Located far above the Arctic Circle, the 191 islands that make up Franz Josef Land are some of the most remote and under-explored locales on earth. Discovered only 150 years ago, this volcanic, glaciated archipelago was once a major stopping point for famous polar explorers making the dangerous (and often deadly) passage to the North Pole. Join Jill Worrall, international tour operator and award-winning travel writer, who will lead the 15-day voyage. Enjoy views of rugged icebergs and glacier-capped peaks as you cruise north through the Barents Sea. Discover the vast array of wildlife, from nesting auks to rare whale species to colonies of walrus. This MIR Corporation excursion is slated for July 4-18, 2018 and starts at $12,695. For more info, visit http://www.mircorp.com/trip/a-special-journey-to-remote-franz-josef-land/
Days 1-2: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Arrive in Longyearbyen, the Arctic adventure capital of the Norwegian territory of Svalbard. Meet your travel companions at a welcome dinner. After a hotel night, embark aboard the expedition ship, M/V Sea Spirit.
Days 3-4: Across the Barents Sea
The ship proceeds south around Svalbard and then east to Franz Josef Land across the Barents Sea. In these far northern latitudes, there can be sea ice any time of the year. Keep a lookout for ice-dependent marine mammals such as the bowhead whale, various Arctic seal species, and the majestic polar bear.
Days 5-11: Explore Franz Josef Land
The archipelago, part of the Russian Arctic National Park since 2012, is a nature sanctuary. Polar bears and other high Arctic wildlife – such as walruses and some rare whale species – can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Franz Josef Land. Scree slopes and cliffs around the islands host enormous nesting colonies of migratory seabirds, such as guillemots, dovekies, and ivory gulls. In the 24-hour daylight of the Arctic summer, you’ll discover the shores by sea kayak and Zodiak, and you’ll land at various islands to explore on foot.
Days 12-13: Cruise along the coasts of Svalbard
Cross back through the bountiful waters of the Barents Sea and then along the coastal islands of the Svalbard Archipelago. From panoramic open decks, enjoy Arctic landscapes and wildlife sightings. Bountiful inshore and offshore waters are home to walrus and a wide variety of whales.
Day 14: Spitsbergen
Explore the spectacular fjords and coasts in the western part of Svalbard. This area contains some of the archipelago’s most wonderful scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. Deep fjords and narrow channels are flanked by jagged snowy mountain peaks. Immense tidewater glaciers calve icebergs into turquoise waters. Among the sights are remnants of whaling camps, coal-mining operations, trappers’ cabins, staging areas for historic attempts to discover the North Pole, and the ruins of a WWII weather station.
Day 15: Disembark in Longyearbyen, Svalbard
After breakfast on board, disembark and transfer to the airport for international departures.
MIR Corporation whose name means “peace” and “world” in Russian, has specialized in Russia (and neighboring countries) since 1986. Offering scheduled and custom journeys to Russia, along the Trans-Siberian and across the Silk Route, MIR’s Seattle-based experts design imaginative trips that take travelers far from the familiar, and work closely with local affiliates in Western Russia, Siberia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan to carry them out. MIR has twice been named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth,” and is a preferred operator for museum, alumni and special interest organizations across the country. http://www.mircorp.com