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Svalbard (me too)


vikramghanekar
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vikramghanekar

After excellent Svalbard trip reports by @janzinand @pomkiwi, now it's my turn to start a Svalbard report.

 

Just like them, this trip was supposed to happen in 2021 , finally happened in May 2022.

I had booked this trip with Wild Focus Expeditions, a company owned by Jami Tarris and Theo Allofs.  They are a photographer wife-husband team based in Santa Fe, NM, USA. I have known Jami and Theo for a number of years. Back in 2016, Theo had conducted couple of photographic workshops in India which I attended. While going through the promotional material he had with him, I noticed a trip to Svalbard. I did enquire about it. But instead of Svalbard, I ended up going to Botswana with him in 2017. Finally, I booked for Svalbard in 2020.

The itinerary was:

April 29th: Check in hotel The Vault at Longyearbyen

April 30th: Full day in Longyearbyen, activities offered were either dog mushing or snow mobile ride. I chose the former.

May 1st: Board MS Freya at 4pm, set sail.

May 9th: Return to Longyearbyen and catch flight out.

None of the flights were included and meals at Longyearbyen were on our own.

 

I decided to stop in Oslo for 2 nights prior to reaching Longyearbyen to acclimatise myself from 40C to -10C.

 

The flights from Oslo to LYR was a complicated affair. The cheaper SAS flight operated in the middle of the night landing at LYR at 0200 hours.  The Norwegian flight was at a convenient time but was through Tromso and was much more expensive. I was also advised by Jami to book excess baggage so in the end my Norwegian flight was as expensive as my international flight.

 

After this came the hurdle of Schengen visa. As an Indian citizen, I had to apply to Norwegian embassy in New Delhi. This needed a host of documents including not just the itinerary and payment receipt but my 3 years income tax returns, bank statements etc. Norwegian embassy website advises not to book flight tickets till visa is issued but VFS does not accept applications without a ticket. So an agent booked a provisional ticket (charged) for me to take along while submitting my application. I also had to go to VFS office in Mumbai to get my biometrics scanned. I got my passport back after 10 days. They had given me visa for exactly 14 days, not a day more! 

 

I boarded Turkish airways flight at 0600 hours on 27th April from Mumbai. The flight was full of young professionals and students going to Istanbul for a break. As Turkish lira has nosedived against INR, it has become significantly cheaper to travel to Istanbul for a holiday.

 

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Mumbai as the plane took off. 

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Those who are familiar, with Mumbai can make out the Bandra - Worli Sea Link

 

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 6 hours later I was  in Istanbul. The airport quite large and nice but there were very few places to sit. As I was carrying a lot of photographic equipment, it was quite tiring trying to find a place just to rest.

 

Connecting flight went off on time and landed in Oslo at 5pm.

It was surprising to see how small the immigration area was. All EU citizens could just scan their passports and breeze through while the rest of us queued up in front of just 2 counters that were open for non EU citizens. There were 2 more counters for EU citizens who did not use the self scanning exits for some reason. Fortunately after finishing with EU citizens they started processing arrivals with passports from other countries.

After collecting luggage,  I got myself on the "Fly to get" fast train to city centre. I had bought tickets online and just needed to scan the ticket at the gate.

As I got on the train, 10 minutes passed and the train did not move. Then came an announcement in halting English that there was a signal failure in entire Oslo region and they were not sure when the train will move. Next 20 minutes were spent twiddling my thumbs and getting more anxious.

Finally after 30 minutes, the signal failure was sorted and the train started to move.

Within 30 minutes train reached  Central Station where I got out.

I had booked myself into Hotel Thon Opera, 2 minutes walk from the central station.

I was assigned a tiny single room in an annexe building which overlooked the open street in front of the station.

I decided to take a walk outside. The Opera house was just opposite and decided to spend some time there.

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Walking up the building

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View from the top

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 Interesting architecture

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After some time I decided to call it a day and retired back to the hotel.

