Adventures in the Land of the Midnight Sun – The Final Chapter

August 14, 2010

4 July 2010 The Best of Svalbard

“Strange. There is always a sadness on departure. It is as if one cannot after all bear to leave this bleak waste of ice, glaciers, cold and toil.”

– Fridtjof Nansen, 1912

What a trip! The last three days really picked up the pace; I didn’t have any time to write, so I’m cramming it in while waiting to board the plane at Longyearbyen airport.

14 polar bears, I believe, was our last count. Not to mention countless exciting wildlife encounters and just being immersed in the immense beauty (each day a little different from the next) of the Arctic Svalbard.

I’m hard-pressed to find just five images that really encapsulate the experience for me, but I hope these come close:

Cruising the Ice

Jagged peaks

Curious Walrus

Whale Karma


And in true spirit of the expedition, just as we thought the trip was winding down after all the formal farewells on the last night, came one of the most magical experiences of a lifetime. It was past 11pm when, as we stood on the forward-looking decks under the midnight sun, white-beaked dolphins danced for us by the ship’s bow and a magnificent blue whale – the largest living mammal on the face of the earth and exceedingly rare – surfaced just a few feet from us.

An apt tribute to an absolutely amazing vacation.

Here’s the final list of wildlife sightings:

  • Polar bears
  • Blue whale
  • Fin whale
  • Sei whale
  • Minke whale
  • Beluga whale
  • White-beaked dolphin
  • Walrus
  • Reindeer
  • Ringed seal
  • Bearded seal
  • Puffins, and a bunch of other sea birds


All praise for the staff and crew of the National Geographic Explorer on Lindblad Expedition’s “Land of the Ice Bears” voyage from 27 June to 4 July 2010, especially our excellent expedition leader Tim Soper and the awesome team of Naturalists and Photographers. I’m also grateful to Chris Harter from AdventureSmith Explorations who helped us put it together – Chris really went out of his way for these somewhat troublesome and suaku travellers from the tropics. (To those who are interested, I would be happy to put you in touch with him).

Next dream vacation the boyfriend and I are working towards : a 24-day voyage to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands on the Explorer by 2020.

For now, it’s goodbye to the polar wilderness that has so drawn us in over this short visit. Indeed, there is a strange sadness about it. And an even stranger longing to return.

Edit >> All photos are up on my Flickr site : Arctic Svalbard 2010


Pig is at Longyearbyen airport, Svalbard. 78 degrees, 13 mins north, apparently.


One comment

  1. OMG this is so cool!!! i really wanna see polar bears!

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