Journey to the mysterious and captivating islands of the extreme north, in the company of celebrated National Geographic photographer Sisse Brimberg. Witness majestic polar bears as they wander through the frozen landscape and capture incredible photographs of imposing glaciers rising from the icy waters.
Sisse Brimberg and Better Moments CEO Christian Nørgaard, help you discover the hidden secrets of Svalbard, in a way that few visitors ever get the chance to. Learn about Sisse’s life-long career with National Geographic, during which she visited Svalbard countless times, and also profit from Christian Nørgaard’s extensive knowledge about the archipelago to which he has already let multiple expeditions.
PLEASE NOTE: Travelling in the Arctic can often be unpredictable, so the itinerary may change to suit local weather conditions. We may also alter course to make sure we get the best shots, depending on where the polar bears happen to be at the time.
Svalbard expert Sisse Brimberg has photographed more than 50 stories for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines. She has spent most of her career working in Asia, Europe, shooting stories from the Arctic and Scandinavia to Italy and France.
Sisse has been awarded prizes by Pictures of the Year International, the National Press Photographers Association, White House Press Photographers Association, and Communication.
Christian Nørgaard is the founder and CEO of Better Moments. For years he has photographed and traveled extensively in Asia and has received wide acclaim for his unique photographic talent. In recent years he has also collaborated with Steve McCurry and other National Geographic’s leading photographers for exhibitions and events. His workshops in Burma and India are unique opportunities for any photographer to combine adventure, travel and reportage photography and to work with one of the best in the field.
Longyearbyen is the largest settlement in Svalbard with a population of about 2000, named after its founder, American industrialist John Munro Longyear. Upon arrival we will transfer to the hotel for an introduction and pre-workshop briefing, conducted by Sisse Brimberg and Christian Nørgaard.
In morning, we set sail on the M/S Stockholm, a charming classic ship built in 1953. This small but comfortable vessel carries a maximum of 12 passengers in well-equipped cabins, allowing us to navigate waters that few larger ships can reach.
Our primary mission is to photograph polar bears as they make their way across the drifting ice. Polar bears are quite plentiful in Svalbard and together with two local guides, we will set the course to where they are most likely to be.
We sail out through the beautiful fjord, between snow-capped mountains – heading towards some of the most remote landscapes in the world. Throughout the journey, we will attempt to make daily stops on the coast using our Zodiac boats, bringing you as close as possible to wildlife and points of interest.
After welcome drinks and dinner, Sisse Brimberg will present her first of many lectures on wildlife photography and her experiences working for National Geographic in Svalbard.
Sailing towards the ice and keeping an eye out for polar bears, we make our way up Forlandsundet, alongside the Prins Karls Forland island. This narrow strip of land is home to various seabirds, as well as harbour seals. To the other side, a multitude of picturesque fjords cut into the shore. Depending on the ice conditions, we will explore some of these inlets and make land using the Zodiac boats to capture some dramatic landscape and wildlife photography.
During the day, Sisse Brimberg and Christian Nørgaard will hold private portfolio reviews and workshops on deck. Both photographers have spent countless hours photographing the awe-inspiring scenery of Svalbard, and share their local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of every location.
After dinner we share photographs shot during the day, while Sisse Brimberg and Christian Nørgaard give constructive criticism – helping you adjust your shots in preparation for the next day of photography.
Making our way past Kongsfjorden, where adventurers Nobile and Amundsen launched their famous flight to the North Pole in 1926, towards the islands of Amserdamøya and Danskøya, where the shore of Virgohamna is still littered with remnants from previous expeditions launched here in the early 1900’s. There are still intriguing artefacts scattered here from American explorer and journalist Walter Wellman’s attempt to reach the North Pole by airship. There are good chances to spot walruses, seals and other wildlife along the way.
Following the coastline eastwards, we will see some of the largest and most spectacular fjords in Svalbard, including Liefdefjorden or “the fjord of love”. Hopefully, if the ice allows, we will sail up this inlet to photograph the towering Monaco Glacier. Alternatively, we can explore the Krossfjorden or Raudfjorden, both with their own beautiful glaciers. These fjords are also home to large populations of seals and birdlife.
In the evenings, Sisse Brimberg will conduct workshops and share some fascinating knowledge about Svalbard, accumulated over the years of photographing landscapes and wildlife for National Geographic.
Cruising down the Hindlopen Strait we pass spectacular basalt cliffs, home to an estimated 200,000 Brünnich’s guillemots, also known as the thick-billed murre. Making our way along the island of Nordaustlandet, we will witness a magnificent landscape covered with hundreds of waterfalls, an incredible sight to behold!
