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Monthly Archives: August 2023 − News & Stories

Spitsbergen’s nor­thwest cor­ner: from Mag­da­le­nefjord to Hol­miabuk­ta

Spitsbergen’s nor­thwest cor­ner: steep, rug­ged, icy, rocky … beau­tiful. From Mag­da­le­nefjord, whe­re we had ancho­red during the night, to Dan­s­køya, whe­re we went for a hike, to the magni­fi­cent Fuglefjord with all its ice and final­ly to Hol­miabuk­ta.

We saw no less than seven polar bears during this day, inclu­ding seve­ral swim­ming ones.

Pho­to gal­lery – Spitsbergen’s nor­thwest cor­ner: from Mag­da­le­nefjord to Hol­miabuk­ta

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

In For­lands­und: Sar­stan­gen & Fug­le­hu­ken

A night of sai­ling took us to the nor­t­hern part of For­lands­und, whe­re we were hoping to find wal­ru­ses. We were not dis­ap­poin­ted.

Later, we were hoping for a good walk at Fug­le­hu­ken, at the nor­t­hern tip of Prins Karls For­land. A beau­tiful area. But we were not alo­ne: a polar bear was try­ing to sneak up to seve­ral groups of har­bour seals that were res­t­ing on rocks in shal­low water …

Pho­to gal­lery – For­lands­und: Sar­stan­gen & Fug­le­hu­ken

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Taking off with SV Mean­der: first day in Ekm­anfjord

The fan­ta­stic trip with SY Arc­ti­ca II came to an end two days ago, and now we are taking off again, this time with SV Mean­der for a cer­tain­ly not less fan­ta­stic trip 😊

To begin with, the sun is taking a day off. Clouds and fog also need their chan­ce. And as nobo­dy needs 2 meter waves, espe­ci­al­ly during the first night, we deci­de to spend the first day in Ekm­anfjord. The litt­le island of Flin­thol­men is fasci­na­ting with its strong land­scape con­trast bet­ween the red morai­ne on one side and green tun­dra on the other side. Very simi­lar to Cora­hol­men, which is not far at all.

Later we went for a hike on Blo­mes­let­ta, a beau­tiful tun­dra low­land with wide views from long lying hills. Fog banks add a lot of atmo­sphe­re to the beau­tiful moun­ta­ins in Ekm­anfjord such as Kapi­tol and Kolos­se­um.

In the late evening, we lea­ve Isfjord and sail nor­thwards.

Pho­to gal­lery – Isfjord: Ekm­anfjord

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Isfjord: Erd­mann­flya, Ymer­buk­ta and back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The final day of this voya­ge in Spitsbergen’s stun­ning natu­re. After a short pas­sa­ge across Isfjord we rea­ched Erd­mann­flya and star­ted a good hike across this beau­tiful tun­dra area. That took a good cou­ple of hours, with love­ly rests to enjoy the sce­n­ery and the silence. What a beau­tiful coun­try!

For a final delight, Hein­rich went all out to give us some gre­at views of Esmark­breen, and then it was time to set cour­se for Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Some wha­les waved us good­bye as we went east in Isfjord.

Thus, a long, ama­zing trip came to an end. We have been to so many incre­di­bly beau­tiful and ama­zing places, we did good hikes, oh, and all the wild­life … unfor­gettable! A big thanks to ever­y­bo­dy who made a con­tri­bu­ti­on to this, to make it all work, to keep the spi­rits up, all the good food 😋 … first of all, of cour­se, skip­per Hein­rich Eggen­fell­ner, owner of the excel­lent Arc­ti­ca II! I am alre­a­dy loo­king for­ward to next year! ⛵️😊

Pho­to gal­lery – Isfjord: Erd­mann­flya, Ymer­buk­ta and back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

From Van Keu­len­fjord to Fest­nin­gen

We spent the mor­ning in Van Keu­len­fjord with a litt­le, very love­ly hike in the beau­tiful area of Fleur-de-Lys­ham­na and Kapp Tos­ca­na. Won­derful sce­n­ery. Histo­ry not quite as won­derful, with remains of indus­tri­al-sca­le Belu­ga (white wha­le) slaugh­ter. But that is the his­to­ri­cal rea­li­ty. Igno­ring it does not make any­thing bet­ter.

In the after­noon, we made a short landing near Kapp Mar­tin, but it was a mat­ter of minu­tes until we found our­sel­ves back on board becau­se of a polar bear that came wal­king along. They have got the right of way, as simp­le as that.

