pinterest verify Globerovers Travel Photography: Svalbard - Gateway to the North Pole

Svalbard - Gateway to the North Pole

If you want to be on top of the word, head up north towards the Svalbard Islands, gateway to the North Pole. However, if you don't have the guts to hike the remaining 850 km to the North Pole, a few days in Svalbard will be an unforgettable experience and really should not feel any different than being right on top at the Pole. Other than a world a snow during the nine winter months, there are lots of wildlife, including at least 500 polar bears on the main islands of Svalbard and another 2,500 in the wider region. In winter the polar bear roaming area is very large and you may not see any. Reminder that the polar night at Longyearbyen (the main village) lasts from 26 October to 15 February, so bring your flashlight as you will need it around the clock. Winter is spectacular with the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) dancing in the skies but temperatures can go down to -40C and lower with the windchill. The adventure travel operators in Longyearbyen are fully equipped so whether you go on a snowmobile, dog sledding or any other adventure, they have the right jackets and overall jumper suits for the extreme weather.

In summer, when the midnight sun lasts from 20 April until 23 August, it is bright skies 24 hours a day. There is much less ice and snow so the polar bears congregate around the icy regions of Svalbard. This is the best time of the year to spot the bears, which is best done through a boat cruise. These boats cruise around the islands and left-over snow covered areas in search of the bears. From the boat you and your long tele-focal lens can take NatGeo photos of the lovely bears!

In addition to bear spotting, winter escapades include dog sledding, glacier caving, snowmobiles, and cross-country skiing. Polar bears are a real danger here and going out of town, you should not travel without a guide who must by law carry a gun. Take this warning very serious. Don't wander out of town without someone carrying a gun. Some tourists have been eaten by hungry bears right in the village of Longyearbyen, and especially on the hills surrounding the village.

From Norway's capital, Oslo, the daily flight stops at Tromsø in northern Norway to pick up a few more adventure travelers. From Tromsø it is a 60 minute flight to the small airport outside the village of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard. An airport bus will be waiting and drop you off at your hotel or guesthouse. 

See more of Svalbard in my book, Frozen Zone.