Svalbard / Spitzbergen

One more tour aboard M/V Silver Explorer, but this time further north into the Arctic to Svalbard. The group of islands belongs to Norway and is positioned between 74° und 81° north and east of Greenland.
Within a more or less small range, one can experience the whole beauty of the Arctic. Rough mountain landscape, glaciers that run down into the sea or fjords, plateaus with sparse vegetation, arctic desert and of course the sea and pack ice. Bird cliffs that are very busy during breeding season, reindeers, arctic fox, seals, walrus, depending on time of the year different species of whales and most important – the “king of the Arctic” – the polar bear. One cannot explore Svalbard by car. There are no roads or tracks and only few settlements mostly research stations, outside the main village Longyearbyen. The ones that are on tour by trekking, boat, husky sled or ski have to sign in (and out), apply for authorization, carry a weapon or even better travel with a guide. Not only the polar bears are protected but also wide parts of the land- and seascapes are nature reserves and approach is very restricted.
On our 10-day cruise we were accompaigned by 3 bear guards.

Tromsø – day on sea – Bjørnøya (Bearisland) – Hornsund, Burgerbukta and Gnålodden – the island Edgeøya, Kapp Lee and Diskobukta – Freemansundet – Olgastretet – along the edge of Bråsvelbreem – Wilhelmøya – Bjørnsundet – Hinlopenstretet – Birdcliffs Alkefjellet – Faksevågen in the Lomfjord – Zeipelodden (Wahlenbergfjord) and Palanderbukta at Nordaustlandet – 80°28’N 17°19’E we have reached the pack ice – Ny Ålesund – Fjortende Julibukta at Krossfjord – St. Jonsfjord – Poolepynten – Longyearbyen
Total distance of 1324 nautical miles
Shortest distance between vessel and North Pole: approx. 620 miles (not nautical)

Landscape and sights of wildlife:

  • White-beaked Dolphins and a Humpback whale with baby, seen on the way to Bjørnøya
  • Birdcliffs along Bjørnøja (u.A. Puffins )
  • Floating ice and Icebergs at Burgerbukta near Muehlbacherbreen (video )
  • Walrus at Kapp Lee
  • Sleeping polar bear at Diskobukta ( the reason why there was no landing…..)
  • Polar bear (female) with cub at Olgastretet
  • Birdcliffs at Alkefjellet
  • The never ending edge of Bråsvelbreen (approx. 112 miles)
  • Arctic desert and stone rings near Zeipelodden
  • Crusing the pack ice under blue sky ( the vessel has scandinavian ice break classification 1A ) and the propably most spectacular experience with a female polar bear ( video )
  • Hike onto the quite active calving Fjortende Juli glacier
  • Reindeers on a hike near St. Jonsfjord. Reindeers at Svalbard are wild animals and have no natural predators
  • Several sights of seals, mostly bearded seals

Svalbard and the Arctic in general has left a deep impact to us. Excitement about the wonderful nature, the rough landscapes, the silence. But Svalbard makes one thinking: We had temperatures up to 50° F ! As we were told by the bear guard Peter, the Hinlopenstreet is usualy not passable before August. Our Captain has found the pack ice quite a way further north and he has spent some time on searching for it. Polar bears that didn’t make their way to the ice will face a very tough summer with poor amount of food or even longer periods of fasting. Especially females with their cubs have to suffer a lot on this. Anyway it was a privilege for having the possibility to experience all this – let the fotos and movies speak……

click on the pic