Two weeks ago I was just wrapping up a trip to a place that had only ever existed in my dreams – Svalbard.
Never heard of it? Don’t worry, many people haven’t. I probably would have either except for the fact that I’m a huge nerd. While I won’t hold my breath, I hope that at least some of you guys are on the same page as me, and know about Svalbard from the magical, mystical, glorious Golden Compass books from childhood.
Yes, I traveled to the ends of the earth because of a kids book I read when I was a teenager. Who wouldn’t?
Anyways in these books, Svalbard exists as the kingdom of polar bears. And even though it’s fiction, I realized long ago that it’s based on a place that actually exists also called Svalbard, which is the real-life kingdom of the polar bears. Except these ones don’t talk or wear armor. But close enough.
So for the past decade, and I mean DECADE, I have dreamed about seeing the real land of the polar bears. And boom, it finally happened last month with Eclipse Travel.
How amazing is it that books and literature, even fiction, can inspire us to go out and have our adventures and see the world?
I also just realized I haven’t blogged in a month. SORRY!
Also known as Spitsbergen, Svalbard is just about as far north as north goes. Longyearbyen, the main settlement is located at 78°N – to me, that is basically the end of the world. Though it’s surprisingly well connected with the rest of Europe with only 3 hour flights north direct from Oslo. Even though it’s part of Norway, it’s also not. I don’t understand the logistics of it but you do go through immigration to go to Svalbard.
And it’s some kind of tax haven, which means CHEAP BOOZE!
We spent 10 days on the expedition ship MS Ortelius circumnavigating Svalbard at the end of August with Eclipse Travel and I don’t say this lightly, it was seriously one of the coolest trips I’ve ever done. I was already thinking when I could come back before we even docked back at Longyearbyen.
But be warned, polar travel is addicting. Once you get a taste for this epic uninhabited wilderness, you will be hooked.
I’ve got so many stories to share with you guys but I thought I’d first give a little teaser of some of our best photos of the amazing adventures on Svalbard for a week. Enjoy!
Have you ever traveled to a place you’ve read about in a book? Have you heard of Svalbard? Is it on your list? Share in the comments!
We got on and off our ship the MS Ortelius via these zodiac boats
Exploring the research town of Ny-Ålesund – the northernmost settlement in the world
Spotting polar bears roaming the pack ice in the north of Svalbard
Even though it was August it snowed a few times on the trip
60% of Svalbard is covered in glaciers
Looking out for the most amazing birdlife along these cliffs
Icebergs washed up on the beach by the 14th of July Glacier
View from the porthole in our room – I was in a 4 person girl bunk room and it was so much fun!
Reindeer roaming along the tundra
One of the many historic trapping huts and cabins around Svalbard
The Bråsvellbreen glacier – the 3rd largest ice cap in the world
In Svalbard, it’s the law to carry a rifle outside of the settlements because of polar bear danger
One of the many amazing glacier waterfalls we were lucky enough to witness
Even though it was summer, we still have a few subzero days on the ice
An arctic fox nabbing a meal
One of our last landings and the location where we did a polar plunge
The tundra is riddled with bones and antlers
Cruising through the pack ice
One of the many hikes on a landing
The final polar bear we saw on land