Saturday 20 September 2014

Hornsund- Burgerbukta and Brepollen

Our last day in Svalbard for this Arctic summer season can be described in one word- STUNNING! We left behind the energetic windy, snowy conditions and they were replaced with light winds and blue sky (in patches at least!). Every second the soft, Arctic light seemed to change and provide yet more opportunities for the eye and for the camera.

We found ourselves in Horsund this morning after sailing south from Isfjord overnight. We turned in the sound then up and into Burgerbukta for a morning landing.  In every direction there were icy peaks interspersed with blue glaciers. And if you cared to look down, you were delighted with many Arctic plants and rocks of various colours, in a totally natural alpine rock garden! During the landing we were situated in front of several blue glaciers all sourced from the icefield above. There was an opportunity to stretch our legs on a hike up the ridge, around and down again. Some of us opted for a guided hike up onto a nearby glacier, and yet others kayaked in to the end of the sound and the foot of another glacier, always of course keeping a safe distance away. This late in the Arctic summer (tomorrow is officially autumn!) there were only a few birds flying over such as Arctic Terns and a few Arctic Skuas. Down the beach there were footprints on the beach running up from the water. Because of their dinner-plate size they could be created by only one animal- the Polar Bear! However, during the landing we were lucky not to encounter this top predator of the Arctic.

After the landing we sailed further into Hornsund to Brepollen. There we gathered on decks to take in the incredible landscape of this area. Some of us were comparing what we were seeing to similar locales such as Alaska and Antarctica, but most admitted that for today anyway, this was the most beautiful place they had ever seen.