As I said, central station is right opposite.

 

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Next day, I walked into the central station and got myself 24 hour Oslo pass from the visitors centre.

The pass costs 445 NOK and covers public transport in central area as well as entry to a bunch of museums.

A helpful lady at the counter helped me plan outing for the day.

First I caught a ferry from the pier to Bygdoy.

It was amazing to see big cruise ships so close to the shore. I guess it's because the Oslo fjord is quite deep to accommodate big ships.

 

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I got off the ferry to visit the polar ship Fram museum. But I was there too early. I spent next hour just walking around. There were bunch of school kids enjoying their outing.

 

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There were a few ducks out on the water mainly eiders. I had left my 500 F4 back at the hotel. But tried some shots with the 70-200 f2.8

 

4 male eiders were chasing a lone female and they were making some really strange noises.

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Showing off? 

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Couldn't identify this one.  ?Oyster catcher

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Gulls were everywhere

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Finally the museum opened. The shape is very unusual, probably because what it houses.

 

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I don't know about the claim about being best museum in Norway, but it was quite interesting.

 

Fram was built in 1892 specifically for polar expeditions. It was unique in its design such that when it was frozen in sea ice, it would not be crushed like other ships but would be lifted upwards on ice. It was put to use for expeditions to both North and South Pole.

 

Fram as seen when one enters the museum. It's quite dark to resemble the polar night.

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There quite a few exhibits from polar expeditions in late 19th and early 20th century.

 

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The museum has 2 more levels, allowing access to the deck of the ship.

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The deck

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From Fram, I walked into the next door Kon Tiki museum. Having read the story of this rafting expedition in the pacific as a school child, I was quite keen to visit the museum.

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For those who don't know the story, it's worth checking out

A film was made in 2012 on the same story. I haven't watched it though.

 

After Kon Tiki museum, I took a bus to the Norse folk Museum. It is sort of open air recreation of how people used to live in the past. Mildly interesting but nice gardens to spend some time.

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Next I hopped on a tram (sampling all public transport) and went to the Vigeland Park.

Stunningly beautiful park in the centre of the city with open air sculptures by artist Gustav Vigeland.

There was a large waterbody with lots of ducks and other waterbirds. I spent the afternoon just sitting, watching both birds and people going about their business. Coffee at the Cafe was decent.

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This central monolith has carved entwined human figures.

 

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I ended the day walking along the waterfront back to Opera House and Hotel Thon Opera

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Opera House was lit up with some dramatic light.

 

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michael-ibk

Really enjoying the Oslo photos, very nice!

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shazdwn

Great start, looking forward to more 

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Treepol

Great photos of downtown Oslo. Both maritime museums look very interesting.

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Oh great, looking forward to this. You are making me regret we didn’t spend any time in Oslo. It looks quite interesting.  
 

and I had no idea it was so complicated for Indians to get a visa!  

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Alexander33

Oh, good — we’ve got a true Svalbard Smorgasbord on Safaritalk right now! 
 

We spent 3 full days in Oslo, and thoroughly enjoyed the city. In addition to the museums mentioned, the Viking Museum was absolutely fascinating and well worth a visit. For art lovers, there is also the Munch Museum, and the National Museum (aka the National Gallery), which was closed when we were there in 2019, reportedly has just reopened as of last week. 
 

But perhaps my favorite place in Oslo was the outdoor bar on a cliff overlooking the harbor just below Akershus Fortress — perfect for a few drinks in the evening in good weather!
 

Looking forward to more. 

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Actually the above post reminds me one of the reasons we decided not to go into Oslo was that the Viking Museum was closed...until something like 2025! and that was the one museum we were particularly interested in (although these others look very interesting as well.)

 

BTW, that is definitely a Eurasian Oystercatcher in flight.