But in exch­an­ge, we arri­ved at Fest­nin­gen in Isfjord ear­ly enough for a litt­le evening walk to round ano­ther gre­at day off.

Pho­to gal­lery – From Van Keu­len­fjord to Fest­nin­gen

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Horn­sund & Dunøya­ne

We star­ted the day whe­re we had finis­hed yes­ter­day: in Horn­sund. Just on the other (south) side, in Gås­ham­na, with a love­ly hike. A lot of stuff to see: a lot of sce­n­ery, histo­ry and a curious arc­tic fox ❄️🦊🙂

Ano­ther high­light of the trip was then the landing on Dunøya­ne in the after­noon. A silent, beau­tiful perl of natu­re, not seen by too many peo­p­le. Dunøya­ne are a bird sanc­tua­ry which means they beco­me legal­ly acces­si­ble again from 16 August. Good thing.

Pho­to gal­lery – Gås­ham­na in Horn­sund & Dunøya­ne

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Sør­kapp & Horn­sund

Sør­kapp (Spitsbergen’s south cape) has its bad repu­ta­ti­on for good reasons. The wea­ther is often bad and the sea rough, and the waters are shal­low. Most­ly it is a tough stretch.

But on one of the­se rather few gol­den days … it can be an ama­zing area! Be it on the main­land coast or on the off­shore islands such as Tokros­søya.

After an ama­zing day at the­se places we went into Horn­sund.

Pho­to gal­lery – Sør­kapp: Keil­hauf­jel­let & Tokros­søya and Horn­sund

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

In Storfjord: Kval­vå­gen & Haketan­gen

Now it was time to get south and towards the south cape. But it was a good day in Storfjord, with two landings. One at Spo­rod­den in Kval­vå­gen. Ama­zing geo­lo­gy, inclu­ding dino­saur foot­prints. And a very good hike.

Fur­ther south at Haketan­gen, we found some­thing that you would hard­ly expect in a remo­te, see­mingly pris­ti­ne place like this: a litt­le run­way! Of cour­se not in use any­mo­re, but still cle­ar­ly visi­ble in the land­scape. The was one of the places whe­re they dril­led for oil and gas back then. The first dril­ling was done in 1976 and than again in 1987. The hole went as far down as 2,337 met­res. After some more tests in 1988, the place was cle­ared up (at least). They found some gas, but not enough to start pro­duc­tion.

How was it pos­si­ble that they actual­ly did the­se explo­ra­ti­on works? The lar­ge natio­nal parks exist sin­ce 1973. That includes South Spits­ber­gen Natio­nal Park, whe­re Haketan­gen is situa­ted. Today we are tal­king about pos­si­ble bans against tou­rist landings in the­se are­as, and back then they could drill, look for oil and gas and build and use a run­way – under essen­ti­al­ly the same regu­la­ti­ons. How was that pos­si­ble? One may only won­der.

Pho­to gal­lery – In Storfjord: Kval­vå­gen & Haketan­gen

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

In Hin­lo­pen Strait (II)

One more day in Hin­lo­pen Strait – and what a day it was! Wat­ching polar bears while they were having break­fast, a gre­at hike on Wil­hel­møya and to round the day off (as if any­thing was miss­ing …) wat­ching hump­back wha­les having din­ner.

Pho­to gal­lery – Hin­lo­pen Strait (II): Polar bears, Wil­hel­møya & hump­back wha­les

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

In Hin­lo­pen Strait (I)

Now, as we had ente­red Hin­lo­pen Strait from the south, we wan­ted to get fur­ther into this ama­zing area, hoping for some good hikes, sce­n­ery and wild­life. We were not to be dis­ap­poin­ted. From a good hike on Von Otterøya, with gre­at pan­o­r­amic views over lar­ge parts of Hin­lo­pen, to one of many smal­ler islands on the area to Alkef­jel­let. The lat­ter is always some­thing spe­cial, but that night, it was just unre­al. Pure magic.

Pho­to gal­lery – Hin­lo­pen Strait: Von Otterøya, Smit­tøya, Alkef­jel­let

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Around Nord­aus­t­land: fol­lo­wing Austfonna’s edge

Now that we were alre­a­dy as far east as Storøya, we thought we might as well sail all around Nord­aus­t­land. And so we did. The day was a bit grey, but the light was actual­ly gre­at to high­light the ama­zing colour of the ice and the water, which was, in parts, hea­vi­ly colou­red by sedi­ment. A part of the ice cap of Aus­t­fon­na, in the area of Domen, has cle­ar­ly advan­ced by seve­ral kilo­me­t­res. The amounts of gla­cier ice in the water are ama­zing.

