An Arctic sojourn ( 2018)

Updated: Feb 15

Svalbard previously known as Spitsbergen, or Spitzbergen, is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Situated north of mainland Europe, it is about midway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole. The islands of the group range from 74° to 81° north latitude, and from 10° to 35° east longitude. The largest island is Spitsbergen, followed by Nordaustlandet and Edgeøya, and the largest settlement is Longyearbyen.

My good friend Farmer invited me to join him on a trip to the Arctic to try dog sledding and go on a two day ride to the desolate East coast on snow mobiles to look for polar bears. "

It will be cold", he warned me. "You will need to buy warms clothes and snow boots". He was right!

We flew from London to Oslo. From there, we took a flight to Trondheim in the far north of Norway. After an overnight stop in the terminal, we took a two hour flight to Longyearbyen, in Svalbard where the outside temperature was around minus twenty degrees centigrade..

In the days that followed, we went out on an icebreaker, learned how to control a dog sled and husky team, crawled inside a glacier, learned how to drive a snowmobile, spent two days exploring the East coast in a fruitless search for polar bears on snowmobiles, visited Svalbard's only brewery and hiked halfway up a mountain.

At times, the temperature fell to minus thirty degrees centigrade. It was probably even colder on the night we stayed in a small hut on the East coast.

Our visit have been preceded by a cold spell that froze the sea. In places, the ice was a metre thick. This meant that the polar bears had travel out of sight to edge of the ice in search of seals. We did see a female walrus and her pup and a lone Svalbard reindeer. This did not mean that our guide could leave his rifle at home...

The cold was not a problem as we had the right clothes and equipment. Being out on the East coast was amazing. Icebergs scattered across the frozen bay gleamed in the sunlight and looked like vast blocks of turquoise.

Thank you `Farmer for a truly memorable trip!

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