The most accessible place on earth to find polar bears truly in the wild is located in Norway’s High Arctic. A mere 600 miles from the North Pole, Svalbard is true wilderness, a pristine blue-white land of towering glaciers, spectacular fjords, teeming bird colonies, pods of walrus sunning on pebbled beaches, and reindeer grazing on tundra ablaze with wildflowers.
Here the great polar bears, aloof and majestic on the sea ice, maintain their native habitat untroubled by human encroachment. During our voyage in the Arctic ice, we’ll observe all manner of polar bear behaviors, from hunting for seals amid the floes to frolicking with their cubs. The entire spectacle is viewable from the proximity and safety of the ship’s deck rail.
We’ll travel there in safety and comfort aboard the ice-strengthened expedition ship National Geographic Explorer. Assisting us will be the best ice team in the world. With a range of innovative tools for exploring, including a fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks for up-close wildlife viewing and personal adventures, the Explorer is the perfect mobile platform for discovering the Arctic’s wondrous panorama. A veteran captain and crew together with a team of onboard naturalists have been exploring this wilderness for years and have found the best spots to look for polar bears or search offshore for some of the largest whales on earth. In addition, an undersea specialist and a photo instructor will help you explore and capture every facet of your journey.
W&L’s beloved emeritus professor of geology Ed Spencer will be our personal study leader. Join Ed and like-minded travelers during the season of the summer solstice for an unforgettable exploration in the High Arctic.
Ed Spencer is the Ruth Parmly Professor of Geology emeritus at Washington and Lee University. A popular study leader, Ed has led W&L Traveller programs in the Grand Canyon, Nepal, Patagonia, Norway and Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, Switzerland, the Pyrenees and W&L’s “Around the World by Private Jet.” He has conducted research in Spain, France, Greece, Scotland, as well as throughout the United States. Ed is the author of several college textbooks on geology, earth science, environmental systems, and map interpretation. His fields of specialization include mountain belts, environmental geology, and fresh water conservation. Educated at Washington and Lee, with a Ph.D. from Columbia, Ed has been honored for his superior teaching by the Virginia Department of Higher Education. He is fondly known by his students as “Dr. Rock.”