Rarely visited today yet significant in the history of polar exploration, Franz Josef Land is worthy of its legendary reputation.
This extraordinary expedition to Franz Josef Land is as unique and authentic as the place itself. Starting in Longyearbyen in the Norwegian territory of Svalbard, we cross the icy, wildlife-rich Barents Sea to the Russian High Arctic. In Franz Josef Land we discover unparalleled landscapes, wildlife, and history in one of the wildest and most remote corners of the Arctic.
The archipelago, part of the Russian Arctic National Park since 2012, is a nature sanctuary. Polar bears and other quintessential High Arctic wildlife—such as walruses and some rare whale species—can be spotted anytime, anywhere in and around Franz Josef Land. Scree slopes and cliffs around the islands host enormous nesting colonies of migratory seabirds such as guillemots, dovekies, and ivory gulls. We’ll take advantage of the 24-hour daylight to exploit every opportunity for wildlife viewing.
In Franz Josef Land we encounter a stark and enigmatic landscape steeped in the drama and heroism of early polar exploration. At places like Bell Island, Cape Flora, and Cape Tegetthoff we have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Fridtjof Nansen, Frederick George Jackson, Julius von Payer, and other polar explorers. At Tikhaya Bukhta we find the ruins of a Soviet-era research facility that was also a major base for polar expeditions. Across the archipelago there are monuments, memorials, crosses, and the remains of makeshift dwellings, all testimony to incredible historical events.