This is also where we have the best chances of encountering some of Svalbard’s most photogenic wildlife, including walruses, the much-admired Svalbard reindeer and the elusive Arctic fox. Hugging the coast, and using our Zodiac boats, we will have excellent opportunities for landscape photography and chances are good that we will also encounter polar bears along this stretch.
Sisse Brimberg and Christian Nørgaard will offer individual feedback on the photos taken so far, with one-on-ones as well as group sessions.
In the morning, we visit the most famous landmark and political center of Tibet, the Potala Palace. The approach to the Potala requires climbing many steep steps, so we take it slowly. Once inside we explore the many rooms with their beautiful murals and sculptures.
After lunch, we take a short drive to the Sera Monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa. Here we will have a chance to mingle freely with the monks and print our own sutra texts on traditional long paper. In the debating courtyard we will witness the monks honing their debating skills in an elaborate clapping ceremony. After dinner, workshop on today’s photography.
Arriving back in Longyearbyen, we will enjoy a farewell breakfast on board of the M/S Stockholm before leaving the ship to prepare for the journey home.
September 16-25 – 2019
Number of guests: 8-12
Local transport: Boat
Exertion level: Easy
Accommodation: M/S Stockholm
All excursions. We will use 2 Zodiac boats when we cruise the arctic waters of Svalbard searching for wildlife or going ashore for hiking. This will give all photographers great flexibility when taking pictures.
Meals: All meals included
transport to/from country
Visa and taxes
Thanks for choosing Better Moments for your workshop.
€9,995 in shared double room.
€13,500 in single room.
All prices are per person.
Groups sign-up a group of 4+ participants and receive a group discount.
Better Moments is a member of the Travel Guarantee Fund, your guarantee that traveling with Better Moments is a safe experience.
Svalbard’s only international airport, Longyear Airport in Longyearbyen, is served by SAS with almost daily flights from Oslo and Tromsø in Norway. Flight times are 4 hours from Oslo and less than 2 hours from Tromsø. The airport is located about 5 km (3 miles) from the town of Longyearbye.
Better Moments will arrange one pickup transfer and one return transfer to the airport on the arrival- and the departure day.
Norway is a member of the Schengen Agreement. Nationals of EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) countries only need a valid national identity card or passport for entry. All other visitors are required to have a passport valid for at least three months beyond the intended stay, and some will need a visa. Please check with the local embassy.
We have chosen September where the light is soft and Svalbard offers beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Likewise, we are probably the only ship in the area, which is a great advantage for our photography.
Svalbard has an Arctic climate tempered by the warm North Atlantic Current. Due to the convergence of cold air from the north and mild, humid air from the south, weather conditions can change quickly and often, with occasional strong winds and wind chills.
The official language is Norwegian, but almost all Norwegians speak English.
The Norwegian monetary unit is the Krone (NOK)
The Svalbard Museum in Longyearbyen is an impressive, recently inaugurated exhibition space. Themes include the life on the edge formerly led by whalers, trappers, seal and walrus hunters and, more recently, miners.
At the gallery in Longyearbyen you can see the Svalbard collection of old maps and books, a slide show from the photographer and composer Thomas Widerberg, and an exhibition of Kåre Tveter’s paintings. From time to time there are also sales exhibitions.
The Longyearbyen Church is open for visitors every day and there is a service nearly every Sunday. Every Tuesday evening, the church sells coffee and Norwegian waffles. Here you get to know Longyearbyen and the people better.
The cable trestles are cultural monuments over the manual driven coal mining in Longyearbyen. At that time, the coal was transported in “kibs” (carriers) on the cable way to the cleaning plant.
The Svalbard Islands are home to seven Norwegian national parks: Forlandet, Indre Wijdefjorden, Nordenskiöld Land, Nordre Isfjorden, Nordvest-Spitsbergen, Sassen-Bünsow Land, and Sør-Spitsbergen.
Little known but amazing natural attractions of Svalbard are the diverse springs. Fløtspingo and other Reindalen pingos are the highest pingos in Svalbard and some of the highest open system pingos of the world, up to 42 m high. Hot and thermal springs, for example Jotun Springs, Troll Springs and Tempelfjorden thermal submerged spring.
One day trip by boat to the Esmark glacier and Oscar II Land and the Russian mining settlement looms on the side of the mountain above Grønfjorden. During the cruise, the guide will provide useful information about Svalbard.
Emergency phone number: 112
Basis of rates:
All prices are quoted in Euro (€). The prices are based on current tariffs and are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, if it is necessary to levy a surcharge, we reserve the right to do so, and notification will be given at the time of final invoicing.