 

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vikramghanekar

29th April

 

Boarded Norwegian flight to LYR via Tromso. I knew about @janzinnightmare at the OSL airport. So I got to the airport very early. But I need not have worried. The flight was full but somehow I got an empty seat next to me. Because of all the camera gear, every time I go through security I have to take out everything and then it takes a long time to put everything back in place. This makes me nervous at airports. This time I was wearing shoes which had metallic eyes for laces (On my Africa trips I wear Crocs, easy to take off if I have to and track pants, no belt). So the shoes had to come off, creating even more mess. My camera bag went through the X ray 3 times before it was finally cleared. I wonder what is the experience like for every one else.

After we landed at Tromso, everyone had to get down with their carry on bags, stand in line to get their passport stamped. The officer took an awfully long time to inspect my passport, going through itinerary, tickets etc etc before clearing me. EU citizens of course breezed through. 

It was snowing in Tromso. They sprayed some kind of fluid on the wings to de-ice the flaps (that's what I thought) before take off.

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This is probably the only flight that I have taken where I was the only non white passenger. I don't know why, but it made me feel a little uncomfortable. (I must state that nobody made me feel uncomfortable).

 

After landing at LYR, it took almost an hour for the bags to arrive on the "belt". 

While waiting for baggage, I met Keith and Wayne from Australia (Keith waved at me) who were also joining on the trip with Wild Focus Expeditions and were on the same flight. 

We got on the bus and reached "The Vault" hotel where we were going to spend the next 2 nights.

In the evening the whole group met at a hotel (Basecamp Spitsbergen I think). Jami welcomed everyone and briefed about the next day. Options were either dog sledding or snow mobile trip. I chose dog sledding.

We had early dinner at one of the restaurants. After going back to the hotel, I promptly fell asleep, it didn't matter that it was quite bright outside.

Next day we were picked up from the hotel by our guide Frieda. She drove us first to their office where we got into one piece suits and thick boots to protect us from the weather. It was cold but sunny. From there we were taken to a place where the dogs were kept. This was about 15-20 minute drive from the town. Once we got there, we got to interact with the dogs. 

The dogs are a cross between Alaskan huskies and some other breed. Apparently this makes them more hardy and less prone to diseases than a pure breed husky. The dogs are much smaller in size than one imagines them to be. (Although I must admit this was my first time seeing sled dogs. Till then I had only seen much larger huskies in Mumbai kept in 24 x 7 air conditioned homes by their owners. I think it's a bit cruel to keep a husky in Mumbai). Their "homes" were really small boxes just large enough to accommodate them.  The dogs didn't seem unhappy though, they were barking enthusiastically and straining at their chains as they really wanted to go sledding!

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I am just 168cm  (5' 6 inches) , so you'll get the idea about size of the dogs.

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Frieda demonstrated how the dogs were to be harnessed and then attached to the sleds. 6 dogs to a sled. 1 person sits in the sled and 1 stands behind on the skis to "drive" the sled. One foot has to be on the "brake" almost continuously because the dogs just want to run as fast as they can. They have to be controlled by pressing down on the brake. She also demonstrated how to balance the sled by shifting one's weight from one foot to another as the sled passed over slopes.

Then we got to work. Every 2 person team had to harness their team of dogs. It was fun, but difficult to manage their collars and chains with thick gloves. Thankfully the dogs were super cooperative and friendly. They just wanted to Go! There were 3 different sizes (colour coded) of harnesses according size of the dogs. The positions of the dogs were also assigned according to their temperament.

All harnessed and ready to go.

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One can see harnesses hanging on the left in this picture.

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There were 5 sleds in all with Frieda leading the pack. I was paired up with Rima a neuroradiologist from the US. She had a bad shoulder and was jet lagged. So we decided that I will "drive" the sled and she would enjoy the ride. I was perfectly happy with that.

Frieda lead the pack. She had to keep on checking if anyone fell behind or was having difficulty. We established a sign language to communicate as it was hard to hear with all the layers, dogs barking and of course the distance between first and the last sled.

