Svalbard Expeditions: Explore mighty Svalbard: adventure and relaxation in the Arctic
TEXT: EVA-KRISTIN U. PEDERSEN | PHOTOS: ERIC HORNSUND
You may not think that a holiday in wild and mighty Svalbard would make you relax, but prepare to alter your expectations – and get ready for some serious adrenalin kicks.
Since 2019, Thomas, Hilde and Einar, all with extensive experience of living and working in Svalbard, have been organising trips for tourists who want to explore the Arctic Norwegian island. What started with skiing expeditions, climbing and skiing different mountains every day while sleeping on a sailing boat, has developed into a fully-fledged holiday offer with different types of cruises to choose from: the original Sail & Ski, an Explorer Cruise with activities ranging from stand-up paddling to snorkelling and skiing, and the Photo Cruise, a hunt for the perfect photo led by a professional photographer.
Instagram can wait
Regardless of what your choice is, as soon as you step onto the boat – a well-equipped sailing vessel with a Jacuzzi and spacious cabins – to sail out into the Arctic Sea, you will almost immediately feel the ease of living in a place without mobile coverage. Instagram will simply have to wait as you set out into the wild. And what wilderness it is.
Amazing – and wild – wildlife
“When the weather is calm, you can expect to see whales here at Svalbard,” says Hukkelås, explaining that the beluga whale is the most common. Other whales that love Svalbard’s water all year round include bowhead whales and narwhals. In the summer, they are joined by several others, such as humpback whales and orcas.
Summers in Svalbard are also great for bird watching, with an abundance of different arctic species. And on land awaits the mightiest creature of them all: the polar bear. “We always bring rifles when we go on land, and we check the area for bears beforehand,” explains Hukkelås, who also stresses that they never go close to polar bears, for the safety of humans but also out of respect for the bear.
Sky on fire
So when is the best time to go? “It depends on what you want to do,” explains Hukkelås, who says that April and May are best for skiing, while September, when the sun is low over the sea, has the best light for photography. “It’s difficult to explain, but it’s like the sky is on fire,” he says.
In spite of the challenging surroundings, Hukkelås underlines that Svalbard Expeditions are for everyone – there are no prerequisites. You only need to be careful when packing. There’s a long list of items to bring listed on the website, but Hukkelås says that one thing stands out: “You can never have enough warm clothes.”
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