11 Days
Physical Rating
Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Group Size


May in Svalbard is an ice lover’s dream. On our expedition you will have a chance to photograph one of the last great Arctic frontiers on earth under the cover of ice and snow – the landscape and wildlife of the Svalbard Archipelago. Because of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, Svalbard has an arctic climate that significantly higher temperatures than other areas at the same latitude. Here lives the mighty polar bear, or Isbjörn (“ice bear“) as it is known, and they will be our main focus during the expedition.

ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE LOCATION Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen
Accommodation for 10 nights in twin/single share room basis
Meals as indicated in the itinerary
Assistance on arrival and departure at each destination
Longyearbyen snowmobile excursion
Zodiac excursions
Certified bear guard
Two Focus Expeditions trip leaders
Any expenses of a personal nature such as telephone calls, beverages, liquor and wines, etc.*
International airfare
Tips and gratuities
Travel insurance
*Beverages including liquor can be purchased in USD on the ship at the bar.


1/5: Non-tented expedition, optional walks, little elevation gain or loss.

See FAQ Page for a full description of physical ratings.

Letters correspond to points on the map found at the bottom of this page.


Day 1: Arrive to Spitsbergen

We arrive in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, before transferring to our hotel. Overnight stay at BaseCamp Spitsbergen, where meals are on your own.Svalbard-May-A

Day 2: Exploring Longyearbyen

After breakfast, we begin exploring the island and its inhabitants by snowmobile. Overnight stay at BaseCamp Spitsbergen, with all meals on our own.Svalbard-May-B

Day 3: Adventfjorden

After our last breakfast on shore and some relaxing time to wander around the community of Longyearbyen, we board the M/S Origo and depart the Adventfjorden at approximately 16:00. Breakfast, dinner and overnight stay on the M/S Origo is included, while for lunch we are on our own. Our ocean expedition begins now!Svalbard-May-C

Day 4-10: Svalbard Archipelago

The next seven days are dedicated to exploring the Svalbard Archipelago in search of the ice bear and other northern wildlife. We will photograph towering glaciers and sea ice in many shapes and forms. Because we have chartered the entire ship, we are free to go where the light and ice will take us and welcome to linger for as much time as we would like in order to capture the magical light available to us for arctic photography. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight stay are included on board the M/S Origo.Svalbard-May-D

Day 11: Return to Longyearbyen

We enjoy breakfast on the ship before disembarking in Longyearbyen in the morning. We fly to Oslo and continue on your flight home. Book your flight from noon or later.Svalbard-May-E




“There is a magic about the Arctic that is difficult to describe …even for me having lived in the far north for more than two decades. You have to experience it for yourself. Svalbard is one of the best places to do so.”



“Ice is a photographer’s dream. Polar bears are the ultimate predator – top of the land- bearing food chain. Light is the one element that makes a photograph become a piece of art. Svalbard has all three of these combined that make this trip one of my favorite places in the world to photograph. This expedition is the ultimate adventure and a chance to see the mighty polar bear in his natural and magical habitat.”


Tour Reviews

5 based on 7 reviews
October 5, 2016

My wife and I were privileged to be part of the Svalbard expedition. I could not wait to go but my wife was very apprehensive. AS the trip progressed her perspective changed dramatically and it ended with her having an extremely memorable and positive experience. I should say that we also celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on the trip and Jami and Theo made sure it was a special time for us.
If you are looking for a once in a lifetime experience this is it. The accommodations were surprisingly comfortable, the food was excellent, the effort put into placing us in the right spot to see wildlife and scenery few are privileged to see was above and beyond. Jami and Theo are without doubt true professionals but beyond their professional expertise their personalities and genuine interest in the expedition participants created an atmosphere of fun, caring and true friendship. All which greatly enhanced the overall experience.
From my perspective the test of a great experience rests in the question, “Would you go with the trip leaders again”? My answer is unequivocally and resoundingly yes! Jami and Theo were as important to the overall success of our trip as was the remarkable place we were privileged to experience.

October 7, 2016

Simply a life changing experience! The Arctic is a magical place, and with Focus Expeditions you get to see it in a way that not many people get a chance to experience. With only 12 people we had two wonderful professional photographers at our disposal 24/7 as well as two wonderful guides/naturalists. We saw everything that the Arctic has to offer and came home with amazing photos, life long memories and many new friends.

Jami and Theo are professional, friendly and knowledgable. You won’t find anyone who offers a better trip and a better value. I highly recommend Focus Expeditions to anyone who wants a very special experience.

October 12, 2016

As a nature lover this was a trip of a lifetime, I always wished to go on an expedition out far into the wilderness and it came true with Focus Expeditions. Being able to go out deep into remote wild places and experience wilderness at its best was wonderful. Theo and Jami are not only renowned wildlife photographers but they are great professionals and persons. Another important aspect for me is that they always work in avoiding creating an impact on the environment, the animals and their habitat, part of it is having small groups which makes the experience even more enjoyable. The crew from the Freya and the two polar bear guides were also amazing. In the future my husband and I will consider planning more trips with Focus Expeditions.

