On Swiss wings straight to the realm of the polar bear | Polarjournal
To experience the Arctic wonders of Svalbard on land and from water, one must first overcome the air. But being in the realm of polar bears and walruses are worth it (Photo: Michael Wenger)

The aftermath of years of travel disruptions to Svalbard and other regions of the world is still being felt. A lack of staff on the ground and in the air — leaving more work for those who are left is at the root of delays, cancellations and strikes. Scheduled flights to the far north are no exception to this. But there is another and more comfortable way, as one Swiss travel company is showing.

The Svalbard archipelago, also known as Spitsbergen, is the best and closest place for central Europeans to immerse themselves in the Arctic world. As the crow flies, it takes less than seven hours to arrive at the doorstep of the realm of polar bears and walruses. But, in the age of hub-and-spoke routes, a trip from Switzerland, for example, requires flying from Zürich to Oslo, and from there on to Longyearbyen. In some cases, a stop in Tromsø is necessary. If everything works out, the trip takes less than a day, but it normally takes two — three if you want to (or have to) stop over in Oslo. Flights to the Norwegian-administered territory are relatively few and, especially during the spring, regularly fully booked with people eager to visit what has become a popular travel destination. If you add flight cancellations due to various problems, it becomes clear that an expedition trip to Svalbard still begins in the civilised realms of home.

The only way to fly direct to Longyearbyen from Zürich is by chartered flight. It’s easier, more comfortable, less expensive and, most importantly, more environmentally friendly than scheduled flights (Photo: Kontiki Reisen)

There might be someone out there who prefers travelling that way, but most would probably prefer to reach the expedition ship problem-free and stress-free, comfortable, at the same time as their luggage and, increasingly, with as little harm to the environment as possible, by taking an energy-efficient aircraft or buying emissions offsets. Combining all this is quite possible with chartering aeroplanes and ships. Kontiki Reisen, the Swiss leader in the market for travel to Northern destinations, has been aware of this for quite some time. It is the only Swiss travel company to offer direct flights to Longyearbyen from Zürich for passengers aboard one of the chartered expedition ships Hondius or Sea Spirit.

In co-operation with Swiss airline Edelweiss, Kontiki Reisen offers round-trip travel to Longyearbyen, in connection with its three German and French-led, full charters of a small to medium-size expedition ship that will sail in the waters around Svalbard. Each cruise features expert guides during the entire trip, from the flight up to the expeditions to the Arctic tundra. After all, information is a key factor in making the trip a lasting experience — as will be the comfort and amenities on board the ship and the engaging lectures and excursions into the wonderful world of Svalbard.

Experiencing the glaciers of the Arctic and learning how the region plays a role in our own part of the world can be an eye-opener. That’s what providers like Kontiki Reisen want to encourage when they send their experts along (Photo: Michael Wenger)

Fully chartering an aircraft and a ship is always an economic risk, because the spaces have to be sold. This is especially true for trips to Svalbard as its popularity as a destination grows. But, on the other hand, chartering a whole plane offers guests a more pleasant connection to the far north and is more environmentally sound choice; instead of two or even three flights to Longyearbyen, the trip can me made in a single flight aboard a modern and energy-efficient aircraft. All guests fly on the same plane and then board the vessel together. No additional guests from other parts of the world are included on the exclusive charter trips, thus eliminating longer flights. This reduces carbon pollution and protects the environment, an aspect that is very important to Kontiki Reisen. It is not without reason that the company has carried the “TourCert” seal, a travel industry award for corporate responsibility and sustainability, since 2013.

These charter flights and ship tours also mean that there will be a certain “Swissness” on board with guests from German- and French-speaking Switzerland. But then, the expedition teams and the ship’s staff add an international touch, because on board it’s one big family, all united by one thing: a love and fascination for the Arctic.

This sponsored article is published as part of a partnership between PolarJournal and Kontiki Reisen

Links to the offers of Kontiki Reisen to Svalbard

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
error: Content is protected !!
Share This