A deposit of €1000 is required at the time of booking. Final payment is due no later than 150 days prior to departure. For reservations made within 150 days of the departure date, full payment is required when the reservation is accepted. In order to participate on a Better Moments workshop the participant must have made full payment prior to the start of the workshop.
The payment terms can be stricter when the workshop includes chartered ships or planes, and any variation will be communicated clearly on the invoice.
Cancellations and refunds:
All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective on the date, which the letter is received by Better Moments. There is no cancellation charge until 150 days before departure, however we will deduct an administration fee of €300 from the repayment of the deposit. The cancellation charge between 150 and 120 days before departure is €1000 (i.e. the deposit). Cancellation charges less than 120 days before departure are expressed as a percentage of the total price, and are as follows: 119 – 90 days before departure 25%; 89 – 60 days before departure 50%; 59 – 30 days before departure 75%; 29 days or less before departure 100%. This policy also applies to pre- and post-trip extensions. Any airline tickets issued are subject to the carrier’s refund policy. Leaving a workshop in progress, for any reason whatsoever, will not result in a refund, and no refunds will be made for any unused portions of a workshop.
We reserve the right to cancel a workshop because of inadequate enrollment that makes the trip economically infeasible to operate, or because of good-faith concerns with respect to the safety, health, or welfare of the participants. If a workshop is canceled prior to departure, you will have a choice between a full refund or a credit towards a future Better Moments workshop equivalent to amount paid. If we cancel the trip in progress, you will receive a pro-rata refund based on the number of days. We are not responsible for any refund for airline tickets, hotel accommodation etc. purchased by the participant. In the event of the specified photo expert being unable to attend due to illness or other circumstances beyond our control, a photo expert of the same standard will be provided. If this is not possible, then the workshop will be cancelled and the provisions above will come into effect.
In order to participate in a workshop you are required to have comprehensive insurance coverage for personal accident and injury, medical and repatriation costs during the workshop. In addition we strongly recommend that you arrange cancellation and travel insurance covering the loss, expenses and damages arising from, including but not limited to, the cancellation of the holiday (whether in whole or in part), loss of baggage and personal money and belongings, as well as flight cancellations and delays.
The itineraries and staff presented in this catalog are subject to modification and change by the Better Moments workshop or its designated tour operator. Every reasonable effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but alterations may still occur after final itineraries are sent.
You must be in good physical and mental health. Any physical condition or treatment requiring special attention must be reported in writing at the time of booking. By registering for a Better Moments workshop, the participant certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical, or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other participants. Better Moments and its designated tour operator reserve the right in their sole discretion to accept, decline to accept, or remove any participant on a Better Moments workshop and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of participants.
If you have special requests, e.g. dietary, cabin number, bedding type, airline seat or other requests, you should inform us of these at the time of booking. We will advise the relevant supplier of your requirements, but we cannot guarantee that such requests will be met, and will have no liability to you if such requests are not met.
We reserve the right to take photographs or videos during the operation of any workshop or part thereof and to use the resulting photography, videos, or recordings for promotional or commercial use. If the participant prefers that his/her likeness not to be used, he/she must notify us in writing prior to de- parture.
Better Moments and its designated tour operator and tour administrator shall not be held liable for (a) any damage to, or loss of, property or injury to, or death of, persons occasioned directly or indirectly by an act or omission of any other provider, including but not limited to any defect in any aircraft, watercraft, or vehicle operated or provided by such other provider; and (b) any loss or damage due to delay, cancellation or disruption in any manner caused by the laws, regulations, acts or failures to act, demands, orders, or interpositions of any government or any subdivision or agent thereof, or by acts of God, strikes, fire, flood, war, rebellion, terrorism, insurrection, sickness, quarantine, epidemics, theft, or any other cause(s) beyond their control. The participant waives any claim against Better Moments and/or its designated tour operator and tour administrator for any such loss, damage, injury, or death.
Better Moments and its designated tour operator and tour administrator shall not be liable for any air carrier’s cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a non-refundable ticket to or from the participant’s Better Moments workshop departure city. It is the sole responsibility of the participants to organize their own transportation to and from the meeting point as described in the workshop itinerary, e.g. airport, hotel, and to ensure timely arrival. The participant should not book flights and/or hotel accommodation until Better Moments have issued final confirmation for the workshop. In the event of late arrival it is the responsibility of the participant to join the workshop, and to carry all associated expenses. Better Moments is not liable if the participant misses any portion of, or the entire workshop as a result of the delay. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the responsibility of the participant.
Other terms and conditions may apply to some workshops, and details will always be provided with pre-trip mailings. By making the deposit payment, the participant agrees to the terms and conditions and the responsibility statements herein on behalf of all the individuals included in the booking.