Some time ago I announced that this summer I’m going to travel to Svalbard archipelago with one of my friends. We have started planning our trip, and till now we have booked the last night of our journey in Longyearbyen. We will be staying in Gjestehuset 102 hostel. It’s located about 2.8 km, from the city center, and I’m a little concerned about taking these walks, as this is a polar bear territory. But maybe I’m exaggerating.
Booking this hostel and our late departure flight at 9:10 p.m. means, that we are going to do sightseeing in Longyearbyen on the last day of out visit.
The northernmost campground
We are planning to spent our first night at Longyearbyen Campground, which is said to be the northernmost campground in the world. It is located just about 300m from the airport’s parking lot. As we should arrive in Longyearbyen at 1:30 a.m., thus spending a night there will be convenient for us.
The price is 120 NOK per person. On the campground’s website you will also find information about polar bear risk at the campsite:
“As a principle, each user of Longyearbyen Camping is responsible for his or her own safety. Due to fairly open terrain, permanent light, occasional traffic on the nearby coastal road at any time of the day and also almost always some activity on the campingsite itself, an undetected approach of a polar bear is very unlikely during most of the summer season. Since the opening of the service-building in 1985, there has been no polar bear visit on the campingsite at all during the summer season of Longyearbyen Camping (but a very few cases of a bear appearing nearby in summer – by far not every year, and running away when seeing people or chased away by the police before reaching the campsite). Therefore, in summer time guests abstain from having fire-arms and alarm system ready on the camping-site in summer – also in view of the risk of injuries caused by these safety equipment items. In periods where there is partly real darkness, …[read more]”
We are not yet sure if we will take our tent, or rent one at the campsite. This will depend on our plans for the next days of our visit.
Things I would like to do and see
As there is only two of us, we are not going to travel lonely into the wilderness. We will try to join some commercial tours or expeditions to see as much as possible.
Below I present a list of my reasons to visit Svalbard. It is a list of things that I would like to see and do during my visit. Probably, I won’t be able to fit all of this within our 11-day trip. I’m also concerned about the costs of our trip, as I might not be able to afford some things.
Do a few days of backpacking in Arctic
This is my first and most important part of the tour. I love backpacking and camping. I would like to spend 3-5 days backpacking in Svalbard’s wilderness. It probably won’t be a cheap tour due to need for a guide, but I’m sure it will be worth every penny. This kind of trip will allow us to fully experience Arctic climate. We will be able to see fauna and flora of Svalbard Island. This kind of trip would allow us to hike mountains and fiords. The camping during 24h day would be a different experience.
Kayaking or canoeing near glaciers and fjords
I’m interested in three to four day boat journey. This would give us a different view of fjords and glaciers. The landscapes as the one presented below, would probably stay in my memories forever. Also, a long paddling would be a nice challenge, and it would check my physical form.
Seeing Svalbard’s wildlife
First, I would love to see a polar bear in its environment! By this, I mean that I would like to see a polar bear from a safe place and distance, i.e. during a cruise. Although there is nearly 1000 polar bears in region, you still have to be lucky to see one.
Second, I want to see Atlantic Puffins in the wild. I remember reading about these birds, in one of the books I was given during my childhood. Hence seeing them would be something special for me.
Third, I would like to observe whales in the waters surrounding Svalbard. I had no luck in Hawaii, but maybe I will succeed this time. These beautiful sea mammals, were hunted for centuries, and it brought them nearly to extinction.
“Whales came close to being extirpated from the waters around Svalbard after Europeans harvested them for three centuries for blubber and baleen. One species, the bowhead, also known as the Greenland right whale, was reduced from perhaps 50,000 to fewer than a hundred individuals in the archipelago midway between continental Europe and the North Pole.[read more]“
Seeing the Midnight Sun
The Svalbard archipelago is located northward the Arctic Circle. During the spring and summer days (actually between 20 April to 22 August in Longyearbyen), the sun never hides behind the horizon. This is something completely different from things I had experienced in my whole life. Hence I wonder how my body clock will react to this kind of “anomaly”.
This should be a great opportunity for taking pictures, due to an extended golden hour (a golden hour on steroids). Unfortunately, there is also a drawback of the Midnight Sun – I won’t be able to see the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights).
I’m sure that this will be one of the best trips I ever had. I will try to update my see/do list if only other activities come to my mind.