Unique wildlife

SignFile:Ursus maritimus us fish.jpg
Svalbard has a rather big population of ice bears, but you do not get the right picture if you only focus on ice bears – there are so many other animals that you can see here. I already talked about the Svalbard reindeer I saw at Isfjord Radio. It is almost like “Garden Edens” since they are not afraid of humans.
The same is with the grouse (Rype) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lagopus_muta_-Iceland-8.jpg , that you can get so close that you almost can pick them up from the ground.
Another animal is the Arctic Fox. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_fox   It is a cute little fox that is totally white during the winter. I found this little chap at the reception. Arctic FoxSvalbard2 007

You find furs and skins everywhere. Svabard always attracted Trappers. They came to hunt and trap and then sold the skins. Normally they had a “Trappe’s station” with many smaller huts with only a fire place and a bed in the area. So they could ski around in the area and check the traps.
Trapper station
The Ice Bear is of course the King of the Island. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_bear When it was allowed to hunt the polar bear, it was so hard hunted that there was only a couple of bears left. Between 1965 and 1973 the ice bear was protected in Norway and since 1973 it is totally banned. Ice bears can only be shot in self-defense. This made the population is strong again. Ice bears are cute – especially when they are small, but they are very dangerous animals and in case you are attacked by an ice bear you will probably not survive, Therefore you must carry a rifle when you are outside Longyearbyen. When we went to the dog yard our guide had her rifle between us in the front of the car.
RifleOur guide

It is a bit unusual feeling. You also see notes at the shops where they ask the customers to leave the gun and rifle outside.
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Seal meat has always been important for the people at Svalbard and still they use the meat to feed the sledge dogs. Earlier the trapper always had seal meat outside the cabin. It attracted the ice bear and it was easy to shoot for the trapper. When the ice bear was protected, the trapper had to hang the seals so the ice bear could not get them and it should not be close to the trapper’s cabin. It could look like this when the trapper stored seal meat for the winter.
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You find all kind of seals on Svalbard and they are also hunted.This is the curious harbour seal.
Harbor seal

At the Restaurant Kroa the table cloth is from seal skin and if you turn them around it is written like this.
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Walrus is also an animal you can meet on Svalbard. The Walrus is a very social animal and they love to lay side by side and have “close contact” to the other Walruses’.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walrus

 

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Isfjord Radio

After a good nights sleep, I woke up and looked out of the window – the weather looked good. Everything on Svalbard depends on the weather and you have to be prepared for changes. But the staff here are very good and professional and used to this extra challange.
Breakfast roomBreakfast

The breakfast was very tasty and the room has a very nice atmosphere.

In the morning we visited the Basecamp dog yard. When there is no snow they put wheels on the sledges and go “Dog sledging on wheels”.

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It was a lot of fun. For each sledge we needed 6 dogs. Since we needed to have 4 sledges it means that a lot of dogs need to be prepared. I will not try to describe the sound when the lucky dogs were chosen – it was very loud and I had a feeling they all said: -Pick me, pick me!!!! 6 dogs had to be harnessed and it took a while to learn how to get the head on the right place in the harness and the legs as well. But the dogs were very patient.

We went sledging for about 1 hour and me and the dogs were very satisfied after the tour ended. It was a beautiful tour and I had a lot of time to enjoy the scenery. The colours are amazing.
Colors in september

In the afternoon we left for “Isfjord Radio”, the northernmost Boutique hotel in the world. Isfjord Radio is situated at the Isfjord at Kap Linné. In the summer you go the 90 km by boat (takes between 2-4 hours depending on the weather conditions) and in winter you go by snowmobile or dog sledge. Isfjord Radio was a radio station until 2007 when Svalbard got fiber connection and since 2008 it is a hotel.
Dress om safety dress Isfjord 022

We went about 2,5 hours and since I sat in the front of the RIB boat, now and then I had a “shower” of salty water. No problem – we had survival suites on and all looked (and felt) like Michelin men. Too “fat” to move but therefore warm and safe. We were lucky and saw mink whale quite close on our way to Isfjord.
Me

Upon arrival we became a warm drink at the harbor and walked the path up to the hotel. The impression of coming in to this beautiful and stylish hotel after the boat trip was overwhelming.
Isfjord Radio Isfjord Radio
Before dinner we had a short walk together with Maren that runs the hotel – you are not allowed to go for a walk alone outside since they have polarbears in the area. This summer they spotted polarbears 3 times, one time of them was a mum with 2 cubs’.
We eat a delicious 3 course dinner with Whale as a starter and had a nice time with other guests before I went to bed. Have a look at the webcam: http://www.snsk.no/isfjord-radio.157272.en.html

Svalbard reindeer

In the morning we had a very nice breakfast and two wild reindeer’s decided to show up just outside the breakfast window. The Svalbard reindeer are different from the other reindeers. They are smalle, shorter legs and more “compact” in a way. They eat a lot during the summer and in the winter there is not so much food so they have to live from the fat they gained during the summer and lose a lot of weight http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_reindeer. You could see that. These reindeer’s were really fat – and very cute. They are not very scared for humans .They should because the reindeer hunt just started.

Svalbard – the wild North

Svalbard 001The first snow

Even if Svalbard is a remote place, situated between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole, it is really easy to go there. From Oslo you fly either direct or via Tromsö to the Longyearbyen Airport. The flight takes between 3-4 hours. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard

When you arrive, you immediately feel that this area is totally different to other places in Norway or Scandinavia. Surprisingly you hear all kind of languages when you walk on the shopping street and it is not tourists. It is people that come from all over the world to work and live here. The University is well known and has a good reputation. The city is “young”. Even if I feel that I am at the end of the world, I hear loud dance music from the bar next door. It is Friday evening and the night just started.

Since my day started early, I will go to bed now. I really enjoy my cozy room at Basecamp, Trapper’s Hotel.
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I am looking forward to tomorrow!