Wildlife Photography Holidays with Secret Atlas

Join Secret Atlas on one of our wildlife photography holidays to explore and shoot the most pristine and remote places on earth. Our voyages take a maximum of 12 guests and are led by World-class photographers and expert expedition leaders to get closer to that perfect shot. Our tours are designed for all photographers from amateur to pro.

Our Top Wildlife Photography Holidays

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svalbard cruises

Booking Promise

As we look forward to exploring with you again in 2021 we would like to reassure our customers with our risk-free booking promise.

 

Advanced Safety Measures

Find out about the advanced safety measures we will be taking on our future voyages to ensure your safety.

Svalbard Wildlife Photography Holidays 2021 and 2022

Join the ultimate Arctic photography holiday. Take a trip to photograph the extraordinary wildlife and polar scenery of Svalbard, north of Norway onboard a vessel with just 12 photographers and 2 expedition leaders. 

Svalbard archipelago is one of the best places on the planet for wildlife photography. On our trips, we’re regularly lucky enough to encounter incredible creatures in their natural habits, including the ‘King of the Arctic’ – the polar bear. We have also encountered an abundance of land mammals, marine life, and vast birdlife including walruses, beluga whales, blue whales, reindeer, Arctic foxes, and guillemots.

polar bear photo tour
wildlife photo tour in svalbard

Polar bear photos by Chase Teron. One of the many highlights of a Svalbard wildlife holiday. You can join a photo tour of Svalbard with Chase here. 

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Svalbard: a Dream Wildlife Photography Holiday Destination 

 

Svalbard is an archipelago with nine main islands to the north of Norway. It’s located just 800 miles (1287.48km) from the North Pole, and home to an abundance of wildlife. Svalbard’s polar witness is a haven to wildlife during the summer months when migratory birds return from warmer places and there is more vegetation.  

Summer is also the perfect time to come and photograph this incredible holiday destination. Opportunities for wildlife sightings, favourable conditions, and 24-hr sunlight are an Arctic photographer’s dream.  As the long winter draws to an end, the sea ice around Svalbard opens, which makes it possible navigate the waters safely, and reach remote places with unique polar wildlife, including species that don’t exist anywhere else on earth.

polar bear tours in Svalbard by Chase Teron
photo tour in svalbard

Travelling on a small, comfortable micro-expedition vessel with 12 photographers guarantees that we will get close to nature and wildlife, reaching remote and uninhabited areas that larger cruises can’t get to.  Although wildlife moves at its own pace, and we can never guarantee sightings, we’re regularly fortunate enough to see polar bears roaming in their vast, natural home as we explore the Svalbard fjords and coastline. We also frequently see walruses, beluga whales, and an abundance of birdlife. 

There are only three species of terrestrial mammals on Svalbard – the Svalbard reindeer, Arctic fox, and sibling vole. The vole was probably introduced to Svalbard in animal fodder at the Russian mining settlement of Grumantbyen. Attempts to introduce other species like Arctic hare and muskox have failed to establish and they have gone extinct.  But, there is plenty of birdlife to see on the archipelago. Over 227 different bird species have been recorded on Svalbard, of which 41 are considered annual breeding birds including the pink-footed goose, the red-throated diver, and the northern fulmar. 

chase teron wildlife photography holiday

Wildlife Photography in Svalbard 

Svalbard’s waters are home to 19 species of marine mammals, including polar bears, walruses, five species of seals, and 12 specials of whales. Of these, polar bears, walruses, narwhals, white and bowhead whales stay in the area all year round. The others tend to visit more sporadically during the summer when there is more food available on Svalbard. 

There are only three species of terrestrial mammals on Svalbard – the Svalbard reindeer, Arctic fox, and sibling vole. The vole was probably introduced to Svalbard in animal fodder at the Russian mining settlement of Grumantbyen. Attempts to introduce other species like Arctic hare and muskox have failed to establish and they have gone extinct.  But, there is plenty of birdlife to see on the archipelago. Over 227 different bird species have been recorded on Svalbard, of which 41 are considered annual breeding birds including the pink-footed goose, the red-throated diver, and the northern fulmar.

Conditions are tough for land mammals too, due to permafrost and a lack of vegetation. This is the reason that rodents like mice, rats, and lemmings don’t venture so far north. The only exception is the sibling voie, which was introduced on Svalbard, and resides on the grassy slopes of Grumantbyen and Bjørndalen on the southern side of Isfjorden.

Summertime is hectic for Svalbard’s mammals and birds between June and August. Lower coastal areas tend to be snow-free, there is 24-hr daylight, and temperatures are warm enough for rearing young. The sea ice and under-ice are vital feeding grounds for polar bears, seals, and seabirds. 

There are several bird sanctuaries on Svalbard, and lots of great opportunities for birdwatching, particularly on Spitsbergen. The largest island of the archipelago is home to many bird species including the puffins, Arctic terns, kittiwakes, glaucous gulls, and Brunnich’s guillemots. 