 

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She was carrying a rifle as it is mandatory. It was hard work as none of us had done this before. The dogs needed to be controlled as they were all the time trying to pull hard and rush ahead. It was very important to stop at least couple of meters from the sled in front lest the dogs get entangled up with the dogs ahead. However, this kept on happening from time to time. Frieda had to anchor her sled, walk back all the way to the problem sled and disentangle the dogs. One time as she walked back, dogs of our sled also started walking back, getting hopelessly entangled with each others leashes. Not an easy job, being a mushing guide!

The scenery was breathtaking though.

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Believe it or not, there's Rima in there! She sent this picture to her daughter and first thing her daughter asked "where are you in this picture?" :-) 

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After couple of hours, we stopped for lunch. All the reindeer skins in the sleds were pulled out and laid on the snow.

We had reconstituted dry meals for lunch followed by coffee. Not bad at all. 

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Lunch!

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Dogs were happy with their reindeer meat.

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On uphill sections or where the snow was deep, one had to get down and push the sleds in order to help the dogs.

This meant I never felt cold throughout the outing.

We came back to the dog "pen/ house/ compound" at around 4PM.

We de-harnessed and chained the dogs back to their kennels and spent some time with the puppies.

 

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Finally Frieda drove us back to the office where we "de-suited" before getting back to the hotel.

 

There are many other options for this trip, including a multi day camping trip. May be some time in future.

All in all on this trip, we covered about 30 KM.

 

We had a dinner at one of restaurants before hitting the sack. 

 

Next morning did not start well. Jami and Theo got us together and informed us that there was some problem with MS Freya's paperwork. The Swedish government had put its license to operate in arctic waters on hold.  The owners were trying hard to get the issue resolved.

This meant we could not be set sail in the afternoon! It was disappointing to say the least. What was worse that it was a Saturday. That meant permission may not come through till Monday! That's exactly what happened. With everyone distraught it was difficult to plan anything to do. All the excursions like snow mobile/ birding  were already out. 

Some of us just decided to take a walk around the town.

 

Old German cemetery with a coal mine on top

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Reindeer were out and about

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Dog walker with reindeer

 

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Some were quite co-operative

 

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Afterwards, I decided to head to the sea shore and the port.

Interesting scenes on the way. Not many places in the world where one can see washing machine an a sled.

 

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Close to the shore, I found this interesting bear made up of ?steel. A la game of thrones "throne". No idea about the production house though.

 

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Train of a different kind

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A typical road sign around Longyearbyen

 

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Another road sign. Although I don't understand what it says.

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After spending better part of the morning exploring, I headed back to the hotel to check out and have lunch. Everyone was scattered and nobody knew what was going to happen. But everyone had to check out of the hotel. Our luggage was put up in their holding room, spilling out in the corridor.

After lunch, we waited around in the hotel lobby to kill time. Finally at 4pm a mini bus came to pick us up and deposited us on the docks. We boarded the MS Freya and were assigned cabins.

After settling down, we gathered in the lounge. Apart from Theo and Jami, 2 guides were joining us on the trip. Renee (don't know if spelling is correct) and Arjan. Both had come from the Netherlands. A safety briefing was conducted which included a walk around the ship. After this, there was nothing to do apart from drink coffee, chit chat, read etc.

 

I took a walk around the dock. There were a few eider ducks on the water but not close enough to photograph.

 

Our home for the next week. In port or on open water, that was the question going through my mind.

 

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With Theo on the deck. 

 

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Some of us made use of free drinks offer (I don't drink anything more than a beer or two, so quite useless for me) followed by dinner at 7pm. I hit the bed not long after and slept for almost 11 hours straight.

 

Next day was just spent waiting, walking around the ship etc. Some of us contemplated booking a short excursion but the problem was when the approval came, we could sail right away which would be difficult if everyone was doing their own thing all over the place.

I just decided not to get worked up and ate/ slept/ read a bit. To me it was obvious that no government official was going to work on a Sunday, so there was no chance of any positive development. But I kept it to myself.

