Reviewed by: Patrick Cantwell
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

I had the privilege of setting sail on Arctica II on Wild Focus expeditions Svalbard Extreme in June. What an incredible experience, the scenery alone is worth the journey, however it is the amazing knowledge and experience that Jami, Theo and Heinrich provide that makes this trip exceptional. Spotting lone polar bears on ice flows several kilometres out at sea and manoeuvring the yacht into place for prime viewing is what you can expect with this team. The accommodation is cosy, yet warm and inviting, with all cabins having en-suite facilities. While we all chipped in with cooking, both Theo and Heinrich prepared their specialties. Enjoying a glass of wine while sailing this incredible archipelago and listening to stories from Theo’s many amazing travels, or sharing a cup of coffee in the morning with Jami’s beaming smile. A journey I will never forget. An incredible place, an amazing team, and spot on organization with Wild Focus Expeditions



Reviewed by: Wayne Woodward
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

Svalbard Extreme !!! What an adventure. When you board a small but comfortable yacht (Arctica 2) with a bunch of like minded wildlife adventurers who are up for an expedition ‘on the fly’ that relies on the Skippers local knowledge and the experience and talents of photographers Jami Tarris and Theo Aloffs you soon learn that you’re going to be up close and personal with the very best that Svalbard and the Arctic has to offer. A photographers paradise with the changing moods of nature’s seascapes and landscapes. Exceptional wildlife viewing, Polar Bears, Walrus, Seals, Arctic Fox + + and birdlife aplenty for even the most ardent of ‘twitchers’. Extreme Svalbard gets you eye to eye with it all. What an adventure this has been, so good that I would do it all again tomorrow.



Reviewed by: Boris Kester
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

From the moment I contacted Jami about joining their Svalbard Classic tour, I felt an enthusiasm that instantly made me impatient to actually step aboard the ship. Apart from that, a cool sense of humour told me that, even though I was traveling alone, I would be fine during the expedition.

When, days before the start of the expedition, SAS went on strike, things almost seemed to go wrong. Fortunately, I was able to book a flight on another carrier (as did the other participants), but I did arrive two days late. Jami did all she could to offer us a dogsledding tour on the day of our departure, which was a great introduction to the stunning landscapes of Svalbard.

As soon as we stepped on the M/S Freya, and were introduced to the bear guides Mette, John and Jens, and the crew of the ship, I knew Jami and Theo had managed to get together a great team which, on an expedition with only 12 passengers, is very important and makes a big difference. Everyone went out of their way to make the trip truly memorable. The bear guides were awesome (I already knew Mette and John from an Antarctica expedition, and Jens turned out to be the perfect addition), the cook managed to prepare dinners which were better every day, the staff served his creations with a big smile, the captain and his staff never tired of explaining us anything we needed to know about the route, the landscape, the ice conditions, etc. etc. The mechanics managed to keep the ship going flawlessly.

Jami and Theo: two complementary characters making for a great team. Warm humans with an open mind to all aboard. Always ready for a chat, for explanations about photography, for a joke, for stories of their adventures in remote places around the world. Inspirational!

I was especially happy for having chosen a small expedition (having been to Antarctica on a 100-pax ship). It makes it all low-impact, easy to deal with, gives you personal space, makes getting into zodiacs a breeze. It might cost more, but is definitely worth the money as you experience is much more intense.

A big thanks to J&T!



Reviewed by: Simran Gill
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

I have been with Jami and Theo for two trips to Svalbard. The Svalbard extreme was outstanding. We were in a small boat for many days scouting for wildlife and this trip gives you the real flavour of what a wildlife trip is all about: hard work, patience, struggle, living in harmony and most importantly being equal participants. I enjoyed every bit of my time in the 15 days. We had one of the best polar bear sightings. Wildlife is a lot of luck as well and we managed to see a lot of it (seals, walruses, birds, balugas, humpback whale, minki whale). The trip was organised meticulously by them. You will get to witness Theo’s humour as part of the package and it is hilarious :) I would recommend this trip to anyone who is ready to take up a challenge, enjoy wildlife at its best. Our captains were excellent and know the area extremely well.