Top Tips for Wildlife Photography on Svalbard 

To get the most out of your wildlife photos on Svalbard: 

  • Bring a long lens. We often see wildlife from a distance, so we recommend a minimum telephoto lens of 300mm. If you are looking to get close up shots of animals, then bring a 600mm lens.
  • Considering renting a lens, it’s is more cost-effective than purchasing
  • Bring lots of spare batteries. Batteries don’t last as long in the Arctic cold.  
  • Use a fast shutter speed for photographing fast-moving wildlife such as birds.

For more wildlife photography information and tips, see our Svalbard photography page

wildlife photo tour in svalbard
wildlife photography holiday

What Is the Best Time for Wildlife Photography in Svalbard? 

 

Photography on Svalbard is divided into distinct seasons. Summer begins in May, where photographers can take advantage of 24-hr sunlight, and often calm weather conditions. Sea ice begins to recede, which opens up the north coast to boats – ideal for polar bear sightings. Mountains are often still snow-capped, providing a majestic backdrop for Arctic landscape photography. 

Conditions change again in late summer, and by late July and early August, the north of Svalbard is relatively free of sea ice meaning, which means it’s possible for fully circumnavigate it’s largest island, Spitsbergen. It also means more opportunities for wildlife photography oppurtunities.  

Would you like to know more about Svalbard wildlife? 

 

Read our blog post: 21 Animals you can see on a cruise to Svalbard

Svalbard Photo Tours

Natural Wonders of Svalbard With Chase Teron

Get expert tips on how to set up, capture, and edit the best possible wildlife photographs on a 9-day micro-cruise with Chase Teron. Chase is a professional wildlife and nature photographer as well an environmentalist, and he’ll be giving group tutorials and one-to-one photography sessions to prepare you for wildlife sightings. Our small expedition vessel will take us up close to nature, and reach places larger ships can’t get to. We’ll travel up the north-west Spitsbergen coast, searching for photo opportunities, with the 24-hr May daylight on our side. 

And there are plenty of magnificent photo opportunities along the way, as visit walrus haul-out sites, explore areas where polar bears roam and get up close to some of Svalbard’s largest, and most impressive glacier fronts. On previous trips, we regularly see walruses, seals, and land-based mammals including Arctic foxes, and reindeer. There’s an excellent chance of encountering marine life too, such as beluga whales, blue whales, and fin whales. Conditions-allowing, we’ll also attempt to explore the sea ice to the north of the archipelago that stretches all the way to the North Pole.  

Wildlife Photography Holidays
polar bear photo tour

Frozen Svalbard with Rick Tomlinson 

Setting off in April, early in the season is a great time for seeing and photographing polar bears like a pro as the ice is close. Professional, expedition and wildlife photographer Rick Tomlinson has been to the Arctic many times, and his pictures have features in international publications including National Geographic. Rick will help our 12 guests to capture dramatic landscape photographs as we journey north and experience Svalbard as it transitions to spring. We’ll have great opportunities to photograph Arctic wildlife and landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and frozen shores –  keeping a look out for wildlife as we travel.

rick tomlinson photo tour

Find out more on our Svalbard Photo Tours page.

Greenland Wildlife Photo Tour 2022

In 2022 we will explore remote parts of Greenland on a photography expedition with 12 guests. Please are extremely limited. Please contact us to register an interest and we will contact you when the tours go on sale.

Norway Wildlife Photo Tour 2021 and 2022

In 2021 we will explore the area around Tromso famed as one of the world’s best whale watching places as Orcas’s fill the snow-lined fjords during the wintertime. The expedition is ideal for capturing the Northern Lights in areas with little to no light pollution. Our expeditions take just 12 guests. Please are extremely limited. Please contact us to register an interest and we will contact you when the tours go on sale.

Antarctica Wildlife Photo Tours 2022 and 2023

In 2022 and 2023 we will run our first-ever photography expedition to Antarctica on an expedition vessel with 12 guests. Places are extremely limited. Please contact us to register an interest and we will contact you when the tours go on sale.

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Photography Holidays

 

What Sort of Wildlife Photography Holidays Does Secret Atlas Offer?

Secret Atlas wildlife photography holidays are a one-off opportunity to experience the Arctic like a pro photographer. Our micro-expedition cruises are on a small vessel carrying just 12 guests, plus an expert wildlife photographer, and an experienced expedition guide. Each expedition departs from Longyearbyen in Svalbard which is accessed by daily flights from Oslo in Norway. New expedition cruise ships can take up to 350 passengers and here at Secret Atlas we believe that is too intrusive for photography in sensitive places. Travelling in small groups means everyone will fit on the zodiac landing craft, so there’s more time for exploring, and plenty of expert help to capture incredible Arctic wildlife and photographs.

Secret Atlas is a member of AECO. 

Why should I choose a small group wildlife photography holiday?

A small group is the best way to experience the wildlife in Svalbard. And, it’s better for wildlife too. Would you rather go ashore as one of 12 guests, or wait around for hundreds of other tourists disembark from a huge expedition vessel? Travelling on a small vessel allows you to encounter nature first hand, in an intimate and peaceful way. You’ll also get more out of your photography with expert tutorials for capturing the Arctic landscape and wildlife in sharp detail.

See all our Wildlife Photography Holidays