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“Dark and cold..but well worth it”
Review of Svalbard

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Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
24 helpful votes
“Dark and cold..but well worth it”
Reviewed 29 October 2010

Svalbard is not exactly a popular destination and many are not even aware of it. But the fact is that it has a lot to offer. I visited Svalbard in January, when there is a 24 hour darkness, but even that didn't prevent me from enjoying it. I arrived by air. The air fare is quite expensive since there is only carrier which provides the commercial flights. On arrival, there is a bus waiting that takes the passengers into the town of Longyearbyen. This distance can also be walked, takes about 1 hour, but it is not adviced since you may encounter polar bears. I did do it however. As for the accommodation, there are several hotels and lodges, but some are open in summer season only. The room rates are very much the same in every hotel. Again, it might seem quite expensive, it is much higher than the european standard. The hotels usualy provide breakfast. The town has a restaurant and a bar, and a small supermarket where you can find the basic things. Couple of other stores sell clothing. There is also a local school and gym and a tourist centre. Several tours can be arranged, depending on the season. In winter there are dog-sledge and snowmobile tours, and also northern lights observing outside the town. In summer, there are boat trips to the icecap.Svalbard is a tax-free zone, people do stock up on the cigarettes and alcohol there, but you are adviced to stick to the limits, otherwise the border control at mainland will confiscate it. They are very strict about this and always check Svalbard passengers. As for the weather, well, you must expect it to be cold, but it is not that bad. In winter it can get way below -20, but I hear it can get as warm as +20 in summer. If you visit in winter it is worth because of the possibility of seeing the green northern lights throughout all day. Even though it is dark, it is not actually completely dark due to the moon light reflecting from the snow. Walking outside out of town is at your own risk, the bears are present so caution is adviced and warning signs are put in place. Overall, it is a nice, but expensive place to visit. I would go back though.

4 Thank lukino6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 6 Contributor
101 reviews
101 helpful votes
“Spitsbergen Explorer on the Akademik Shokalskiy with Exodus”
Reviewed 12 August 2009

July 22nd - 1st August 2009
As we left port under a fabulous blue sky our intimate group were all on the flying bridge - the light was FANTASTIC!, was this an omen for the next 10days? as we set off in search of the mighty great white bear.

There he was on the shore, then on ice, we were in Zodiacs and less than 30m away, so so POWERFUL! Dimitri quoted "that's the closest I've ever been to a Polar Bear" - and it's only Day 1.

We continued East, through mist into the ice - EERIE!!

We saw bears by the dozen (29 in total), Walrus by the tonne, more bird species than you could imagine plus puffins, seals and reindeer.

But Svalbard is not just about wildlife. On shore we experienced energetic and contemplative walks, we saw an array of beautiful wild flowers that we couldn't believe would grow in an Arctic wilderness. We visited historic sites, had a barbecue on the bow, took a polar plunge and basked in the midnight sun. We toasted passing 80deg North.

We ventured further North than the Shokalskiy had ever been before, deep into fast ice at 80deg31min North.

On our final evening we gathered to gloat over a collage of images, taken by Paul but representative of the many thousand that were taken by each of us and as Requiem faded I'm sure I was not alone in shedding a tear.

It was suggested that we delete a high proportion of our digital memory as not to bore our friends back home, but I suspect like us no-one could have the heart to relinquish any images containing polar bears.

Although we were all moved by the obvious love of the place shown by the expedtion team and the utter professionalism of the Russian crew, it would be wrong to single out any individual member of the team, crew or fellow passengers all of whom contributed to a TRULY AWESOME EXPERIENCE NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN!!!!

Thanks Exodus

4 Thank KeithM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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