Reviewed by: Ken Kushnir
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

I was unsure as to what to expect on my first trip with Wild Focus Expeditions for a number of reasons; I have never really been an avid photographer, I had never been to the Arctic, and I had never been on a ship longer than a ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria. All I can say is that none of these things mattered in the least! Our expedition to Svalbard was SPECTACULAR!

From the Dogsled trip on our first day, to the wonderful time we had aboard the MS Freya I totally enjoyed every aspect of this trip! Jami and Theo did an amazing job of organizing, hosting and teaching us about the islands and photography.

Our guides Jens, Mette and John were knowledgable about the Arctic and the wildlife we were observing and were constantly working to maximize our experience, while managing our safety, and minimizing our impact on the animals we were observing. All three have have become good friends.

The Captain and crew of the MS Freya were a true pleasure to be with and they took care of all of our needs while aboard. The other members of the expedition were also a pleasure to travel with!

I took more pictures than I could count of reindeer, seals,  walrus, foxes,  beluga whales, calving glaciers, icebergs, sea ice, spectacular mountain scenery,  and of course, polar bears! Some of them even turned out to be pretty good, thanks to advice and coaching from Jami and Theo!

Mary and I were thrilled to have had the opportunity to participate in this experience, and I am positive we will travel with Wild Focus Expeditions again in the very near future!



Reviewed by: Liz Ricklefs
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

Our trip to the Arctic was amazing and what fun ! Great to see a different and very important part of the world. The MS Freya was just right – it was comfortable, the food was delicious, the bear guides were exceptional – on the lookout for polar bears, arctic foxes, whales, seals, walruses, etc 24/7. We saw at least 18 polar bears ! What we found to be really special about Wild Focus Expeditions is Jami and Theo (owner/consultants) travel with you which means they are right there “real time” to make sure you have the exceptional experience that you expected. They try very hard to please ! Also, they are great fun and very knowledgeable about photography and the environment. Steve and I will travel with them whenever possible. (Actually, going to the Pantanal in September and Jami assures me that we will see Jaguars!)As you can tell, we were thrilled with our Svalbard experience and highly recommend Wild Focus Expeditions.



Reviewed by: Pat Baker
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

Great trip! Wonderful part of the world.  Very educational and upfront and personal about the very real dangers of climate change.

Comfortable ship, great guides, good food. Happy to have the opportunity to see that part of the ecosystem before it is gone



Reviewed by: Mary Kushnir
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

The Svalbard expedition was certainly a trip of a lifetime for me!  It is such a surreal setting, so beautiful yet so desolate at the same time.  We spent ten days on the MS Freya, a lovely, very comfortable boat with an exceptional crew, who spend so many hours making sure that the guests’ every need is met.  The food was amazing.  I am a vegetarian (the only one on the ship) and the chef created a separate dish for me every day.   Our three bear guides were very special.  Each of them has very different backgrounds,  and so bring considerable knowledge of wildlife, nature, glaciers, conservation to the expedition.  On top of that, they were fun, told crazy stories, and were a pleasure to spend time with. We spent quite a bit of time searching for and taking pictures of the wildlife that Svalbard is known for -polar bears, walrus, seals, arctic fox, reindeer, beluga whales, and so many arctic birds to name! I understand that our three or four sightings of arctic foxes was very rare, not to mention the nine different sightings of beluga whales.  On two occasions, we were totally surrounded by the belugas in our zodiac, and even had several swim under our boat!  Now I must talk about our trip leaders from Wild Focus Expeditions – Jami and Theo.  They happen to be friends of ours in Santa Fe, so I may be a bit partial.  But, not knowing what to expect on this type of adventure trip, I was a bit nervous.  Silly me – it was the best experience of my lifetime because of the amazing experience, organization and personalities of Jami and Theo.  They are so great at helping all the guests with cameras and photography.  They are constantly watching all the guests to make sure their needs are met and that they are having a good experience.  I am absolutely blown away by both Jami and Theo, and cant wait to sign up for our next trip!  I only have one regret – I chickened out when it came my turn to do the polar plunge! I guess I have to return to Svalbard so I can redeem myself!



