Svalbard Warnings and Dangers
Very changeable weather on Svalbard
Very changeable weather on Svalbard
Dead and stuffed bear in the local...
Bear warning sign
Scientist in Ny Alesund Tux on road to...
Reviews from VirtualTourist Members
People travelling on their own outside of the settlements and the area around Nordenskiölds Land – Dickson Land, must notify the Governor (Sysselman) of Svalbard of their plans. For safety reasons, we recommend that no matter where or how long you intend to be away, you tell someone about it. The Governor can compel visitors to purchase insurance or provide a bank guarantee to cover expenses in the event there is a need for a rescue operation.
Gun rental for polar bear protection
There are several outfitters that are ready to rent you a gun for polar bear protection. I did this in May 2008 at the outfitter Ingeniør G. Paulsen company down by the sea side in Longyearbyen. Ideally you should have a gun licence or some other proof that you can use a gun, but they will take the time to show you how to do it if you cannot show any proof. However, if you are not mentally ready to fire a gun against a bear, do not rent a gun and do not venture into polar bear territory - a lame gun is false security. You can hire a local person with a gun to guide you.The guns are mostly WW2 Mauser brand 30.06/7.62 mm high powered rifles in fairly bad condition - but they will work. Some shops and outfitters will rent you modern rifles of the same caliber that are somewhat less heavy and clumsy - at a higher fee. Anything less powerful is fairly useless against a polar bear. When...
Polar Bears in Svalbard
Polar bears are completely protected on Svalbard. It is prohibited to pursue or attempt to make contact with a polar bear, as this may disturb it and jeopardise the safety of humans or polar bears. Maintain safe distance from any bears you may come across as they can attack suddenly without warning. Use caution and avoid all contact. Always set out tripwire warning flares around campsites. Polar bears will quickly overheat if they are being chased, so never follow a polar bear on a snowmobile or boat. Never feed a polar bear. At campsites, all food, garbage and toilet waste must be kept at least 100 m from your sleeping tents and in a way so that it can be seen from the tent opening. Polar bears are essentially everywhere on Svalbard – also during the summer so a weapon should be with anyone outside of the settlements. Large-bore rifles are absolutely the best defence against polar...
Rabies on Svalbard
Ignorant Norwegians are not used to animals being carriers of rabies. The mainland is free from rabies, thus our innocense when it comes to these cuddly and seemingly tame polar foxes. They are naturally unafraid of people, so not necessarily rabies-infected... For visitors more exposed to this it's probably not worth saying this, but due to the presence of rabies on Svalbard, stay well clear of polar foxes and any stray dogs you do not know the history of. Bringing pet dogs/cats in/out of Svalbard if for the same reason quite problematic. Leave your pet at home.The rabies on Svalbard seems to be originating from the east - Siberian fox and wolf populations.No particular vaccinations are required prior to arriving Svalbard, but if bitten, do go to Longyearbyen Hospital - they have capacity and antidotes to handle rabies.
Beware of Polar Bears!
At first I could not believe it, but it definitely is true:Polar Bears are an acute danger in Svalbard - and even in settlements like Longyearbyen you are not safe! There is a warning out that you should always carry a rifle when leaving the settlement - and that is no joke at all! All over you can hear about encounters with polar bears - and many times they are fatal! To the people - not to the bears!
Polar bears on Svalbard
Polar bears are at the apex of the Arctic food chain. That means in essence people are snacks, albeit, very boney for the most part.Bears will have very little natural fear for people, most are curious but decide you do not look very tasty, only 1% are aggressive and right-out dangerous."Rules of Engagement" are available in brochures on arrival at Longyearbyen Airport.You shouldn't leave the settlement without a gun or without the company of somebody with a gun. You can rent a rifle in Longyearbyen, costs about NOK 100,- per day, and you pay for bullets spent. If you have no shooting experience, you may be offered to take a quick course at cost..
No photos in mines
On mine visits visitors would like to take photos...But you will not be permitted to. The reason is the explosion danger. Coal mines have a fair amount of methane gas seeping out and it is highly volatile. A spark, a flash from you camera could in principle set it off, and that wouldn't be a bang you'd like to hear...Head the advice...
Polar bears and weather
Listen to what everyone says about the Polar bears. There might not have been that many killings but they do happen and there's just a moments difference between beeing injured and beeing killed. Off cause another moment and you are safe. Think and do not be a fool! If you are a photografer please remember - if the guide tells you to run, just run! No pic is worth dying for. Another thing to consider and could be dangerous in a different way is the ever changing weather. Do plan for all kinds of weather even if it looks sunny and warm. It can change to a storm in just seconds. In Svalbard it gets cold fast and you'll get colder even faster.
The weather on Svalbard - webcams
The weather at Svalbard is extremely harsh and erratic, and you should listen to local advice and warnings before venturing out too far from habitation. Long-term weather forecasts are of limited value here in the turbulent Barents Sea. In preparation for your Svalbard trip you can in any case check out the weather as it is today: I have found 3 active web cams, one at the harbour of Longyearbyen, one from the University Center up in town, and the last one gives a view of Ny Ålesund up on the west coast.1) www.aftenposten.no//webcam/?kart=detalj&id=1188&tittel=Longyearbyen2) www.aftenposten.no//webcam/?kart=detalj&id=873) www.aftenposten.no//webcam/?kart=detalj&id=98&tittel=Ny%20ÅlesundThen you know how to dress before boarding the plane....
Don't expect a nice, cozy, whitewashed Greek Island style community here.Architecture in Longyearbyen is a fairly unknown concept - this is a company town first and foremost. Quick and dirty is a covering term for many of the buildings here (see illustration - this is the ISS HQ in town). On top of this industrial site habitation, all mining detritus and other ruins and trash from before 1946 are practically by law protected as a cultural heritage. So that bent and rusty I-bar just seemingly dropped from the sky might be a leftover from the WW2 Scharnhorst battleship bombardment of Longyearbyen.Just come to terms with it - industrial trash is cultural heritage here.But in my opinion that is absolutely no excuse for some of the new buildings that have shot up - like the one on my photo.
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