Kayaking in the white wilderness of the Arctic is an ethereal experience as you glide serenely through the ocean. If you are lucky, you may be able to watch (from afar) the process of glacier calving, or iceberg calving as it’s also known. This occurs when large chunks of ice break from the edge of a glacier. These little ‘calf’ glaciers then splash spectacularly into the sea below, often accompanied by loud booms and large waves. Dedicated kayaking trips run daily from Longyearbyen and are also included in many of the Arctic tours which frequent the Svalbard region.
It’s not known as ‘the land of the midnight sun’ for nothing. The Arctic is home to one of the most remarkable natural lighting phenomena in the world. And no, we’re not talking about the northern lights. During summer, visitors to Svalbard bear witness to a sight arguably just as impressive as the famed (yet often elusive) northern lights. For several weeks of the year, the sun never fully sets over the Arctic thanks to the Earth’s angle to the sun. This means that between late April and late August, the Svalbard archipelago is bathed in an intense, reddish light in the late evenings and early mornings which simply must be seen to be believed.
The natural wonders of the Arctic aren’t the only awe-inspiring sights to see in Svalbard. The human endeavours within the region are impressive, to say the least. From abandoned research stations, to the world’s northernmost post office, there are plenty of attractions to take you back in time and have you marvelling at the ingenuity of the human race. Be sure to check out the bust of Roald Amundsen, as well as the historic airship mast at Ny Ålesund. This former mining town is now home to a multinational crew of intrepid Arctic researchers.
(Nikolay Savelyev; Filip Kulisev; Page Chichester)
Arctic Norway is a photographer's dream: colourful tundra gives way to icescapes, glistening waves splash up against looming peaks and glaciers (accounting for 60% of the land area) shine bright in the sunshine. Make sure you pack your camera and some good walking shoes – you'll want to get up close and photograph everything. Hiking is a popular activity in Svalbard, walking the shores and mountains in search of sheltering polar bears, Svalbard reindeer and Arctic foxes.
After you've finished hiking, make sure you fuel up. You can enjoy some of the freshest seafood in the world at one of Longyearbyen’s many incredible restaurants, or treat yourself to a beer from Svalbard’s own brewery. Enjoy a midnight not-quite-sunset, cocktail in hand, before topping it all off with a trip to the world’s northernmost chocolatier, Fruene.