"lukeduke's Spitsbergen (Svalbard) Page" Arctic by lukeduke
Arctic Travel Guide: 263 reviews and 553 photos
Spitsbergen is definitely the best base to explore the arctic.
Situated on half way between the northern end of Norway and the North Pole (ca.700km away of it, or, in other words: it is as far away from Oslo as the coast line of northern Africa!), it is as big as Danmark, but has only ca. 2000 inhabitants (mainly coal mine workers and scientists). Elsewhere in the world it is nearly impossible to live in these latitudes, but due to the gulfstream the sea never freezes on the western side of the archipelago, which is 60% covered by ice.
The three main settlements are Longyearbyen, Ny Aalesund and Barentsburg. Barentsburg is a russian enclave. It is the with no doubt most desolate place i've ever been (and maybe it's worth visiting because of this)! If you come to Spitsbergen you better stay in Longyearbyen, that has all the comfort you wish. It has also the most northern public airport in the world. But you must know, that as soon as you leave the territory of the village, you're completely alone, you should either have a local guide with you or carry a rifle yourself because of the ice-bear danger...cool, what??
Climate: Very dry (''polar desert'', as little rain as in the sahara), comparatively mild temperatures because of the gulfstream.
Average temp. january: -15.3 C
Average temp. july: 5.8 C
Period of total dark: mid november until begin of february
Period of total day: mid april until mid august
best season to travel: July until mid august; april (for snowmobiling)
adresses and phone numbers: www.svalbard.com
best literature: Umbreit, Andreas: Spitzbergen. Kiel: Conrad Stein Verlag 2000 (german)/ Bradt 1996 (english)
Summer: Boat trips, visit of Barentsburg (see pic), visit of a coal mine, if you're tough enough: surfing in the... more travel advice
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