Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Traveling aboard the new National Geographic Endurance, go where few others have gone before, traversing the length of the Northeast Passage.
  • Sail the pristine seas at the top of the planet, seeking out walruses among the ice floes and narwhals and whales swimming through iceberg-dotted waters.
  • See the remote ice-draped coastlines of Novaya Zemlya and Severnaya Zemlya, and watch glaciers calve straight into the sea.
  • Visit Wrangel Island, home to the world’s highest density of ancestral polar bear dens.

Itinerary

Itinerary

Set out on an incredible journey that few others have experienced: a transit of the Northeast Passage. Traveling from Arctic Norway aboard the Polar Class 5 National Geographic Endurance, explore the seldom seen archipelagos north of Siberia, charting a course from the Barents Sea to the Chukchi Sea. Walk coastlines where wooly mammoths once roamed; glimpse islands that have yet to be thoroughly explored; and scan the seas and shorelines for fascinating Arctic wildlife, including the elusive narwhal. Trace the routes of early Arctic explorers, and hear about the centuries-long search for this legendary seaway.

This trip is operated in collaboration with Lindblad Expeditions.

Days 1-2: U.S./Oslo, Norway

Fly overnight to Oslo, and check into our hotel upon arrival. On an afternoon tour, stroll amid the city’s famed Vigeland sculptures—hundreds of life-size human figures set in terraced parkland. Visit the Fram Museum, showcasing the polar ship Fram and dedicated to the explorers and wooden vessels that navigated the Arctic Sea in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The evening is free to explore Oslo on your own.

Meals Included:Day 2 (Lunch)
Accommodations:Hotel Bristol
Days 3-5: Tromsø/Norway’s Fjords

Take a charter flight to Tromsø, known as the “gateway to the Arctic,” and embark our ship. Spend the next two days exploring Norway’s spectacular northern coast. Carved by glaciers over millions of years, these shores are laced with steep-walled fjords, mountainous islands, and chiseled peaks. Cruise along vertical rock faces and through serene fjords. Be on the lookout for seabirds and marine mammals and learn about the region from our experienced natural history staff.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Accommodations:

National Geographic Endurance for the entire voyage

Days 6-25: Exploring the Russian High Arctic, Siberian Coast, and Russian Far East

In keeping with the nature of an expedition, our day-by-day itinerary will be flexible. We’ll utilize the extensive experience of our captain and crew, as well as of our technological resources and ice-strengthened ship, to chart a course around impenetrable ice, through one of the most remote regions on Earth, and toward once-in-a-lifetime sightings of the Arctic’s abundant wildlife. During our time at sea, enjoy the ship amenities and hear lectures from our naturalists. Listed below are some of the stops that we plan to make during our expedition.

Franz Josef Land

Located just over 550 miles from the North Pole, Franz Josef Land is the world’s northernmost archipelago; its uninhabited islands remain frozen under vast ice sheets for much of the year. In 2013, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala led an expedition in the surrounding Arctic waters as part of the Pristine Seas project, capturing the first deep-sea footage of the rare Greenland shark. Our ship, Zodiacs, and kayaks bring us close to the archipelago’s dramatic icescapes, seldom seen coastlines, and out-of-this-world scenery at the top of the planet. Observe polar bears from the ship deck, and go ashore for naturalist-led walks to search for walruses, arctic seabird colonies.

Novaya Zemlya

Cruise the Barents Sea en route to the heavily glaciated coastlines of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, a chain of mountainous islands draped in ice that have yet to be thoroughly explored. Seals, walruses, and polar bears may be found on coastal ice floes year-round, and rich birdlife inhabits the shorelines during the summer months. Watch for Arctic wildlife as we navigate past Ice Harbor, where Dutch explorer Willem Barents spent the winter between 1596 and 1597.

Severnaya Zemlya

As we sail under 24 hours of daylight, our naturalists will be on deck, seeking out beluga whales and other marine mammals that inhabit the shallow coastal waters bordering the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago. Discovered only in 1930, this chain of isles—separated from the coast of northern Siberia by the Vil’kitskogo Strait—is one of the planet’s most recently charted territories. Pass Cape Chelyuskin, the most northerly point of the Eurasian continent, on our way east toward the “new world.”

New Siberian Islands

Often surrounded by heavy pack ice, the volcanic spires, cliffs, and buttresses of these rocky outposts are a magnificent backdrop for abundant wildlife. We keep a lookout for elusive Ross’s gull, named after the British polar explorer. Walruses haul out on the ice in great numbers and seabirds nest on great cliffs on the De Long Islands, discovered by the 1881 Jeannette expedition in search of the North Pole.

East Siberian Sea

Depending on sailing conditions, explore granite towers, tundra, and ancient ceremonial sites along shores where mammoths once roamed. The surrounding pack ice is an ideal place to find walruses, polar bears, and other wildlife of the circumpolar north.