 

Finally next day in the afternoon word came that we were cleared to go! Hurrah! That called for a celebration.

 

Drinks all around

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Titti, Anna and Daniel in the galley. Titti getting a Freya special beer for me.

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Renee in action

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Arjen explaining ice charts

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Finally!

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vikramghanekar
On 6/14/2022 at 2:32 PM, Treepol said:

Great photos of downtown Oslo. Both maritime museums look very interesting.

 

Thank you!

 

15 hours ago, Alexander33 said:

Oh, good — we’ve got a true Svalbard Smorgasbord on Safaritalk right now! 
 

We spent 3 full days in Oslo, and thoroughly enjoyed the city. In addition to the museums mentioned, the Viking Museum was absolutely fascinating and well worth a visit. For art lovers, there is also the Munch Museum, and the National Museum (aka the National Gallery), which was closed when we were there in 2019, reportedly has just reopened as of last week. 
 

But perhaps my favorite place in Oslo was the outdoor bar on a cliff overlooking the harbor just below Akershus Fortress — perfect for a few drinks in the evening in good weather!
 

Looking forward to more. 

Must try this place next time! I missed the Akerhus fortress. 

 

The Viking museum was shut and so was the National Museum. Apparently, they are building a new museum to house both. Supposed to open sometime in next couple of years.

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Treepol

Enjoyed your photos of downtown Longyearbyen, it seems so strange to see reindeers in town but they look right at home!

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shazdwn

How frustrating to be stuck in port, glad it wasn’t for too long

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The dog-sledding trip looks amazing---although I daresay it would be too strenuous for me to handle. I'd be happy just visiting the dogs :) Apparently later in the year the dog sled compound is excellent for nesting eiders, as the dogs keep predators (mostly gulls I'd guess) away.

 

BTW, those PolarX "trains" are owned by the production company and they do all kinds of serious film production for Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. If you've seen a TV show or movie based in the Arctic regions, PolarX probably did all the support work. https://polarx.com/

 

The two-day hold up seems like a nightmare, even more disappointing than our zodiac issues. I think Arctic Wildlife Tours has some administrative issues they really need to take care of! And a real bummer you couldn't at least get off ship while you were waiting to do a birding tour or something, at least for a few hours.

 

So nice to see photos of the inside of the Freya, and Titti and Anna and Daniel!! I wish I'd taken some, I always forget to do take pictures of lodgings and people.

 

Looking forward to the next installment!

 

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Soukous

I'm enjoying this Vikram.

Husky sledding is an amazing experience. I did it in Finland years ago. I keep saying I'll go back and do it again but somehow never manage it. 

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jmharack

Dog sledding trip looks great!  Now I'm wishing we had gone to Longyearbyen 2 nights early instead of just one.  And it was so great to see Anna, Titti and Daniel in your picture, and the pictures of the lounge on the Freya.  They were such an amazing crew!

 

But I was so sorry to hear about your losing 2 days.  Is there anyone whose had a problem-free trip to Svalbard this season? Yikes

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vikramghanekar
14 hours ago, Treepol said:

Enjoyed your photos of downtown Longyearbyen, it seems so strange to see reindeers in town but they look right at home!

Thank you! I didn't expect them to be so common considering that they are hunted for meat in Svalbard. Looks like those around the town are protected.

 

@janzinThank you. Yes, the compound even then had a few birds which looked like Finches.  Had a brief view of the Ptarmigan as well. Checked out Polar X website.  Their "train" was there!

@Soukousand @jmharack@Treepol @shazdwn Thank you for following along!

 

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Kitsafari

the dog sledding activity was excellent. a proper full session and the dogs are quite well taken care of compared to those we saw at Pond Inlet. the state in which the dogs were kept in made my spouse and me decided against doing the dog mushing. we didn't want to be a part to contribute to their really poor and awful conditions. 

 

great photos of the Freya and sorry that the weekend was spent stationary in the boat. is the company compensating more, or are the drinks the only compensation? 

