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, Arctic Adventure in Svalbard , Arctic Adventure in Svalbard

Baltic Travel Blog

Arctic Adventure in Svalbard

Posted on March 11th, 2020.

My journey to Svalbard starts with an overnight in Tromso, a charming little town by the fjord situated about 350 km North of the Arctic Circle. It is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights and upon landing pilot announces that Aurora Borealis is dancing outside! Determined to see them, I drop off my luggage at the hotel and take a taxi to Tromso cable car – Fjellheisen.

Tromso at night s 1

The picturesque ride takes just few minutes and as I step out onto the viewing platform, many spectators have their cameras ready. The night is clear and anticipation fills the air. Shortly after there is the first gasp and “wow” as the greenery appears in the sky. City lights should disrupt the view but it is spectacular with Aurora dancing above Tromso. After an hours display I walk back to my hotel. It is a scenic half an hour walk past the Arctic Cathedral and over the fjord.

Tromso Northern Lights

If you wish to experience Tromso and the Northern Lights, have a look at our Northern Lights Norway Short Break.

Early the next morning I make my short way back to Tromso airport and board a flight filed with excited travellers venturing half-way to the North Pole. Flight to Longyearbyen in Svalbard takes just under 2 hours and drive into town takes about 10 minutes. Along the route we pass the Svalbard’s Global Seed Vault, the world’s largest secure seed storage opened in 2008.

Longyearbyen main road

We check-in at the Basecamp Hotel situated in the centre of Longyearbyen, take off the boots in the lobby and walk to our rooms to refresh and layer up for our dog sledding adventure later in the evening. The Basecamp Hotel is very unique made of driftwood and a great starting place for your Arctic adventure. In the lobby you can grab a cup of hot drink, cookies and socialize with the fellow travellers about the adventures ahead. Woollen socks or slippers are recommended as, according to old coal miners tradition, boots are taken off as you walk indoors.

Basecamp Hotel

Basecamp Hotel breakfast

As the darkness arrives we are on our way to Trapper’s Station situated about 10 km outside Longyearbyen. Upon arrival we are greeted by Alaskan huskies and a wonderful Welsh guide. She tells us the basics about dog sledding and we are ready to harness our own team. One by one we go through the dog names on the list, find them, harness and get the team ready. They are eager to run and for the adventure to begin.

Trappers Station Svalbard

Trappers Station dinner place

As we leave the yard there is complete silence in the valley and the blue light is spectacular. We drive in pairs one sitting on the sled and the other driving. Halfway through we change and the route takes us back to the station for a well deserved and hearty meal. After storytelling about trappers and mushers of Svalbard, we are transferred back to the Basecamp Hotel for an overnight stay.

Svalbard dog sledding

Husky in Svalbard

Today we pack a backpack with necessities and are going on two nights snowmobile adventure to the hotel on the edge of the world – Isfjord Radio. We meet our guide, an adventurous Yorkshireman, go through the route, safety procedures, get dressed for the Arctic winter and get the introduction to our snowmobiles. After a short ride out of town we stop and the whiteness is mesmerizing. Guide explains about the gun and communication equipment he carries in case if we meet the king of the Arctic – a polar bear.

Snowmobile expedition

Svalbard guide

Weather is great and we spend about five hours enjoying the scenery along the route. Upon approach to the Isfjord Radio guide is informed that there has been a sighting of a polar bear nearby and we sit on a frozen fjord while he drives higher up to have a look around. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) the bear is gone and we are welcomed at the Isfjord Radio – a remote boutique hotel and the last frontier before Greenland.

Isfjord Radio sun

Isfjord Radio living room

The most remote sauna has been warmed up for us and we change into robes and big boots and are escorted by our guide and riffle to the sauna by the fjord. We agree on time he’s going to come and walk us back to the hotel. It is oddly strange feeling of not being able to venture outside by ourselves. Stark reminder is the boarded up window of a storage room marked with “polar bear exit”. The news also reached UK media in June 2018 about a hungry polar bear breaking into a store room at Isfjord Radio.

The next day we wake up to a mild snowstorm and lounge around the living room at Isfjord Radio. Weather plays a major role in the Arctic and routes for the day are decide according to it. After an hour or so weather starts to clear and we head out for another day of snowmobiling. The highlight of the day is the polar bear footprints in the snow.

Polar bear tracks Isfjord Radio Toril Basecamp Hotel

In the evening we are served delicious 5-course arctic inspired meal.

After a good night’s sleep we are ready for the journey back to Longyearbyen. We make a longer stop in a Russian mining town Barentsburg, the second largest settlement in Svalbard with around 450 inhabitants. After a visit to Lenin’s monument and a Russian lunch at a local café we continue to Longyearbyen arriving in late afternoon.

Barentsburg hotel

Barentsburg Lenin

We have a little rest before heading out for the last dinner at a Gruvelageret Restaurant in Longyearbyen. A cosy place with warm slippers, candles, open fire and a gourmet meal.

Gruvelageret Restaurant

Restaurant interior

In the morning we have a bit of time to visit the Svalbard Museum as well as North Pole Expedition Museum and have a walk around the town. The sky is blue and the mountain backdrop creates a dramatic scenery. It is the return of the sun day in Svalbard – 8th of March. Locals gather on the old hospital steps to celebrate the sun’s return. They say that ‘the sun is declared back in Longyearbyen when its rays reach the steps’.

Longyearbyen pedestrain street

Sun is awaited and celebrated in Svalbard and it is a very unique place for an Arctic adventure!

Svalbard sun

Similar holiday can also be arranged during the summer months where, instead of snowmobiles, you’ll be travelling to Isfjord Radio by boat. Have a look at our Arctic Experience in Svalbard.

By Daina Kontrima

Baltic Travel Company (all rights reserved)


Join our newsletter

Be the first to hear of Special Offers and travel news. To receive our monthly newsletters with more information, on the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun and all the countries Baltic Travel can take you to, and special offers, please enter your email address and press the sign up button.

We never allow third parties to use your data and we do not keep financial information. We protect your data as if it was our own, because we're people too!


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