Read time – 3 minutes

“This morning was glorious. A Spitsbergen scene: a coruscating sea, cobalt glacier, avian players and the snap crackle and pop of the treacherous brash ice. This is a wild and savage Eden but one that demands proper investigation.”

So says Exodus’ award-winning photographer and leader, Paul Goldstein, ten days into this year’s Photographic Charter to Spitsbergen, the holy trinity of remote Arctic tundra, incredible wildlife and the perfect Polar vessel to sail on.

On board was an elite team of decorated Arctic experts, from chefs to conservationists, and on deck Paul and Mark Carwardine leant their wildlife knowledge and photographic expertise to anyone who joined them on their photographic vigil. 

VavilovSailing through the Arctic

The triumphant return of yet another hugely successful charter brought with it a deluge of images, anecdotes and grinning faces. Is it even possible to break this down to a series of highlights? We don’t know if we managed it, but we did try.

Spitsbergen Wildlife

Polar Bear Sightings

“I give you a feisty male on ice, a full 22 nautical miles from shore picking his way over a crenulated patchwork of sea ice. Bears on ice: this is why you come to this distant polar outpost.”

Polar bears on icePolar bears on ice

“There is a quantum difference between approaching a wild animal and one greeting you; this was the latter.”

Polar bears on iceSpotting polar bears

“Nine Polar bear sightings before breakfast is a frankly preposterous total.”

Spitsbergen charter 2018Up close to polar bears

“In the distance a mother nurses two infants under a turquoise amphitheatre the size of the Millennium stadium.”

Spitsbergen charter 2018Polar bear and its cubs

Walrus Sightings

“When Mr Lennon’s drug-addled lyrics permeated every airwave, walrus were being harvested almost to oblivion, be thankful that his psychedelic chorus was not these innocent mammals’ epitaph.”

Spitsbergen charter 2018Meeting the walrus

“Walrus appeared desperate for some attention, meandering in and out of turquoise bergs and mosaics of glacial ice grouted temporarily to the silky surface.”

Spitsbergen charter 2018Photographing the walrus

Bird Sightings

“Now this is prime avian real estate, with hundreds of thousands of birds at all levels of the chilly tenements.”

Spitsbergen charter 2018Birdwatching

“In bright sunshine just after midday, the final staff Zodiac left the shore filled to the gunwales with landing gear. Just beyond the gentle surf, it dropped off Boris onto an empty boat. He danced across the shimmering pontoons and released his vessel before effortlessly slipping the Yamaha into gear.

As he fixed his thousand-yard stare on the bow of the mother ship an Arctic tern hovered overhead before peeling away into the blue. There are terns down South too, Antarctic ones, come and visit them sometime…”

Don’t just take our word for it…

‘Fantastic trip, beyond all expectations. Amazing spotters, so many polar bears, so many ‘unique’ moments, you couldn’t make it up. Thanks to absolutely EVERYONE who made it such an amazing expedition.’ Keith Snell

‘An amazing trip exceeding every expectation, Thanks to all who make it so memorable. A wonderful way to spend my birthday.’ Val & Lawrence

‘Where to begin? Amazing life-changing, life-affirming experience. Will never be able to thank every single member of staff enough for making this a trip of a lifetime.’ Jane Stevenson 

Chris Packham, Mark Cawardine, and Paul GoldsteinChris, Paul and Mark

Mark Carwardine is a zoologist, an active and outspoken conservationist, an award-winning writer, a TV and radio presenter, a widely published wildlife photographer, a magazine columnist and a conservation consultant.

Chris Packham is, in the words of the Times is ‘the heir to David Attenborough’, a ‘national treasure’ (Metro) and has garnered many other hundred choice epithets on countless news websites. As a BBC presenter he is without peers, as a Conservationist he is top tier.

Exodus guide and award-winning photographer Paul Goldstein has a ridiculous amount of energy and is, as the Sunday Times described him, ‘a preposterously vivacious guide of almost psychotic gusto’.

See our Polar photographic charter below and capture your own images.