2015 Svalbard Arctic Total Solar Eclipse Overview

Sunday – Monday March 15 - 16 Oslo Pre-Nights Option
Day 1TuesdayMarch 17Arrival Oslo, Norway
Day 2WednesdayMarch 18Depart Oslo for Longyearbyen, Svalbard
Day 3ThursdayMarch 19Longyearbyen
Day 4FridayMarch 20Total Solar Eclipse – Longyearbyen
Day 5SaturdayMarch 21Longyearbyen
Day 6SundayMarch 22Depart Svalbard for Oslo, Norway
Day 7MondayMarch 23Oslo – Onward



Day 1 – Tuesday, March 17, 2015Meals on your own

Arrival Oslo, Norway

Upon arrival in Oslo’s Gardermoen airport (code: OSL), and after you pass through immigration it’s an easy three-minute covered walk from the arrivals terminal to our hotel for the night. Take your time getting settled, then drop by the TravelQuest Hospitality Desk, located in one of our hotel’s meeting rooms, for important information on the next morning’s departure to Svalbard. For the rest of the day you’re free to relax in the hotel or discover Oslo, just 20 minutes away by train – or choose among the many other transport options for exploring this fascinating northern capital.

Overnight: Radisson Blu Airport Hotel

Day 2 – Wednesday, March 18, 2015Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Depart Oslo for Longyearbyen, Svalbard




After your morning checkout, it’s once again a quick walk to the departures terminal for our flight to Svalbard. We arrive in mid-afternoon at Longyearbyen Airport, where your TravelQuest representative coordinates the seamless coach transfer to our hotel. En route, a local expert shares important tips on Arctic travel and explains some interesting customs of the local people we’ll meet.

After checking in, join us for a special Wilderness Evening at Camp Barentz, located in the nearby Advent Valley. The camp is an oasis in the wilderness, its open fireplaces adding to the warm, welcoming atmosphere in a unique collection of buildings. Among them are an authentic gamme, a type of house built by native people in northern Norway, as well as a lavvo, the traditional tent of the Sami. The camp also features a replica of the cabin that Willem Barentsz and his crew made from their ship’s timbers when it became stuck in the ice off Novaya Zemlya following their discovery of Spitsbergen.

Our Camp Barentz hosts greet you with a traditional meal followed by coffee and cake. After an expert presentation on the King of the Arctic – the polar bear – you can meet the camp’s friendly huskies and listen as the hosts share their tales of Arctic adventure, along with some incredible photographs. Then it’s time to join your trip astronomer for an evening viewing of the stars and quite possibly the amazing aurora borealis – with plenty of hot drinks, plus a standing invitation to come inside whenever you feel like warming up a little.

Overnight: Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, Spitsbergen Hotel or similar (4 nights)

Day 3 – Thursday, March 19, 2015Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner


After breakfast at the hotel, a local expert introduces you to Longyearbyen, explaining the area’s history and culture, along with its unique geology, flora and fauna. Your tour includes a visit to the award-winning Svalbard Museum and the renowned Galleri Svalbard. Following lunch in the hotel restaurant, you’re free this afternoon to relax or enjoy one of many optional activities you can book on your own (see box). At day’s end, rejoin the group as we travel to the Longyearbyen Kulturhuset for our pre-eclipse briefing, followed by dinner back at the hotel.


Some extra diversions you may want to enjoy during your time in Svalbard:

D3_5Nightly Aurora Borealis Viewing
One night of aurora viewing and photography – well away from the lights of town at Camp Barentz – is included in your four-night Svalbard stay. Conditions permitting, you’re welcome to book additional aurora-viewing excursions on any of the other three nights. As you scan the northern skies up until 1:00 a.m., you can warm yourself with hot drinks and occasionally retreat to a comfortable nearby hut – then catch a shuttle bus back to the hotel whenever you wish.

Snowmobile Safari to Elveneset and Mt. Tempelet
This overland excursion takes you through narrow mountain valleys and across a sweeping Arctic plain as you explore the wilds with a seasoned guide. Passing through Helveticadalen, you arrive at Elveneset overlooking the waters of Sassenfjorden, with superb views of Tempelet’s nearby peak.

Dogsledding through Spectacular Arctic Wilderness
From our hotel it’s a quick drive to the edge of town and Longyearbyen’s dog yard, where the experts will outfit you with more rugged Arctic gear before your introduction to dogsledding. Then, after helping to harness the dogs, you’re off to explore the wilderness in authentic style. With only two people per sled, you have plenty of chances to drive – or just sit back and enjoy the passing scenery. It’s an incredible experience befitting the equally incredible Arctic landscape.