Reviewed by: Dan Baker
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

Great trip with outstanding resources. Jami and Theo are not only extraordinary photographers but terrific travelling companions as well. The bear guides were knowledgeable and worked their tails off to find us numerous views of bears, fox, whales and walrus up close and personal. Beautiful ship with crew completely focused on making us all comfortable and well fed!
First rate experience in every aspect.



Reviewed by: Jeanette Fraser
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

No words to describe this amazing adventure with a group of like minded people who also are in love with nature and the Arctic. Our Wild Focus guides were so much fun and filled with knowledge and answered all our questions while keeping us safe. I will most definitely be returning to this magical place with endless landscapes to fill the heart with so much gratitude for life and the people that I was fortunate enough to share each moment with. Not only did we capture wildlife memories on film or in our photographs, we also captured friendships for life. Jami and Theo are beyond wonderful people, whom I have known for about ten years. I was fortunate enough to spend time in Alaska with them many years ago and knew they were special people then and were in my heart to stay. I now feel even closer to them sharing these magical moments in Svalbard. If you get the opportunity to join Wild Focus Expeditions on one of their unbelievable journeys, you will never forget the sights or the magic that the nature and landscapes has to offer. I love SVALBARD!! We already have discussed a reunion trip!! Thank you to the crew and Staff of the MS ORIGO. Outstanding food and cartoon drawings of our day to day events. I would recommend this expedition to anyone. Much love to all who were there.



Reviewed by: Bernie & Steve Olmsted
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

This was our first ever photo expedition and thanks to Jami and Theo, certainly will not be our last. Wild Focus Expeditions’ ability to structure and reach places on this planet that we never could accomplish on our own, was one of the big draws for this trip. And….our leaders and guides delivered. Before our trip began, we already had received the personal touch – as Jami met with me for lunch and put my mind at ease. She reviewed my equipment and made gear recommendations, as well as other hand holding. As for the trip, the handpicked guides of Jens and Audun was brilliant, as their knowledge of the arctic complimented Theo and Jami’s photography and nature skills.

We snowmobiled for the first time: what a great way to kick off the trip. Our boat, the M/S Origo was well matched with our goals, the crew very service oriented and quite accommodating – and the Chef kept us very well fed. We never imagined encountering our best ever lamb meal north of the arctic circle. Theo and Jami were attentive to our personal and photography needs, we definitely advanced our picture taking skills. We appreciated that you did not have to be a hard core photographer to learn from and enjoy this trip.

But best of all, our leaders and guides put us in position to experience and photograph nature and wildlife as we have never done before. Reindeer, arctic fox, seal, walrus, belugas, and most sought after – polar bear. That our zodiacs could be positioned to follow polar bear for several hours within a stones throw distance, is a testament to the skill set of those leading our group.

We highly recommend Wild Focus Expeditions, and eagerly await our next opportunity to travel with Jami and Theo. This was our first trip with them, but God willing, will not be our last. Thank you for such an amazing and unique experience!



Reviewed by: Kate
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

Another amazing excursion with Wild Focus Expeditions to a truly surreal location to observe & photograph some of the less seen creatures of our planet. An adventure of a lifetime not to be missed.



Reviewed by: Larry Lehner
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

Not knowing what to expect in such a remote area of the Svalbard archipelago I was consumed with the beauty of the Islands, Fiords and wildlife. This region is not for the faint of heart YET Theo and Jami put together a once in a lifetime safe experience for those desiring to photograph the beauty of this small area of our planet.

