A trip to Spitsbergen is a 'once in a lifetime experience' for many world travelers. A bucket list experience of many. This mysterious archipelago, which is officially Norway belongs, is located almost 3000 km from the heart of The Netherlands from. From the capital Lonyearbyen you have to travel a lot by expedition ship to get there. Each island has its own character. And if you pay close attention, you'll soon come face to face with arctic foxes, reindeer, or even a polar bear! With a bit of luck you can also see it northern Lights, which makes the whole experience extra complete. The chilling beauty of Spitsbergen will not leave you indifferent and is guaranteed to leave a deep impression on you.
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From our three-master we set course for Berzeliusdalen, a vast island where large patches of frozen mud and ice alternate with green and spongy mossy soils. This island is said to be 'the most beautiful valley in all of Spitsbergen', where ice, rock, water and a bright blue sky form an eye-catching whole. Before you reach this little paradise on earth, you have to prepare yourself for a tough climb and scramble: to get a good overview of this valley you will first have to climb some steep rocks. From the valley we climb to a large open field full of orange, yellow and green mosses. Don't be alarmed if you run into a group of female reindeer here, you could just take a picture of them from very close!
Our sailboat takes us further to the island of Hornsund. Hornsund is named after the distinctive 'horn sound' you hear here in summer. The horn sound is produced by the thousands of birds that breed in the green moss of the mountain. This is the island in Spitsbergen where the illustrious female trapper Wanny Woldstad hunted arctic foxes and polar bears in the 30s. Her house is still there by the way, so don't miss the chance to see it up close! It doesn't take much to understand why Wanny chose this island at the time; it is beautifully green and has a fairytale appearance.
Fortunately, she didn't catch all the arctic foxes in the 30s. We were several times watched from a distance by these beautiful animals. We felt well looked after! The arctic foxes were obviously wondering what we were doing here. It gave us the chance to take beautiful pictures. An amazing experience.
In the middle of Hornsund there is also a mountain that reaches into the clouds but is surprisingly climbable because of the soft moss that grows on it. While climbing this mountain you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of colorful rocks. The views alternate with bright blue ice floes and green mosses. It is really worth climbing this mountain in Spitsbergen.
Tip:: Want to learn more about Norway? Is it really as cold as they say, and what is the weather like? Read all about it in the blog 'Prejudice about Camping in Norway', on the website of Kampeermeneer.nl.
After Hornsund's midsummer night's dream, it's time to visit inhospitable Kapp Borthen. In this flat area there is an impressive attraction, namely a crashed German plane from the Second World War. The plane is still exactly as it was in 1942, when the German pilot made a (successful) emergency landing with it; there are even authentic bullets in front of the cockpit. You will find the wheels, motors and switches frozen to the ground up to tens of meters around the wreck. Don't forget to put on your wellies when you set out to see this remarkable piece of history. Your shoes will get stuck in the swampy layers of sand on the way there in no time!
Time for a little life in the brewery! Because life and breweries, you will certainly find them in the Russian mining town and end point of this journey through Spitsbergen, namely Barentsburg. About 300 Russian researchers, miners, construction workers live here together with their partners and children. Of course they need facilities. Barentsburg is working hard to attract tourists with new buildings. But let's be honest: as a real adventurer you find the old ruins that are still there much more interesting! Scattered over the island you will find meter high murals from before the war. Everywhere you see Russian slogans ("Russia is in your mind, but Spitsbergen in your heart"), green trees (they don't have them there) and socialist proverbs ("Communism is the aim"). Here in Barentsburg we toast to a special trip that you absolutely must have made once in your life.