The remote and mysterious Svalbard archipelago is a dream destination for the adventurous traveler. With over 60% of its surface covered in glaciers, Svalbard is the true image of an Arctic wonderland. The only inhabited island of the archipelago is Spitsbergen; home to roughly 2,500 people. The iconic Svalbard landscape spends much of the year blanketed in snow; mixing pristine, snowy scenery with diverse and breathtaking geological formations. There is a spectacular array of sights to enjoy in Svalbard; from awe-inspiring glaciers to magnificent wildlife including the 3,000 polar bears the archipelago is home to, earning it the name the Kingdom of the Polar Bear.
Aside from the standard glaciers to be found in Svalbard, it is one of the few places in the world where Surge Glaciers can be witnessed. Surge Glaciers move far faster than their standard counterparts, sometimes pushing forward several metres in a single day. There is an interval between surge cycles of anywhere between 30 and 500 years depending on the glacier, making this experience literally a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Wildlife on Svalbard
As well as the astonishing ice and rock formations, Svalbard is home to a variety of Arctic wildlife. The only land mammals that originate in Svalbard are the polar bear, the Arctic fox and the Svalbard reindeer. This reindeer is a distinct subspecies indigenous to Svalbard and well worth looking for. The seas around the archipelago are home to a number of seal species, including the ringed and bearded seal, as well as several types of whale.
An Unforgettable Destination
Longyearbyen, the administrative centre of Svalbard, is the largest community in the archipelago and a fantastic place to stay for a secluded break in the untamed North. Longyearbyen’s home island, Spitsbergen also contains an incredible museum, telling the story of the intriguing past of Svalbard, as well as some of the most remote communities in the world such as Barentsburg. Visits here will ensure you leave for home with memories that will last forever. However, for more than memories, a guided visit to the Longyear glacier will give you the chance to hunt for fossils and take home with you the most amazing Svalbard souvenir imaginable!
Svalbard and the Northern Lights
As if the Arctic wildlife and iconic landscapes weren’t enough, Svalbard also offers the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, even in the daytime! At the Trapper’s Lodge in Longyearbyen, the staff will be happy to alert to you an appearance of the Aurora over Svalbard, so there’s no chance of missing this incredible sight.