Real Huskies are a few feet away
Our cruise excursion took us to a Wilderness Center where we met Husky dog trainers who teach dogs to pull sleds. They told us about the dogs, how they are trained, and gave us a demonstration of hooking them up to sleds. The dogs were excited at the thought of pulling the sled, but, after a couple of minutes, they realized they wouldn't get to run, the dogs lay down and rested. There is a real rapport between the trainers and dogs. Fun fact: the fastest dog is often chosen to be trained as a leader and it's generally a she. That way the trailing dogs won't overrun the leader, but they'll lustfully chase her.
Snowmobile safari to the Eastcoast
This is the longest trip they have from Longyearbyen: usually it takes 8 to 10 hours. The most important thing about this trip is your clear awareness - are you a driver or a passenger? If this is your first time driving snowmobile (even if you are quite experienced car or any other sort of transport driver) it will probably be quite a challenge to start with this excursion. Try more lighter one - like tour to Templefjord (it takes about 6 hours). The guides will tell you that it is actually a big fun and just piece of cake driving a snowmobile but try to remember one thing before you are going to believe them: you have to hold the helm tight and rule the mobile during the whole day! And if your shoulders will become stone in 2 hours because of the strain there will no be any possibility to leave your snowmobile. You will have to go through all the ups and downs by yourself. And you will have lots of them! It is really an adrenalin when you drive it through the flat area on a big speed (like crossing the ice surface of the fjord - as flat as table), but you will have hills on your way as well which require more technical driving. So just be sure you are ready. The trip is definitely worth taking because seeing the Arctic wilderness is a great experience! Do not be worried about the warm clothes because they will give everything you need: arctic suit, boots, balaclava, helmet and warm cuffs. But extra wool socks will be needed anyway!
Take the dogs for a run
We went to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, with 2 friends. They took the huskie-pulling-wagon tour with Svalbard Villmarkssenter, and had a terrific time, with tea and cake in an old, historic cabin. They were also offered "warm suits", which they foolishly refused and froze. We took the tour with Svalbard Huskies, and weren't as impressed by the organisation, tour commentary or tea. And although we got to sit on reindeer skins, there was no warm suit on offer. So, for the same price, my recommendation is the former.
Still, the dogs really enjoy their run, although they get very hot in temperatures above 5oC and need to stop for lots of water. They're not vicious, like one expects huskies to be, and we helped "saddle" them for the ride too.
This is a nice relaxing trip, although it can be slightly bumpy. Not recommended for anyone with serious back problems.
- Travel with Pets
- Adventure Travel
- Road Trip
Kayak to Hiorthamn - Svalbard Wildlife
It was great to kayak across the Adventfjord. I love kayaking, and enjoyed the opportunity to kayak in very cold water using first class equipment. We got dry-suits, with good instructions on how to put them on, wool socks, rubber boots, life jackets, and gloves. Recommendation - wear a good amount under your dry-suit; they're not that warm. I had long-johns, socks and a t-shirt on, and that was not quite enough. Also, the boot sizes are men's sizes (European), so take off a size or two if you're a lady. Our Finnish guide with the unpronounceable name was very friendly, knowledgeable, practical and helpful. As is the habit of Svalbard guides, he took a rifle and signal gun for the unlikely appearance of polar bears. Our kayaks were pretty stable, and with a good splash skirt not too much water came in, despite the small (50 cm) waves. I even managed to take pics while paddling!
We had a lovely lunch on the other side of the fjord. It was high quality "expedition food", once again excellently explained and presented by the guide. I had the goulash - highly recommended, with real chunks of beef! We also had tea, coffee and biscuits. If you're considering taking a longer kayak tour, I would highly recommend this as an introduction. After lunch we had a guided exploration of the mining remains, which were also interesting.
The total trip was about 8 km, so not recommended for the totally unfit. However, the kayaks were stable, and there was no capsizing (didn't even come close). The water was quite shallow in places (0.5 m) and so even if we had capsized the worst would have been the sudden thermal shock.
Finally, we put the kayaks away, and rinsed the equipment. Highly recommended!
- Historical Travel
This was my personal highlight in Longyearbyen!
The church of Longyearbyen is open all day (and night), and even if nobody is there to welcome you, you still feel welcome! Of course you have to take off your shoes (see my local custom tip), but there are plenty of slippers there to choose from! You then go up the stairs and enter a room with chairs and tables and sofas - the perfect place to sit down and relax! And a little further there is the actual church with the altar, cross and icons/pictures to worship.
There is also a little shop and a cafè in the lounge, but that is worth another tip!!!
The Svalbard Museum was located in an old building on the edge of Longyearbyen until the end of 2005. It was then moved to the Svalbard Science Center.
We visited the museum and its exhibitions on history, culture and wildlife in the old setting and I just loved the way it was set up! It did not look too professional, but rather like a fondly assembled collection of exhibits. Only drawback was that most of the explanations were merely in Norwegian, some of them in French and some in English, so at times it was hard to find out what we were looking at exactly....
I just hope that the new museum conveys the same pride and affection for Svalbard!
Entrance fee (2006): 50 NOK
- Museum Visits
The tourist information is in the center of Longyearbyen and has excellent information on the town, but most of all on interesting excursions, walks and visits. The staff is very helpful in trying to assist you in finding your personal thing to do!
The tourist information is located in The Gateway to Svalbard (Svalbardporten).