Wrangel Island

Spend time exploring the World Heritage–listed Wrangel Island Reserve in the Arctic Ocean. With the world’s largest population of Pacific walruses and the highest density of ancestral polar bear dens, Wrangel Island offers incredible opportunities for wildlife viewing. The island escaped glaciation during the last ice age, and now has the highest level of biodiversity in the high Arctic, with an astonishing variety of plant life. It was also the last refuge of woolly mammoths, whose bones and teeth have been discovered amid the island’s riverbeds, providing intriguing clues to their past existence. As we explore by ship, by Zodiac, and on foot, keep an eye out for gray whales, which can be found in these prime feeding grounds.

Chukchi Sea

Sail south from Wrangel and go ashore at Kolyuchin Island and Kolyuchin Inlet on the northern Chukotka coast. An enormous tidal estuary, Kolyuchin Inlet offers excellent hiking and birding opportunities. Nearby, Kolyuchin Island is a high, cliff-lined isle where puffins and guillemots nest, and Pacific walruses occasionally sunbathe on the rocks below. Explore this remote and untouched coastline in a Zodiac, and conditions permitting, head ashore to go hiking with our naturalists.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Day 26: Nome, Alaska

Arrive in Nome this morning, and transfer to the airport to catch your flight home via Anchorage.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch

Optional Extensions

Optional Extensions

  • Norwegian Fjords Extension
    6 days from $4,590
  • Winterlake Lodge Extension
    5 days from $7,040
  • Tutka Bay Lodge Extension
    5 days from $7,180
Norwegian Fjords Extension

Before embarking on your expedition cruise, spend seven days venturing deep into Norway’s western fjordlands. Travel by train between snow-dusted peaks, and explore the majestic landscapes of the Sognefjorden—the longest and deepest fjord in Norway—on foot and by ship. Kayak the clear waters of the Sørfjorden, and hike past verdant mountainside orchards around Ullensvang. Marvel at the intricate architecture of wooden stave churches in medieval mountain towns, and enjoy the daily rhythms of life in farming villages up and down the fjords.

Days 1-2: U.S./Bergen, Norway

Depart on an overnight flight to Bergen, the gateway to the fjords. This picturesque coastal city was once a hub for the powerful Hanseatic League, which ruled northern Europe’s commercial activity from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Check in to our centrally-located hotel and enjoy a dinner of local cuisine.

Meals Included:Day 2 (Dinner)
Accommodations:Hotel Norge by Scandic or similar
Day 3: Bergen

Explore Bergen’s historic city center, from its colorful old wharf to the Hanseatic Museum, which details the history of German merchants in the region. Step inside St. Mary’s Church and the reconstructed Fantoft Stave Church. This intricate wooden church was originally built in 1150 on the edge of an inland fjord, but was moved to Bergen in the 19th century. Later, discover the home of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, and then ride the famed funicular to a peak providing panoramic views of the city and the bay.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Hotel Norge by Scandic or similar
Day 4: Flåm Railway/Sognefjorden/Ullensvang

Today’s adventure will take us through Norway’s spectacular fjordlands by train and ferry. Begin the day with a drive to Voss, known as the adventure capital of Norway. From here, catch a train to Myrdal for a journey amid towering green mountains. Then board the famed Flåm Railway and ascend some 2,900 feet in less than an hour, traveling through breathtaking valleys and along stunning fjords to reach the charming village of Flåm. After lunch, set sail from Gudvangen for a voyage through the Nærøyfjorden, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, and two other arms of the famed Sognefjorden. Glide past the base of majestic peaks rising over 5,000 feet into the clouds, and spot the white streaks of waterfalls cascading down wooded mountainsides. Return to Gudvangen and drive to Bruraviga, enjoying superb views of Stalheim Canyon and Nærøydal Valley. Later, travel by ferry to Brimnes, then transfer to Ullensvang. Upon arrival, check in to our historic hotel situated on the stunning Sørfjorden, an arm of the Hardangerfjorden—the second longest fjord in the country.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Hotel Ullensvang
Day 5: Ullensvang

Enjoy a day to savor the beauty of our idyllic surroundings, choosing from a variety of activities. Explore the clear waters and green shores of the Sørfjorden by kayak or canoe. Hike past lush cherry and apple orchards lining the edge of the fjord, or relax on the waterfront where composer Edvard Grieg spent his summers. Or choose to visit Ullensvang Church and the Hardanger Folk Museum to learn about the history of this captivating region.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Hotel Ullensvang
Day 6: Ullensvang/Oslo

Today, discover an array of wild and spectacular landscapes as we journey east to Oslo. Marvel at the delicate streams of Tvindefossen waterfall and the reflection of forested hills in the mirror-like surface of Oppheim Lake. Stop to view the dramatic Vøringsfossen waterfall as it plummets deep into Måbødalen valley. In the village of Ål, visit the Torpo Stave Church, constructed around 1192 and bearing the runic inscription of its builder. After lunch in the historic town of Gol, continue to Oslo and enjoy a free afternoon to explore Norway’s capital.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:Hotel Bristol or similar
Day 7: Oslo

After breakfast, set out on your own to discover Oslo’s diverse cultural offerings, from the famed Vigeland Park sculpture garden to the stunning waterfront Opera House. In the afternoon, meet fellow travelers for a guided city tour before embarking on your expedition cruise.

Meals Included:Breakfast