Next year, Cookson Adventures will take intrepid travellers to a remote expedition camp near the North Pole for polar bear spotting. Jenny Southan reports
Between March and May 2023, Cookson Adventures will be hosting travellers at a temporary camp in eastern Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole.
Specialising in crafting some of the most creative and pioneering adventures on the planet, Cookson says this set to be a “highlight of 2023 for those with a passion for exploring remote destinations and for meaningful travel”.
Using the camp as a base for witnessing the pristine landscapes and rare wildlife of eastern Svalbard, Cookson Adventures will create a personalised adventure for exclusive groups of up to six guests. From back-country skiing to remote dining set ups, the camp’s unrivalled location will enable guests to venture deep into Svalbard’s untouched wilderness.This innovative expedition camp has been designed by Arctic experts to withstand the extreme conditions, while also providing a comfortable and warm base from which to explore in style from. The camp has a central socialising area to relax in during the day and separate sleeping quarters for night, complete with heated showers and toilets.
For quiet moments, a curated library covers topics ranging from climate change to polar exploration history. The camp’s private chef serves a tailored menu of delicious Nordic dishes, using local ingredients from Svalbard and the arctic region such as bearded seal, reindeer and ptarmigan (a kind of gamebird).
The secluded camp is a scenic four-hour snowmobile ride over glaciers and past frozen fjords from Longyearbyen, with the final location offering up unparalleled panoramic views over endless mountains. The camp is managed by an expert team of expedition guides, who all have extensive experience of the region.Cookson Adventures’ exclusive network of wildlife experts and regional contacts guarantee both unparalleled access and maximum safety. The experiences will give guests a sense of the scale of the surrounding wilderness, while also giving a unique insight into the challenges of preserving such a fragile ecosystem first hand.
The trip will also be appropriate for families with children over the age of eight. A heated “sluffe” sled ensures children are kept warm during the transfers by snowmobile. Children will be able to learn how to build igloos, make ice cream and play games around the camp with the guides, while the adults explore further afield.
- Exceptional backcountry skiing by snowmobile.
- Paragliding directly from the camp.
- Guided hikes and glacial walking, learning more about the region’s diverse geology and wildlife.
- Visiting historical sites such as Pyramiden (if open), a former Soviet Mining town that housed Russia’s best and brightest from 1930 -1999. This 3,000-person town was completely abandoned and is a now a haunting monument to that era frozen in time.
- Conservation in action – leading scientists can join the trip to bring the current environmental challenges and solutions of Svalbard to life in real time.
- Remote dining set ups in breathtaking locations.
- Snowmobile exploration.
- Photography workshops.
The Arctic may seem desolate but there are many species that thrive in this environment and can be seen right outside the camp or on daily excursions. Encountering the local wildlife in their natural habitat at a safe and respectful distance is an exhilarating experience. Guests can expect to catch sight of a variety of different species from arctic foxes and Svalbard reindeers to ptarmigan and snowy owls.The east coast of Svalbard is also one of the richest environments for Arctic marine life due to the ocean consistently freezing in winter. One of the largest fjords, Storfjorden, is between the coastline and Edge Island. The ocean currents combined with calving glaciers make the sea ice uneven in places, creating the perfect conditions for harbour and ringed seals to make their dens for pupping and subsequently for the large local population of polar bears to hunt.From March until the end of May is the best time to travel to the Arctic Islands of Svalbard in winter. The build-up of sea ice over the season enables guests to travel with ease over the snow-covered landscape by expedition snowmobile as the light returns and offers the chance to view the spectacular Northern Lights. April heralds the start of the 24-hour light season on the archipelago, allowing guests to forget time, to truly disconnect and just live by the conditions given that day.
An eight-day Eastern Svalbard adventure with Cookson Adventures costs from £230,000 based on an exclusive group of up to six guests sharing twin tents. This includes two nights in Longyearbyen and five nights at the glacier camp. This rate is all-inclusive and also includes itinerary planning, expert guiding and hosting, all experiences, equipment and transfers and an optional personal photographer.