Arriving to Svalbard

We arrived in the middle of the night, the Arctic sun being high in the sky. We had been sailing for almost a week, and were now in Svalbard waters, you can't get nearer North Pole in Europe. In order to get some lee for the night, we needed to stay West of the outer, uninhabited island called Prince Karls Forland.

It is also one of the most known places where the Svalbard Walrus live.

Svalbard Walrus, Prince Karls Forland
Basking in the sun in a huge heap to keep the body warmth in almost-freezing temperatures, these incredible animals were a perfect first Svalbard sight. Mae West is in the background, together with another boat (a Bavaria with a completely insane German skipper)

Taking photos of the animals, I noticed a few white shapes in the strait. What was that? Pieces of ice floating by? 

It turned out to be curious Beluhas - white ancient whales, rarely seen, living in Arctic waters. They were so curious, they basically touched our dinghy when I was filming them. Amazing creatures.

Beluha whales in the background, walrus heap in front. Svalbard mountains at the far back.
I spent a few days in Svalbard, visiting both Barentsburg, Longyearbyen, Grumant and the areas nearby. Spent an epic night in Mary Anns Inn, an unforgettable place. Barely made it to the morning flight, arriving basically barefoot and still wet from the night's pool party under the neverending Artic sun, but that's another story...

Polar bear warning in Spitsbergen. Here, it is illegal to go outside of the cities without a gun.

Green cliffs outside of the abandoned village of Grumant.

Russian mining cities, worn down by time, some abandoned. Worth a story on their own...

S/Y Mae West on anchor outside Longyearbyen.
I will be definitely coming back to Svalbard. There are peaks to be climed, vast areas to ski across, there are more hidden places to discover. I lead expeditions there whenever needed, see my Expedition list - I have the possibility to interpret both Norwegian and Russian, advise on sailing or sightseeing, and provide armed protection whenever you are not in urban areas (which is basically most of Svalbard).