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vikramghanekar

So finally we were away.  After looking at the ice charts, decision was made to make way towards South along the west coast of Spitsbergen, checking the "Fast" ice in fjords along the coast. Fast ice is the sea ice still attached to land. Apparently this is where seals prefer to give birth and nurse their pups. This of course attracts hungry bears.

We were sailing on open sea for a while with clear waters before we hit some ice. My first experience of standing on the deck of a ship ploughing through ice. It was mesmerising !

 

Cruising through icy waters of Svalbard


Please let me know if the video works!

It was snowing and freeing cold but after being cooped up at the port, it was good to be out on the deck.

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Amazing landscapes. I was just happy clicking with my iPhone. Processed to taste in Lightroom.

 

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I went to the back of the ship. Beautiful scenes .

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Renee and Arjen were out, scanning for bears and so were most of us. Looking at the landscape, I realised how difficult it was going to be to spot an almost white bear on a white background.

 

Stopped near one of the fjords to look for bears on fast ice. 

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Some over the top processing with Lightroom. But I like it.

 

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One more.

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After a few hours of searching, it was time for dinner and bed.   

 

Next morning was spent cruising the fjords in the south. (Belsund, Hornsund) However, no luck. Only fulmars kept us company. 

 

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Fulmars are pelagic birds, staying out on the sea for days. That means they take in a lot of saline water. They have to get rid of the excess salt in their bodies which drips out through a special tube located on their upper mandible. Very interesting adaptation.

If you look closely you will see the tubular stricture on its beak.

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After a long time, finally a mammal! 

A walrus was spotted sleeping on floating ice. Captain manoeuvred the ship to have a closer look. 

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Not the most photogenic animal

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Rest of the day was spent looking for bears without result.

 

Next day at around noon, a bear was spotted far in the distance. 

It was a mother and a cub but quite far. Nevertheless I tried a few shots with my D500 + 500 F4 + 1.4 TC.

The duo were away from water's edge. But close to the edge was what looked like a small carcass with gulls feeding on it.

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B & W conversion 

 

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The decision to lower the Zodiacs was taken. However, the ice edge was quite tall and I wondered if getting low in a Zodiac would actually hamper our visibility.

Nevertheless, everyone was far too excited to get out on open water. Now we had to put on the survival suits. That was a big struggle. Bending down to put on shoes over the suit's "feet" was almost impossible. Besides my shoes were far too small to accommodate my feet, 2 layers of socks and the suit "feet". Hastily I squeezed my feet inside, something I deeply regretted not too far in future. Zodiacs were lowered, but the engine took a while to start. Fortunately not as bad as @janzin 's experience. The motors came to life and we were on.

Bears

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We waited a while for the bears to move/ come close to the kill but they actually walked even further and laid down.

I requested our guide to take us close to the kill to have a better look at it. He obliged.

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A seal pup? or a small reindeer? Don't know what it was!

But I got shot of a beautiful bird feeding.

The Ivory Gull. Here, the low angle from the Zodiac actually helped!

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We pulled away from the kill, hoping the bears would come and waited.

 

Some Guillemots came swimming close the Zodiac.

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Not shy at all!

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By now an hour had passed. The bears were not moving. My toes which were squeezed together in my shoes were now making their presence felt. They were now exquisitely painful. I tried wiggling them, stomping my feet, rubbing but the pain just won't go away. I was on the verge of requesting to let me back on the ship. Fortunately, the guides decided that there was no point in being out there in freezing wind when the bears were sleeping. So we headed back to the warmth of the ship to my great relief.

 

Back on the ship, I was much better after taking off the shoes and having some hot coffee! Next time, shoe laces will be as loose as they can be. Time to wait .

After couple of hours with no sign of bears coming back to the kill, a decision was made to start moving. We had finished 4 days out of 8 (2 of course in the port). So if we wanted to head North to explore sea ice, this was the time.

