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Map: Danskøya, northwestern Spitsbergen

Gene­ral: Dans­køya (“Danish Island”) is a rather small island and the nor­thwes­tern cor­ner of Spits­ber­gen. It is famous for the north pole expe­di­ti­ons laun­ched by the Swe­de Salo­mon August Andrée and the Ame­ri­can Wal­ter Well­man from Virgo­ham­na on Dans­køya.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Spe­cial per­mis­si­on is requi­red to land at Virgo­ham­na, and strict regu­la­ti­ons are to be fol­lo­wed to pro­tect the his­to­ri­cal heri­ta­ge.

Virgohamna, Danskøya: Andrée's baloon Ørnen

Andrée’s baloon Örnen in Virgo­ham­na, Dans­køya, rea­dy for take off on 11th July 1897.

Geo­lo­gy: All meta­mor­phic base­ment rocks (gneiss, phyl­li­te, mica schist), uplifted during north atlan­tic rif­ting in the upper Cret­ace­ous and lower Ter­tia­ry.

Danskøya: rocky terrain

Hiking over stones and boul­ders on Dans­køya.

Land­s­cape: Most of Dans­køya is made up of rocky hills up to 300 metres high (maxi­mum 351 m). The sur­face ist most­ly cove­r­ed with big stones and boul­ders (click here for a pan­ora­ma pho­to of that kind of land­s­cape on the east side of Dans­køya). The eas­tern part of the island, towards Smee­ren­burgfjord, is more flat. On the wes­tern side, the bay Kob­befjord (“seal bay”) is cut­ting into the island. It is gene­ral­ly pos­si­ble to make dif­fe­rent nice hikes on Dans­køya, but the rocky sur­face makes hiking qui­te deman­ding and incon­ve­ni­ent unless you are used to that kind of ter­rain. The­re are no gla­ciers, but some per­ma­nent snow­fiel­ds and some small lakes.

Lake, Danskøya

Litt­le lake on Dans­køya, east of Kob­befjord.

Flo­ra and fau­na: Vege­ta­ti­on is very scar­se, most­ly limi­ted to moss beds. Har­bour seals, a rare and unusu­al seal spe­ci­es in the high arc­tic, are often seen on stones near the shore, espe­cial­ly during low tide. Pur­p­le sand­pi­pers are abundant, loo­king for food in the tidal zone. Arc­tic fox and polar bear are roa­ming across Dans­køya more or less regu­lar­ly.

Harbour seals. Virgohamna, Danskøya

Har­bour seals in Virgo­ham­na, Dans­køya.

Histo­ry: The histo­ry is the main attrac­tion on Dans­køya, attrac­ting visi­tors in signi­fi­cant num­bers, almost exclu­si­ve­ly to a very limi­ted area in Virgo­ham­na. This is the site whe­re Salo­mon August Andrée from Swe­den tried to launch his bal­loon Örnen (The Eagle) in 1896 and 1897. He and his 2 fel­low com­ra­des disap­peared and were found dead only in 1930 on Kvi­tøya. In 1906, 1907 and 1909, he was fol­lo­wed in the same place by the Ame­ri­can jour­na­list Wal­ter Well­man, who tried to reach the north pole with his air­s­hip Ame­ri­ca, but fai­led on all attempts. Both left a lot of arti­facts in Virgo­ham­na, a lot of which can still be seen. See the race to the pole 2: Virgo­ham­na in the histo­ry sec­tion of this web­site.

Monument for Andrée in Virgohamna, Danskøya

Monu­ment for the Swe­dish bal­loon pioneer Andrée in Virgo­ham­na, Dans­køya.

Remains from Wellman's air ship expeditions in Virgohamna, Danskøya

Remains from Wellman’s air ship expe­di­ti­ons in Virgo­ham­na, Dans­køya.

17th cen­tu­ry wha­lers had their sta­ti­ons both in Virgo­ham­na and in Kob­befjord on the west side of Dans­køya. Tho­se in Virgo­ham­na, whe­re both gra­ves and blub­ber oven foun­da­ti­ons can still be seen, whe­re from Har­lin­gen in the Nether­lands. The wha­lers in Kob­befjord came from Den­mark. The­re are no visi­ble traces from that time in Kob­befjord.

Kobbefjord, Danskøya

Kob­befjord on the west side of Dans­køya. Danish wha­lers had a sta­ti­on here in the 17th cen­tu­ry. In spring 1922, Kob­befjord was the sta­ge of a tra­ge­dy when Harald Simon­sen and Tor­ge­ir Møkle­by died here.

In 1922, a tra­ge­dy took place in Kob­befjord, when the Nor­we­gi­ans Harald Simon­sen and Tor­ge­ir Møkle­by stran­ded the­re and star­ved to death. They had left a wea­ther sta­ti­on at Kva­de­hu­ken in Kongsfjord with a boat to look for a trap­per who was mis­sing, but beca­me trap­ped in ice and drifted nor­thwards. They were found dead in 1923, their dia­ries could be reco­ve­r­ed.


By the way:

New book

my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (3): Die Bären­in­sel und Jan May­en”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!


This and other publishing products of the Spitsbergen publishing house in the Spitsbergen-Shop.

last modification: 2019-04-19 · copyright: Rolf Stange