Scooter tour in spring
What an experience looking for Polar Bears the active way by using a personal snowmobile on the Svalbard (Spitsbergen) archipelago during early spring. Locations that have had recent Polar Bear sightings will get priority visits. As the tour has got a photographic philosophy all opportunities will be used to boost this focus: landscapes, glaciers, plus birds and mammals while searching for Polar Bears.
Different areas will be visited where possible: Tempelfjorden, the East coast or Pyramiden it all depends on the tour leader’s scouting and prospection for wildlife the week before the tour’s departure. Depending on the current ice conditions once the tour starts the itinerary might change on a daily basis.
Binoculars, telescopes and big lenses
Binoculars are used to scan vast sea ice and fjords while searching for Polar Bears and other wildlife. Although Polar Bears occur in bigger numbers than human inhabitants on the archipelago this doesn’t mean they are easy to find! This time of the year bears roam over the frozen seas around the islands to hunt their main prey the Ringed Seal the tour will of course focus on these areas. Once spotted, a telescope will be used to offer all participants good views from a safe distance. Depending on the situation the Polar Bear might be approached for a photo shoot.
Being flexible and well prepared for long days
This is a trip where a stunning atmospheric photo opportunity is possible many times during the day. Given the fact of being so far north there will be 24 hours of daylight this time of the year. The tour leader could decide to go for an evening photo-excursion after dinner trying to frame some Reindeer, Arctic Foxes, Ringed Seals or the stunning landscapes in the last rays of the sun. An outing during early morning before breakfast is an option too, this in addition to the already fixed schedule. The sledge rides are often quite bumpy so protection of your equipment is very important. Everybody who wants to drive their own scooter must hold a driving licence B. More than half of the group is required to drive their own sledge!
A voyage to Spitsbergen during early spring is not an ordinary ‘winter’ holiday. Despite being situated 78° North and a real Arctic experience the temperatures usually do not drop below -25°C; this is because of the influence of the gulfstream. The average temperatures in April are -10 to -15°C. Inland or with windy conditions it gets colder rather quickly. However, being a dry cold, low temperatures are seldom a problem.
Good outdoor gear a must
Snow scooters are the only possible way to travel great distances this time of the year. Fortunately all the scooters have good electrical hand warmers for both driver and passenger. Most of the time will be spent in the field on or close by the scooters. Everybody gets a good full body outer layer that is windproof and insulated. Bringing with you a thick down jacket is highly recommended and something you can’t really do without. Boots, goggles, facemask, mittens and a helmet are all provided while using the scooters.