Their opening hours are: Monday - Sunday 10 am - 5 pm
Boat trip to Barentsburg
I joined a boat trip to the Esmark galcier and Barentsburg. First we cross Isfjorden and sail up towards the calving glacier face of the Esmark glacier. Here we were served a barbaque lunch. In Barentsburg we had a guided tour with a Russian english speaking guide and we had some time on our own. On the way back to Longyearbyen we passed old setlements in Colesbukta and Grumant, and also in front of the teeming bird cliffs.
We saw a lot of different birds, seals and white whales. Remember to dress in warm, windproof clothing, and bring hat, gloves/mittens and scarf. Also remember to bring your camera and binoculars!
We were picked up at the hotel at 08:45 am. and the trip lasted for appr 9-10 hours.
Adults: NOK 1.190,-.
Children (4-15 years): NOK 690,-.
Senior (over 67 years): NOK 890,-
- Whale Watching
Boat trip to the Tempelfjord and glaciers
I joined a evening tour with MS Langøysund on Sassenfjorden with a panoramic view of Tempelfjellet and the Tuna- and Von Post glaciers at the innermost reaches of the Tempelfjord. In May the fjords become ice free and between June and September and it is possible to go by boat and experience, majestic mountain peaks and bird cliffs with nesting birds.
The trip started at 18:30 and lasted for 7 hours. We were served a hot meal during the evening and the kiosk sold drinks and snacks. It was cold so dress in warm, windproof clothing, and remember to bring hat, gloves/mittens and scarf.
Also remember to bring your camera and binoculars!
Adults: NOK 990,-.
Children (4-15 years): NOK 650,-.
Senior (over 67 years): NOK 790,-.
hiring a snowmobile
Svalbard Wildlife Services will help you to get to Barentsburg.
They organize excursions in the archipelago. I booked them a one day excursion in snowmobile (riding at over 100 kilometres per hour!) to the Russian town of Barentsburg to buy vodka. Their prices are expensive (everything is expensive in Svalbard except the alcohol!) but they made me discount.
4 days or one week cruise up to 80 degrees north and around spitsbergen.
a fantastic cruise where u are seeing some fantastic nature, you will see whales , seel, polarbears and other arctic animals.
its a bit expensive ,but its just fantastic...
at spitsbergen you have a russhian "town" aswell as norwegian, there are about 800 people living there working in the cole mine. they have a small fabric there where the womens work making clothes for the people that lives there.The thing thats a bit spesial about barentsburgs is that they live like we did 50 years ago, they don't have to much money , they are only there for 2 years a time, there are trips from longyearbyen to barentsbug every day, by snow mobil in the winter and cruises by summer. Its a nice thing to see.
Visit the russians
One day i attended a snowmobiletrip to Barentsburg, a russian mining community. The trip go through silent arctic wilderness, before you at last enter Barentsburg. Groups are provided a guide here who will show you the place, along the way she will point out the only cattlefarm in the arctic. The russians have a stock of cattle providing fresh milk and meat all year round. A meal in the local cafeý is also a part of the visit. The people here are friendly to visitors. Sadly you canýt visit the operating mines here, but according to the guy from mine three, the mines in Barentsburg are operated pretty mutch the same way, making a visit to ýnumber threeý even more interesting. In the norwegian mines, modern times has moved in. Around easter there are buildt several elaborate snowfigures aroundthe town, a funny tradition brouht here from Russia.
- Arts and Culture
Sassen bay and Tempelfjorden
If the weather are good enough, i definately will recommend a snowmobiletrip to Sassen bay, and Tempelfjorden. Or, if you have time enough with dogtransport. It is more peacefull, it gives you more time to bring your sole with you, and to soak up the sole of the land. In any case you travel through virgin wilderness before reaching Sassen. Here you have the opportunity to visit an old trapperstation. For 39 years this was the place of trapper Hilmar Nýis, called the king of Sassen Bay. He even got his wife up here, and his sons also lived and worked here for years. Therefore he ended up with the biggest trapperhouse on Svalbard, probably in the hole arctic. At this time of year you are pretty sure to se the fiordice off land littered with sunbasking seals. If you are very lucky you will even see the polarbear. We did. On the other side of the fiord there was one female togeter with two cobs. They were feeding on a seal. We was only allowed to watch from long distance. A strictly followed rule here is that when you have seen a polarbear, you donýt approach any more. It is for the safety of both bear and man alike. On the other hand, on many boat trips in the past, polarbears have almost entered the ship. The difference is that in those cases the bears are not chased. In the bottom of Tempelfjorden, there is a glacier. Go there. The green and blue colours of the ice are magnificent.
visit the mine
If you are interested in mininghistory you can join a tour to Gruve tre- mine number three. It is now closed down, but the guide, at least my guide, worked here. He know everything about the mining, and will tell you lot of stories from the miners world. Ranging from the salary system to stories about how they made more or less brutal jokes. It is fun to listen. Sadly it is the no photo rule in there. They are afraid of electrical sparks who , in a worst case cenario, could ignate a coaldust explotion. Postcards are your option. The former miner told us that in a coaldustexplotion in another mine a long time ago (i think it was number one), the tunel had acted as a big canon. All sorts of stuff were spread out in the valley below. Including a minehorse with its wagon. It was barely sossageworthy after the brutal landing. In the mine you will also see the counturs of a pre4historic river curving in the wall. Just like the plants who became coal it was burried.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
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