Spitsbergen, a Dutch word meaning "pointed peaks", is the largest and only permanently inhabited island in the Svalbard archipelago. Although 60% of the island is covered by glaciers, it is a quite diverse wilderness, home to over 4000 polar bears, as well as walrus, artic fox, reindeer, seals and whales. But no penguins! You'll only find them south of the equator.
Longyearbyen offers regular flight connections to mainland Norway, a number of excellent hotels (including a 4-star Radisson) and restaurants, as well as a wide range of activities to suit all types of tastes during all seasons. Summer activities include hiking, fossil hunting, polar cirkel trips, an Isfjorden safari and summer dog-sledding. Winter activities include exploring glaciers and ice caves, snowmobile safaris, dog sledding and aurora watching.
Classic cruise lines include Spitsbergen on a number of itineraries, however I recommend an expedition cruise to truly enjoy the region. They will take you into the fjords, bring you up close and personal (but safe) to wildlife, and daily explorations off the ship, to hike, to take photographs, to simply take in beauty beyond measure.
A range of expeditions are available, from Lindblad, Ponant and Silversea to Quark Expeditions, Hurtigruten and Ocean Expeditions (and I'm sure I've missed a few).
This article was originally posted on 3/30/2016.
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contact us at 602.540.7338 or email Laurie@lakamatravel.com