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Spitsbergen

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Set high in the Arctic Ocean, the remote Svalbard archipelago covers an area roughly the size of Ireland and is dominated by the island of Spitsbergen. Not as cold or as inaccessible as people might think, Spitsbergen offers a truly Arctic experience, on the edge of the inhabitable world.

The Svalbard archipelago extends between 74 and 81° north, about halfway between Tromso in Norway and the North Pole. It is the northernmost place in Europe and is the farthest north you can travel by scheduled flight. The island is rich in minerals, particularly coal, and visitors can travel to settlements rich in mining history and still involved today. The fishing and whaling industry of the past have also left their mark and remnants make for interesting photographic subjects in many locations.

Together with the other islands that comprise Svalbard’s archipelago, Spitsbergen has the greatest variation of natural features found at such high latitudes. Boasting a mixture of rugged mountains, sweeping glaciers, vast icecaps, endless open tundra and beautiful fjord indented coastlines Spitsbergen is, quite simply, spectacular.

With no trees, the dramatic landscape can sometimes be stark, though a wide variety of Arctic wildflowers, lichen and moss offer patches of colour among the breathtaking scenery. Offshore, drift ice and shimmering icebergs float in impossibly dark cobalt waters.

There are no roads outside of the main settlements which help to maintain the 'unspoilt' quality. It isn’t difficult to discover that the lure of the landscapes is irresistible.

Wildlife and Nature

There are only three species of large mammal on Spitsbergen – polar bear, reindeer and Arctic fox. The chance of a sighting of any of these species is good but can never be guaranteed. However, marine species are more plentiful and include walrus, ring and bearded seal, white-nose dolphin, narwhal and orca. Belugas, fin and other whale species are also commonly sighted in the waters around Svalbard. In addition, over 100 types of birds, such as guillemots, kittiwakes and little auks thrive here, despite the high latitude.

Holidays

Our Spitsbergen holidays focus on small ship cruising along the dramatic coastline, which are complemented by active adventures and land-based itineraries allowing you to explore at your own pace.

Spitsbergen Holidays

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