The road through Norway, part IV: Svalbard

Being the last outpost before the North Pole, the backcountry of Svalbard is one that truly deserves to be called wilderness. On these desolate islands approximately 2500 people share the land with more than 3000 polar bears. The geography is striking: pointy mountains rising out of the sea, broad valleys crosscut by glacial rivers, ridgelines as sharp as the edge of a knife. 60% percent of the land is covered with ice.

Outside of the main settlements (and even inside of the smaller ones) carrying a rifle and a signal pistol are basic safety requirements. It’s a land of hunters and trappers, where sound instincts and a good intuition are necessary for survival, where us humans are not always on top of the food chain. I had seen Svalbard once before in summertime so a return to the islands while completely covered in a white, fluffy blanket was long overdue.

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Jostedalen National Park

Ice cave Nigardsbreen

Deep inside Norway’s rugged fjord country and right into its high alpine area lies Jostedalsbreen, covering almost 500 square kilometres of mountain terrain with ice. It is the largest ice cap on continental Europe and thanks to its remote location it offers excellent opportunities for hiking, ice climbing, glacier walking, kayaking, etc. The park caters for everyone’s needs: from easily accessible glacial tongues and guided family tours on the ice to steep mountain tours and multi day ice cap crossings. It is a stunningly beautiful place and a recommendation for anyone who visits Norway with a love for untouched nature.

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A Story of Arctic Beauty: Spitsbergen

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After moving to Sweden I started making regular trips into Arctic territory and realized that there is something special about the parts of this planet located above the Arctic circle. On every visit, I am amazed by the natural beauty of these areas. I feel free. I feel like I want to get lost and forget about the rest of the world. Naturally, Spitsbergen/Svalbard had been on top of my things-I-absolutely-need-to-do list for a considerable time.

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So when my boyfriend found out that it is remarkably easy and surprisingly not expensive to get there, he easily found a companion to come along. Spitsbergen became the holiday to celebrate the end of my internship and hence the end of my studies. I don’t think I could have thought of a better destination to celebrate the occasion. Off we went, on our closest bid to the North Pole yet.

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