D3_3_2Ice Caving: Explore the Heart of a Glacier
Journey by snow cat up onto Longyear Glacier, then join your expert guides on foot, venturing into the melt-water channels deep within the ice. As the lamp on your helmet illuminates fascinating formations of ice and stone, the otherworldly experience will take your breath away.
Champagne Tasting in an Arctic Cellar
The world’s northernmost wine cellar is located beneath the Spitsbergen Hotel in the Nordpolet spirits store, which offers a wide selection of quality Champagnes and noteworthy vintage wines in an unusual setting.

D3_2_2Advent Valley Snowmobile Safari
As you explore the beautiful Advent Valley, your guide will shed light on the fascinating history of Svalbard and the many interesting spots along your route. And on the way back to Longyearbyen, enjoy a hearty lunch at Camp Barentz.

Barentsburg Snowmobile Safari: Experience Russian Svalbard
Heading west through Colesdalen, make your way down the coast past Kapp Laila and Kapp Heer to the Russian mining town of Barentsburg, where you can enjoy a guided tour before lunching at the historic Barentsburg Hotel.

Tempelfjorden Snowmobile Safari: Toward the Glacier
This wilderness journey takes you out to the vast glacial face – more than a mile and a half (3 km) across – that towers over the ice at Tempelfjord. En route, you cross the Sassen Valley and pass Villa Fredheim – built by the renowned hunter Hilmar Nøis, who spent 38 winters on Svalbard.

Please note: Final details of optional activities, including booking arrangements and pricing, will be announced closer to the trip departure date.

Day 4 – Friday, March 20, 2015Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Total Solar Eclipse – Longyearbyen

In the morning, well before the eclipse begins, we drive you to TravelQuest’s specially selected eclipse viewing site, which offers hot drinks, shelter from the elements and nearby toilet facilities.

Svalbard Weather Prospects for Total Eclipse Viewing

2015gifby Eclipse Meteorologist Jay Anderson

Spitsbergen Island offers the best land-based weather prospects for this eclipse. Average cloud cover at Longyearbyen is a promising 56%, with a very low probability of overcast skies. The high terrain surrounding the town forces the prevailing easterly winds to make a downslope run into the community, drying the air along the way. In recent years the waters around the island have been ice-free in midwinter, contributing to a very mild climate for such a northerly latitude. The average daily maximum in March is a tolerable -13°C (9°F). Temperatures can plunge to the -30s, though, so eclipse seekers should dress for cold and wind – even if it’s a good bet you’ll find a much more friendly climate.

Eclipse and Aurora Combined?

The high latitude of the March 20, 2015, eclipse may offer a special added treat to observers in Svalbard: a glimpse of the aurora, or perhaps of ice haloes, during the magical moments of totality. Admittedly, both are long shots – but if the magnetosphere is particularly active on the hour, or if a thin cirrus overcast is present with just the right orientation of ice crystals, the unlikely may come to pass.

After the eclipse we return to our hotel for lunch. The rest of the day you’re at your leisure to enjoy another optional activity or just explore on your own around town. In the evening, join your fellow travelers for a celebratory eclipse dinner followed by another night of optional aurora viewing at Camp Barentz.


Day 5 – Saturday, March 21, 2015Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner



Today is yours to enjoy Svalbard as you wish. Relax at your lodge with a good book or choose from an array of optional activities (see the box above) that includes everything from ice caving to snowmobile excursions among the fjords and glaciers – or perhaps to an abandoned Russian mining town.


Day 6 – Sunday, March 22, 2015Breakfast / Lunch

Depart Svalbard for Oslo, Norway

After breakfast, check out of your room and join our group transfer to Svalbard Airport for the return flight to Oslo – where once again it’s a quick indoor walk to your hotel for the night. The rest of your day you are free to enjoy Oslo or prepare for your onward journey. Dinner this evening is on your own.

Overnight: Radisson Blu Airport Hotel

Day 7 – Monday, March 23, 2015Breakfast

Oslo – Onward

After breakfast and checkout, take the walkway back to the departures terminal according to your flight time.

IMPORTANT: TravelQuest, working with our partners, makes every effort to follow the published itinerary. However, please keep in mind that it is subject to change at the discretion of expedition staff, depending on weather and other local conditions.

Add-on - Sunday, March 15, 2015 & Monday, March 16, 2015Breakfast

Oslo Pre-Nights Option

If you’d like to arrive in Oslo a night or two ahead of our Svalbard departure, TravelQuest has reserved a limited number of standard rooms at the Radisson Blu Airport Hotel.

Cost: $220 USD per person, per night double occupancy. $345 USD per person, single occupancy and $260 USD per person triple occupancy. Rates include breakfast and tax.

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