 

As the ship travels along the west coast of Spitsbergen, there is a relatively shallow narrow channel between the coast and an island off the coast (Prince Karls Foreland).  This channel (Forlandsundet) needs to be crossed during high tide to avoid safety issues. So the Captain informed us that the window of opportunity to cross that channel was 0700 to 1000 the next day. To make that crossing we needed to leave now. So we left, in a hurry.

Now that the ship was really moving at a quick pace on open waters, things started getting uncomfortable. I get car sick easily and was carrying number of meds with me. But I had completely forgotten to take any of them. They are relatively ineffective when you are already feeling sick.  As nausea hit me, I simply couldn't sit in the lounge and headed to my cabin to lie down.

I skipped dinner completely and woke up the next day at 0600! Apparently I was not the only one sea sick. I was informed by Anna that attendance at dinner last night was quite sparse. :-)

 

Once we reached sea ice in the North, it was stunning!

Birds were in thousands if not millions.

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Time to put 14-30 F4 S to work!

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Weather was gloomy but everyone was out scanning!

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Weather improved after a few hours. Iceberg!

 

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Bathed in golden light

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Some more

 

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Some evidence of the elusive predator's presence!

Tracks as fresh as they can be!

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Sea ice is like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle which are constantly on the move. So even if tracks point in one direction, the piece might have turned 180 degrees after the bear crossed. So it's futile to work out the bear's direction from the tracks. Tracking knowledge from African safaris doesn't work here on the sea! 

 

Did the bear go towards the land or North or South? No way to know! It's more like East Africa than Southern Africa here. Scan more track less.

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The search did not "bear" any fruit.  Instead a walrus float kept us entertained for some time.

 

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Who's disturbing my sleep?

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Pesky humans!

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These incisors are not for fun!

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We spent a day searching the sea ice. Soon, wind started to pick up speed from the North pushing sea ice south. Captain was a little worried that if this continued we might get stuck in ice. So decision was made to gradually make way South.

We had 2 1/2 days left. It was prudent to keep searching the fjords along the coast as we made our way south.

I was a little put off. Somehow, I had dreamt of capturing an image of a polar bear swimming from ice float to ice float in my mind. But that was not going to come through this time. But hey this is nature!

Next day was spent searching fjords along the coast. But that search didn't really prove successful. I was content to shoot the scenery as MS Freya made its way from one frozen fjord into another.

 

Spitsbergen!

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Glacier 

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Ice Pebbles rolling off thin crust of sea iceLandscapessouth-2.jpg.fe35077a71bbbf8788e0ce68686c12ec.jpg

 

Glacier and Ship

 

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Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time!

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The magic of sunshine

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River of snow

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Wake

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We gradually made our way into the Longyearbyen area.

36 hours left. The only chance now is Isfjorden and it's "sub" fjords.

Will finally luck shine on us or is it the end? Halfway around the world for one distant glimpse of a Polar bear or something special?

To be continued..... Final Instalment :-) 

 

 

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kilopascal

Really enjoying your report. I wasn’t planning on spending much time in Oslo but am rethinking this now. 

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Great report and beautiful photos. I am very very envious you saw an Ivory Gull and even got a lovely photo...believe it or not, with many serious birders on our cruise this was the #2 desired fauna! In fact for Tom S (the bird guide author) it was probably #1, even more than Polar Bear.

 

We also had that rough passage passing through that narrow channel at quite a clip at high tide.  But fortunately not quite as bad as yours, from what it sounds. I think that may have been when my camera rolled off the table :)

 

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jmharack

Beautiful pictures!  And ivory gull!  Wow!  

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The_Norwegian

another great report from Svalbard :-) 

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>>>Zodiacs were lowered, but the engine took a while to start

 

 I bet that made the crew really, really nervous after what happened on our trip just the week before!

 

 

 

 

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thanks for such wonderful photos

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Kitsafari

woah awesome to get a shot of the ivory gull!

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Ivory Gull, King Eider and Long-tailed Ducks. What's not to like?

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