I consider myself an amateur photographer always eager to learn from experienced professionals. Both Theo and Jami are willing to both teach and critique which made this trip even better then one could expect. The guides, chef and crew were experienced and catered to all our needs. The food was gourmet considering where we were.

Lastly, this is the second trip in 10 months spent with Wild Focus Expeditions, the other being Kenya. I look forward to other opportunities to be among a small group in another part of the world with them.



Reviewed by: Simran Gill
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

This expedition was very well planned and I loved each and everyone in the group. Svalbard is unbelievably beautiful and we managed to see polar bears, walrus, seals, balugas and much more. Thank you Theo and Jami for such a wonderful experience and there can be no comparisons. It is a 5 star trip.19



Reviewed by: Nikhil Nagle
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

I had been looking forward to a Svalbard trip for a long time – so when I saw A chance to go with Wild Focus, I jumped at it.

The trip was perfectly planned by Theo and Jami – they were very patient in answering the numerous questions I had prior to the trip and guided the whole group expertly.

The expedition itself was with just the right size of people – 12 on a ship which could have easily accommodated more. Because of the small group, frequent zodiac trips were not a problem at all. Most of the times, the zodiac excursions get you the best images because of the low angle and the approach flexibility. Having a small group and expert guiding from the two Norwegian guides (Jens and Audun) who had been picked by Jami and Theo, was the key to our success in getting good images and having some wonderful sightings of polar bears, walruses, bearded seals and belugas.

Theo also held a workshop on photography during the expedition – I had attended it earlier but it is wonderful to hear Theo’s insights into light and composition.

More than anything else, Theo and Jami are really nice and warm – it was great to get to know them! The expedition was an added bonus.

I am already planning more trips with Theo and Jami ?

Nikhil Nagle



Reviewed by: Roshan Panjwani
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

The expedition was extremely well planned and executed. I had loads of questions in the run up to the trip, ranging from accessibility to photography gear, which the expedition leaders Jami and Theo answered with a lot of patience and aplomb. Beginning with the stay at the boutique Basecamp Spitsbergen, the nice, clear day out on the snowmobiles and finally onboard the MS Origo – the experience was once-in-a-lifetime.

Jami and Theo have rich knowledge of both wildlife and photography, which makes for great learning on the expedition. Looking at Theo’s pictures from all over the world, that he walked us through as part of his presentation on the ship, is a great lesson in understanding of light and composition.

The crew on board the ship was very helpful and hospitable. The food was exceptional – a special shout out to our chef! Our bear guides, Jens and Audun, were very knowledgeable and they, along with the captain and Theo and Jami, chalked out the best plan basis the weather and ice conditions. We were able to spot a diversity of wildlife including reindeer, walrus, seal, polar fox, a variety of arctic birds and of course, the apex predator of the Arctic, the polar bear! The count was about 13, including a mother and 2 cubs in the distance. We got up close to 2 polar bears and spent a good couple of hours taking pictures of each.

Overall, I would highly recommend this expedition – the small group (12) is a huge advantage, with speed of getting into the zodiacs as well as space to do photography, both from the ship and the zodiac. We also had a diverse group that got along very well, resulting in a great time on the ship while cruising. Humour from different cultures is always awesome!

Thanks Jami and Theo for the awesome experience ? If I do Svalbard again, I will do it with you guys only!



Reviewed by: Betsy and Larry Lehner
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

Svalbard May 2017 12 guests, 8 crew

This journey was our most unique – EVER!. We are 70+years, so that’s saying something!. Last year we took an unforgettable trip to KENYA with Wild Focus Expeditions.. THAT WAS AWESOME.. BUT this trip of opposite culture, climate, flora, fauna, transportation, and geography was so very unique and enriching..

Jami and Theo covered every traveler’s needs professionally and personally. The on site sea and land planning was precise.