The pic­tures will tell the sto­ry. That’s the view we had for most of the day 🙂

Pho­to gal­lery – Nord­aus­t­land: Aus­t­fon­na from Domen to Brås­vell­breen

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

More “end of the world” islands: Raschøya & Storøya

We star­ted with a hike on Raschøya – in suns­hi­ne! Good thing. We may not get too much of both – hiking and sun – later today and tomor­row. The view over the sur­roun­dings, islands, bays and the huge ice cap Aus­t­fon­na, from Raschøya is incre­di­ble!

Inde­ed, we lost the sun (rather, it dis­ap­peared behind clouds and fog) as we rea­ched Storøya. If anyo­ne had not yet men­tal­ly arri­ved in the high Arc­tic, well, this was it: as bar­ren, cold, win­dy and fog­gy as anyo­ne could ima­gi­ne. An island not for humans, but for wal­ru­ses and polar bears.

We even mana­ged to make two landings on Storøya, one near the wal­ru­ses in the north and one at the hut of the Ymer-expe­di­ti­on in 1980.

Now we have many miles at sea ahead of us as we sail around Nord­aus­t­land.

Pho­to gal­lery – Raschøya, Storøya

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Svalbard’s remo­test islands

The world – this part of it, any­way – was ours today. Gre­at wea­ther, and some remo­te, wild arc­tic islands ahead of us!

Landings on such small islands are always exci­ting. Nord­re Repøya, Karl XII-Øya, Foynøya. Ama­zing places! Stran­ge that we didn’t see any polar bears (just parts of them). Whe­re are they? All up to the ice? Hard to belie­ve. Any­way, they were not here today. It is kind of stran­ge to spend seve­ral days in this area wit­hout see­ing a sin­gle bear. But we got all the­se gre­at landings, so for us, it was not a bad thing.

Later we had the grea­test arc­tic evening ever in in eas­tern­most Orvin Land. At anchor in the eas­tern­most bay befo­re the gre­at gla­cier front of Leigh­breen starts, which is part of the huge ice cap Aus­t­fon­na. What a light, what a view, what an evening! Unfor­gettable!

Pho­to gal­lery – Nord­re Repøya, Karl XII-Øya, Orvin Land

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

From Rijpfjord to Zorgd­ra­gerfjord and Duvefjord

Con­side­ring the wea­ther fore­cast, our expec­ta­ti­ons for this day were some­what limi­t­ed, but actual­ly, it tur­ned out gre­at! Start­ing with a gre­at hike from Rijpfjord to Zorgd­ra­gerfjord across the bar­ren inte­riour of the coun­try, which is hard­ly ever visi­ted. Also Zorgd­ra­gerfjord does enjoy its exis­tence in soli­tu­de, and it is gre­at to see places like that.

Later, we went for ano­ther hike in the nor­thwes­tern part of Duvefjord. We even got some suns­hi­ne the­re, so we went out yet one more time in the evening, to enjoy the gre­at light.

Pho­to gal­lery – from Rijpfjord to Zorgd­ra­gerfjord and Duvefjord

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Nor­dens­ki­öld­buk­ta and Rijpfjord

A day in some of the remo­test and most rare­ly visi­ted cor­ners of Sval­bard. That is cer­tain­ly true for the wes­tern part of Nor­dens­ki­öld­buk­ta on Nord­aus­t­land: poor­ly char­ted waters with a lot of shal­lows, whe­re most Cap­ta­ins will refu­se to take their ship. But Hein­rich dri­ves his Arc­ti­ca II almost like a Zodiac.

That way we got the rare oppor­tu­ni­ty for a gla­cier hike on Sabi­ne­breen.

A gla­cier from a more clas­sic per­spec­ti­ve was what we got later at Rijp­b­reen.

We finis­hed the day off with a visit to the Hau­de­gen war wea­ther sta­ti­on. A pret­ty grim part of Svalbard’s histo­ry, but inte­res­t­ing.

Pho­to gal­lery – Nor­dens­ki­öld­buk­ta & Rijpfjord: Sabi­ne­breen, Rijp­b­reen and Hau­de­gen-sta­ti­on

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.


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