Adriana Morales

October 12, 2016

This was not my trip, it was my husband’s trip. I don’t like cold. I didn’t think I had much interest in polar bears or walrus, either… but I love my husband and he wanted me to go. So I did, and I can’t even articulate how glad I am that I did! I have never experienced anything like this, nor will I ever again. It was amazing and breathtaking as well as educational and thrilling. We saw it all on a roomy and comfortable converted Coast Guard ice-cutter and enough inflatables so that we all had a good view of what was happening right in front of us. We were up close and personal with polar bears (that I now truly care for), walrus (who are the clowns of the arctic), and reindeer (who look like medium-sized dogs with pig-like noses). We also came to know a variety of amazing arctic birds, seals and even a shy arctic fox. We saw everything on our list as if these wild things were placed for our entertainment. Actually the crew sometimes worked through the night to find them for us!

Amazingly, I was never cold. Jami and Theo prepared us perfectly, so that our experience would be enjoyable and comfortable, as well as educational. They also selected the crew and guides, who could not have been more accommodating. Jami and Theo were always engaging, fun and helpful. We could not have asked for more.

You should take this trip. You will never regret it, and may even find that it will be a highlight of your life, just as it is of mine.

October 17, 2016

Truly a trip of a lifetime. More than just a photography expedition, it was a deeply satisfying experience of the beauty, nature and history of the artic. The accommodations were excellent, both on the ship Freya and at the lodge in Longyearbyen. The itinerary was well executed to provide many opportunities to get as close as possible to birds, seals, walrus, reindeer, polar bears, glaciers, etc. and to fully experience the natural beauty of Svalbard. Great planning by trip leaders Jami and Theo, who in addition to providing pre-travel gear and camera recommendations, were immensely helpful with photographic questions throughout the trip, and are quite simply wonderful travel companions. Our polar guides Ricard and Heather were fountains of knowledge regarding the wildlife, flora and colorful history of the arctic and the Freya crew made us feel at home on the ship. We made many new friends and brought back incredible photos and incredibly fond memories!

October 27, 2016

I went with many misgivings since I had never been on an expedition before and do not like to be cold. I was also concerned that there would be physical challenges too difficult for me. It’s always satisfying to have done something hard and realize that you can do more than you think! Gorgeous scenery awaited us each day when we went out from the boat on the zodiac. One day we left the zodiac, climbed a small hill and sat looking at a serene lake surrounded with snow-covered mountains. Our guide said to sit and just be quiet. We truly heard the “sound” of silence–the most quiet moment I have ever experienced–unforgettable. The wildlife was fantastic: polar bears, walruses, seals, various kinds of birds, and reindeer. The polar bear behavior we saw was unique: a male pursuing a female with her checking to be sure he was following, a polar bear eating a seal for lunch, and a polar bear walking up to our boat–just a few feet away! I got terrific pictures of that bear and my husband is the photographer! Our expedition leaders Jami and Theo, the bear guides, the captain and crew of the boat were all superb–as was the food! All-in-all a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t change a single thing.

November 6, 2016

We had previously been on a trip to Africa with Jami and Theo and had a fantastic time! During our trip they told us about this adventure to the North Pole that they were planning and it sounded amazing! Our only problem was that our daughter was graduating from High School in the middle of the trip. As GOD would have it, he had our daughter enroll in a different High School and my wife and I could now make the trip. Jami and Theo were so gracious and made sure we were able to secure a spot. Both Jami and Theo took care of us months before the trip ever started by contacting us to make sure we had just the right clothes, coordinating flights and spent hours with my wife making sure we had the right camera equipment. Once we arrived in Longyearbyen they shuttled us away to our base camp, which was a very friendly and enjoyable hotel for the night. It was amazing to walk outside at midnight and still have the sun shining like it was the early afternoon. Our trip turned out to be one of the most spectacular times of our life. We met great people, had tons of fun and laughed and cried at the same time. We saw ice bergs that were several amazing colors, arctic foxes, walrus, owls, reindeer and polar bears that followed each other near the glaciers, sometimes eating in their natural environment and ones that were so close you could almost touch them from the main boat as we cut through the ice. We took at least two trips a day on Zodiacs to get a closer look at the glaciers, animals, icebergs and surrounding land mass to be able to see the beauty of this area. We took short hikes in several areas and were able to get a much different perspective of the amazing arctic area and the animals that live there. Not only did we get great pictures through out the trip, but also we had the best crew and cooks to keep us happy and safe! I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves the outdoors, as it is truly a once in a lifetime adventure with Jami and Theo and Focus Expeditions!

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