Theo and Jami each gave a photo mini-seminar on board during down (travel) time.

Jami and Theo had interviewed and chosen VERY experienced Norwegian guides. Jens and Audun were genuine, knowledgeable, professional, accommodating and great humored. Every guest always felt safe.. The captain and crew of the retired ice breaker lead us on treks, zodiac exploration and snowmobiling..
We can’t forget our chef! Gourmet – for sure! Great humor – certainly. Clean – YES. Roger fixes ANY mechanical issue and then some.

The breathtaking photos that have been posted on FaceBook are telling. There is no where else on earth this could happen. Polar bears, seals, walrus, Arctic hare, Svalbard reindeer, beluga whales! yep all these were easily photographed. WRITE me about Wild Focus if you’d like! with questions. We extended 3 night stay in OSLO; also gorgeous, active, easily walked- on our own. KLM – great airline!



Reviewed by: Dan Williamson
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

We had previously been on a trip to Africa with Jami and Theo and had a fantastic time! During our trip they told us about this adventure to the North Pole that they were planning and it sounded amazing! Our only problem was that our daughter was graduating from High School in the middle of the trip. As GOD would have it, he had our daughter enroll in a different High School and my wife and I could now make the trip. Jami and Theo were so gracious and made sure we were able to secure a spot. Both Jami and Theo took care of us months before the trip ever started by contacting us to make sure we had just the right clothes, coordinating flights and spent hours with my wife making sure we had the right camera equipment. Once we arrived in Longyearbyen they shuttled us away to our base camp, which was a very friendly and enjoyable hotel for the night. It was amazing to walk outside at midnight and still have the sun shining like it was the early afternoon. Our trip turned out to be one of the most spectacular times of our life. We met great people, had tons of fun and laughed and cried at the same time. We saw ice bergs that were several amazing colors, arctic foxes, walrus, owls, reindeer and polar bears that followed each other near the glaciers, sometimes eating in their natural environment and ones that were so close you could almost touch them from the main boat as we cut through the ice. We took at least two trips a day on Zodiacs to get a closer look at the glaciers, animals, icebergs and surrounding land mass to be able to see the beauty of this area. We took short hikes in several areas and were able to get a much different perspective of the amazing arctic area and the animals that live there. Not only did we get great pictures through out the trip, but also we had the best crew and cooks to keep us happy and safe! I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves the outdoors, as it is truly a once in a lifetime adventure with Jami and Theo and Wild Focus Expeditions!



Reviewed by: Carol Sipus
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

I went with many misgivings since I had never been on an expedition before and do not like to be cold. I was also concerned that there would be physical challenges too difficult for me. It’s always satisfying to have done something hard and realize that you can do more than you think! Gorgeous scenery awaited us each day when we went out from the boat on the zodiac. One day we left the zodiac, climbed a small hill and sat looking at a serene lake surrounded with snow-covered mountains. Our guide said to sit and just be quiet. We truly heard the “sound” of silence–the most quiet moment I have ever experienced–unforgettable. The wildlife was fantastic: polar bears, walruses, seals, various kinds of birds, and reindeer. The polar bear behavior we saw was unique: a male pursuing a female with her checking to be sure he was following, a polar bear eating a seal for lunch, and a polar bear walking up to our boat–just a few feet away! I got terrific pictures of that bear and my husband is the photographer! Our expedition leaders Jami and Theo, the bear guides, the captain and crew of the boat were all superb–as was the food! All-in-all a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t change a single thing.



Reviewed by: Duane Wagner
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

Truly a trip of a lifetime. More than just a photography expedition, it was a deeply satisfying experience of the beauty, nature and history of the arctic. The accommodations were excellent, both on the ship Freya and at the lodge in Longyearbyen. The itinerary was well executed to provide many opportunities to get as close as possible to birds, seals, walrus, reindeer, polar bears, glaciers, etc. and to fully experience the natural beauty of Svalbard. Great planning by trip leaders Jami and Theo, who in addition to providing pre-travel gear and camera recommendations, were immensely helpful with photographic questions throughout the trip, and are quite simply wonderful travel companions. Our polar guides Ricard and Heather were fountains of knowledge regarding the wildlife, flora and colorful history of the arctic and the Freya crew made us feel at home on the ship. We made many new friends and brought back incredible photos and incredibly fond memories!



