Adventure Travel Consultant and Polar Specialist Hannah embarked on an Arctic journey through the Norwegian Fjords and on to Svalbard and Longyearbyen and here she tells us her highlights.
"In late May I headed to Bergen to join our Norwegian Fjords and Spitsbergen – Expedition trip. If you have the time I’d highly recommended extending your time in Bergen, although it lived up to Norway’s pricey reputation it was a beautiful city with lots to see. My first stop was the Funicular for spectacular views over the city and from here you can hike back down or choose to take the funicular back down.
In Bergen, I then joined the Expedition, the boat that would be my home for the next 15 days. Although slightly apprehensive at first, I quickly made friends and settled into ship life. The boat has all the facilities you could need such as a gym and sauna and the all-important lounge where we’d convene each night to hear the plans for the next day. It must also be noted that the food is excellent! With 4 courses each night and snacks throughout the day you’ll never go hungry. Most importantly however, the ship is small enough to get you up close and personal to the incredible landscapes that you’ll be travelling through.
Sailing on we soon reached the Fjords. The scenery was breath-taking and more beautiful than I could possibly have imaged prior to arrival. There are waterfalls at every turn and the unexpected great weather (up to 24 degrees most days) meant that we had non-stop spectacular views and beautiful reflections on the fjords. One of my highlights was visiting Svartisen Glacier. It was reminiscent of Canada with clear blue waters and towering mountains, only with less tourists and more complimentary waffles! With a choice of either a challenging glacier hike or a more leisurely stroll around the lake it was a great excursion for all abilities.
As we went further North we started spotting wildlife, particularly whales. We first spotted Sperm Whales in the distance but this was just a taster before the main event. One meal time we got a call that a large pod of Long-Finned Pilot Whales had been spotted, so abandoning lunch we went out on deck to investigate. Just in front of the boat were at least 30 whales including calves and they were playing and spy hopping. A sight that I won’t forget in a hurry.
Continuing on to Svalbard we were woken by the sound of our boat going through the ice, waking up at 3am and looking out to broad daylight and an expanse of ice was a unique experience. We then got up close to the ice on zodiac cruises past huge glaciers and sheets of ice scattered with seals and their cubs.
Finally we disembarked in Longyearbyen, where reindeer roam the streets and the students roam around with guns slung over their shoulders in case of polar bear encounters. It’s a unique town and gives a good insight into what it’s like to live in such extreme conditions.
I’d highly recommend this trip for anyone that wants to see Norway’s spectacular landscapes with just a taster of Spitsbergen. It’s definitely whet my appetite to return to the Arctic on the continuing quest to spot a polar bear!"