weren’t very social, but that is because our guide was so busy making sure we were safe and well fed. Bring some cards and you’ll get all the socializing you need. I don’t want to raise expectations unreasonably, but the campsite was better than I thought it would be and I was overall impressed with the professionalism of the company running it. The views are second to none and it really stretched me as an individual. You won’t regret this trip.

Nikolaos(August 2023)

Absolutely incredible all-round experience from beginning to end. The host made us feel like we were on a vacation and took all our needs and wants into consideration in the preparation of our routine and adventures. By far the biggest highlight for me was the hike on the glacier which was truly an amazing activity!

Kristi(July 2023)
What a memorable trip. I can't say enough a...

What a memorable trip. I can't say enough about our guide Niclas. His expertise, local knowledge about the terrain, and attention to the needs/skills of the group made this an awesome experience. It's a small taste of a landscape and way of life not often experienced.

Evan(September 2022)

Svalbard is a really unique place to visit and we are very glad we experienced such a variety of activities here! All told, we covered kayaking, hiking (on quite uncommon surfaces: miles of rock scree and very squishy permafrost), glacier walking, and ice climbing. The barren Arctic rock and ice landscape is likely unlike any you've seen before. The mining-turned-tourist towns you visit (Longyearbyen and Barentsburg) feel like windows into the frontier pasts. The midnight sun will certainly confound your brain. At the camp, the tents were spacious, toilet handled well, and food tasty and plentiful.

As far as execution, compared to other MBA trips with Wild Camping, we felt a few improvements could take this trip from good to great. At the camp, we experienced tent issues with rain water and mud that we were not well equipped to handle (as far as prevention or tools for cleanup). Thanks to the same mud, as well as lack of good seating, the communal tent was not a comfortable place to relax together after activities, which really impedes the bonding of the group on the early days of the trip. Lastly, though very nice and capable, our guides were relatively reserved and quiet, lacking the proactively outgoing personability that really helps a group connect with an area and each other via great conversations and stories about the surroundings.

Jon(July 2022)