Reviewed by: Ann White
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

This was not my trip, it was my husband’s trip. I don’t like cold. I didn’t think I had much interest in polar bears or walrus, either… but I love my husband and he wanted me to go. So I did, and I can’t even articulate how glad I am that I did! I have never experienced anything like this, nor will I ever again. It was amazing and breathtaking as well as educational and thrilling. We saw it all on a roomy and comfortable converted Coast Guard ice-cutter and enough inflatables so that we all had a good view of what was happening right in front of us. We were up close and personal with polar bears (that I now truly care for), walrus (who are the clowns of the arctic), and reindeer (who look like medium-sized dogs with pig-like noses). We also came to know a variety of amazing arctic birds, seals and even a shy arctic fox. We saw everything on our list as if these wild things were placed for our entertainment. Actually the crew sometimes worked through the night to find them for us!

Amazingly, I was never cold. Jami and Theo prepared us perfectly, so that our experience would be enjoyable and comfortable, as well as educational. They also selected the crew and guides, who could not have been more accommodating. Jami and Theo were always engaging, fun and helpful. We could not have asked for more.

You should take this trip. You will never regret it, and may even find that it will be a highlight of your life, just as it is of mine.



Reviewed by: Adriana Morales
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

As a nature lover this was a trip of a lifetime, I always wished to go on an expedition out far into the wilderness and it came true with Wild Focus Expeditions. Being able to go out deep into remote wild places and experience wilderness at its best was wonderful. Theo and Jami are not only renowned wildlife photographers but they are great professionals and persons. Another important aspect for me is that they always work in avoiding creating an impact on the environment, the animals and their habitat, part of it is having small groups which makes the experience even more enjoyable. The crew from the Freya and the two polar bear guides were also amazing. In the future my husband and I will consider planning more trips with Wild Focus Expeditions.



Reviewed by: James White
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

Simply a life changing experience! The Arctic is a magical place, and with Wild Focus Expeditions you get to see it in a way that not many people get a chance to experience. With only 12 people we had two wonderful professional photographers at our disposal 24/7 as well as two wonderful guides/naturalists. We saw everything that the Arctic has to offer and came home with amazing photos, life long memories and many new friends.

Jami and Theo are professional, friendly and knowledgeable. You won’t find anyone who offers a better trip and a better value. I highly recommend Wild Focus Expeditions to anyone who wants a very special experience.



Reviewed by: Ron Sipus
Trip rating: Excellent
Country visited: Svalbard
Experience:

My wife and I were privileged to be part of the Svalbard expedition. I could not wait to go but my wife was very apprehensive. AS the trip progressed her perspective changed dramatically and it ended with her having an extremely memorable and positive experience. I should say that we also celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on the trip and Jami and Theo made sure it was a special time for us.

If you are looking for a once in a lifetime experience this is it. The accommodations were surprisingly comfortable, the food was excellent, the effort put into placing us in the right spot to see wildlife and scenery few are privileged to see was above and beyond. Jami and Theo are without doubt true professionals but beyond their professional expertise their personalities and genuine interest in the expedition participants created an atmosphere of fun, caring and true friendship. All which greatly enhanced the overall experience.
From my perspective the test of a great experience rests in the question, “Would you go with the trip leaders again”? My answer is unequivocally and resoundingly yes! Jami and Theo were as important to the overall success of our trip as was the remarkable place we were privileged to experience.



AVERAGE RATING

for 24 trips.

WRITE YOUR OWN REVIEW

Use the form below to submit your review. Thank you!