Svalbard – a World of Wonder

Svalbard, NorvegiaThe Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard was once known as Spitsbergen, and it is located in the Arctic Ocean. It is north of the European mainland, roughly midway between the North Pole and Norway.

How Is the Weather?

In a word, cold. The location of the archipelago and its high latitude dictate the local climate. January temperatures average between 3F and 10F. These temperatures, moderated by the North Atlantic Current, are actually higher than the winter temperatures in similar latitudes of Canada and Russia. This means that the waters that surround the archipelago remain navigable and open for most months of the year.

The interior valleys and fjord areas are sheltered by mountains, and their temperature differences are greater than those along the coast. This means that the summer temperatures are about 4F warmer in summer and 5F colder in winter compared to the temperatures on the coast. Bear Island experiences higher average temperatures than does the rest of this archipelago.

Summer Activities

In summer and autumn months in Svalbard, you can combine boat cruises and trips with hiking and other sports. The Svalbard summer has lively bird cliffs under which you may hike, and you can pitch a tent in a gorgeous landscape that is encircled by glaciers ad mountain peaks.

If you take a kayak tour, you may catch sight of seals basking on sheets of ice. It’s a great way to get closer to the rugged nature of the area. Steady kayaks are paddled along Advent Fjord, which takes you close to wild animals and gives you a chance to experience the silence of the Arctic. You might also enjoy dog sledding on wheels, without the snow. Your dog team will become close friends as you travel with them.

If you’d like to sit instead of standing, you may want to go horseback riding on calm Icelandic horses that will take you on the tundra and along the ocean. You’ll enjoy a pleasant ride, while you experience views of arctic flora, reindeer and busy bird life.

Winter Activities in Svalbard

The winter travel season gives you the chance to combine longer ski trips with dogsledding on snow or snowmobile safaris. Ascending the highest peaks using skis may only be a dream for many, but some might like to try it. Snowmobiles and dog teams allow you to explore the wonderland of winter.

Other Interesting Activities

Touring this archipelago is not all about snow. At the Longyearbyen Gallery, you will enjoy an impressive collection of old books and maps. It’s a wonderful place for people longing to learn about the area. The gallery also contains a slide show by composer and photographer Thomas Widerberg, and a painting exhibition of the works of Kare Tveter.

Longyearbyen also offers the Svalbard Museum, which has a variety of exhibits of hunting and mining history, along with the plants and animals of the area. Cable trestles are now monuments to the days when coal-mining carriers were driven manually. They used “kibs” to send the coal on to a cleaning plant.

Allan is a writer and he loves to write about many different topics including this particular one.

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