Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Fantastic week around Svalbard

We started our circumnavigation of Spitsbergen with a visit to the Russian settlement Barentsburg. A short sightseeing with local guides gave a good overview about the history and living condition of today’s inhabitants of this still active mining town. A culture show with dances and singing brought us closer to Russian culture.

The second day started quite cloudy and foggy in Krossfjorden, but it was highlighted by a spotting of a polar bear with a cub, resting under a cliff at Signehamna. We continued our way to Ny Alesund and were lucky to see another polar bear with a cub quite close to the settlement. We got to know that Ny Alesund was once the most northern permanent settlement in the world, a mining community until they closed it down in 1963. Now it’s a research station with 30 – 100 scientists, depending on the season. After the short introduction to New Alesund we had enough time to explore ourselves and see the remains of polar expeditions which started from there.

The third day became very busy, but started with a calm landing in Raudfjorden, at Alicehamna. The afternoon landing at Ytre Norskoya had to be cancelled, because we spotted a polar bear in the area. But on our way we met a very playful humpback whale, that was giving a big show around the ship. So the expedition team decided to go to Magdalenefjorden instead, what proved to be a very good decision, as it was incredible there. Sunny, warm, no wind and white sand – so also perfect  swimming conditions for the brave, that were not scared of the 6 degrees cold water. During the night we passed 80° north and Moffen Island.

On our fourth day we started with a polar circle boat trip to Alkefjellet, “The New York” for the Brünnich´s Guillemots – that nest in this huge basalt formations and were flying around us at all times.  Despite of the fog we could do the afternoon landing at Torellnesset as well, where we could go really close to a big walrus colony laying at the beach. The fog that closed in stayed also the whole night and even the next day. 

So we had a day on the sea, closed in by fog and clouds, but perfect for a resting day, watching the ice floats and for lectures. All our landings to Kapp Waldburg, Kapp Lee were cancelled.
The sixth day in Hornsund started with cold wind and rain, but our landing at Burgerbukta with different activities like glacierwalking, kajaking and a trip with the polar circle boat could start like planned, just before we left the area we saw beluga whales next to the ship. During the night we went out a bit into the open sea to get the chance to see some whales.

Our last day on sea started with a landing in Isfjorden, in Trygghmana, were we had sunny conditions again, perfect for our glacierwalk and for the polar circle boat tour. The trip continued to the abandoned mining settlement Pyramiden along the various landscape of the Isfjorden. The evening we spent either in Pyramiden or in front of the beautiful glacier front of Nordenskiölbreen.

We reached Longyearbyen harbor during the night full of nice memories and pictures in our heads.   

Pay phone in Barentsburg

Fantastic culture show in Barentsburg
First polarbear this trip

The worlds northernmost train in Ny Ålesund

The worlds northermost settlement

Polarbear and cub just outside Ny Ålesund

Classic Svalbard view

Always on the lookout


Kayak adventure in arctic waters
Swimmers in Magdalenafjord

The beautiful Magdalenafjord

Manuel found a polarbear on Ytre Norskøya so we had to cancel the landing. After all the polarbear is the king, and we are just visitors. 

Humpback whale

Very close to the ship

Birdcliff of Alkefjellet

Thousands of Guillemots 

Very hectic activity

The New York of birdcliffs



A shy Walrus

Out cruising in the ice


Small man in big nature

Magic kayaktrip in the ice

Glacierhike in Burgerbukta

Born this year and almost ready for winter

Reindeer in the green fields of Alkhornet

The famous Alkhornet