Photo Journey Through The Arctic
A magazine has contacted me to write an article about my experiences on the photo journey through the Arctic in Svalbard, Norway. A photo journey through the Arctic, wow, this tour was fantastic. All photographers got great photographs of the animals and nature, what the Arctic has to offer. A photo journey through the Arctic.
Arctic journey to Svalbard, far north of Europe, above the Arctic Circle to encounter northern Wildlife in their natural environment and the vastness of its landscape. The wild Arctic in Svalbard, also called Spitsbergen, is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Most people I know asked me where on earth is this? It is in the far north, right between Norway and the North Pole, north of the Arctic Circle around 74 – 81 degrees longitude. Wow, I’ve never been far north, and we went much further to the north with the boat than Svalbard!
A beautiful iceberg in the shape of Loch Ness. The rising morning sun gave us an incredible golden shine on the sea.
Polar bears eat nearly everything
We encountered Polar Bears in Svalbard eating seaweed, sleeping under the full moon, and sunbathing on a sandy beach. What else? I have learned that Polar bears eat nearly everything when hungry, so it’s better not to meet one on foot as you might get eaten!
How far can a Polar Bear swim?
Usually, the Polar Bears follow their “living food” through the pack ice; however, some just miss the train and get stuck on Svalbard’s islands, and others try to swim to the pack ice. Not all reach the ice sadly. They drown on their way.
Since the pack ice declines more and more every year. That means the more extended is the way Polar Bears have to swim to reach their actual ”food” they are used to. How far can a Polar Bear swim? The seals are following the pack ice easily.
I do not know the answer to how far a Polar Bear can swim correctly! Scientists recorded 90 – 420 miles with GPS trackers! But the pack ice shrinks every year more, the distance gets further and further. Can Polar Bears swim 500 or even 1000 miles when needed?
Polar bear standing at the edge of a rock overlooking the Arctic sea.
There is nothing
One sentence I heard quite often from friends and neighbors when I told them that I go to Svalbard: ”What do you want up there? There is nothing.” Sure there are lots and much more. OMG, there is plenty!
It is a remote place, with so much to see. One has just to open their eyes. I flew to Svalbard, actually not too far from Switzerland, but quite an odyssey to get there. In Oslo, I had to stay overnight to catch my next plane to Svalbard. Tromso one more stop than finally off to Svalbard / Longyearbyen. When we flew over Svalbard, I saw so much from air, my first thoughts were: hope I brought enough hard drives, memory cards and more of all that to be able to store all my photographs. I was in awe of this place, and still, I am.
Photo Journey Through The Arctic
Indeed, the real Natural World of a remote place with all its Arctic Wildlife in their natural habitat. The most significant contrast to my Africa / Asia trips! I did have enough storage along. 2 large external hard drives, for double back up, enough memory cards. It was just enough for 9 nights on a boat and 2-3 days in Longyearbyen. The photographs I took already in Longyearbyen, I uploaded in the Hotel via PC on Internet storage, just to have enough space for the boat trip. You never know what to expect! I am glad that I did the internet backup.
A colossal walrus enjoys the rising sun at the beach of the Moffen Island in Svalbard, Norway.
After two days in Longyearbyen, it was time to depart with the boat. I shared a cabin with a lovely woman from Sweden. The majority on board were men; there were four women and 32 or so men: I did not count. Of course, there were more women on board as staff.
Sailing into the arctic ocean
We drove out from Longyearbyen into the Arctic Ocean during the late afternoon. Oh, the sunset, wow, a blow your mind sunset more extraordinary than anything I’ve seen so far in my life. The waves which followed were immense; If you get seasick, you should bring enough sea sickness pills along. Everybody wants to enjoy such a trip, not to spoil it with seasickness. Although I do not get seasick, I took some just as a precaution. The waves were quite high sometimes. Also, I wanted to be able to photograph while not being sick!
We had an early wakeup call the next morning for the zodiac loading; we had five of them, and each zodiac held about six-eight photographers. The journey continued through a fjord filled with icebergs of all sizes from the glacier in Kongsfjorden. The light was amazing.
Small and large pieces of ice floating in a fjord in Svalbard at sunrise. On out photo journey through the Arctic we came across many ice floating in the sea.
Drifting through icebergs
Drifting through these icebergs was terrific, small, or big, so amazing and so silent! The sun was not even above the horizon; this gave us fantastic light. In the arctic, the sunrise and sunset in the early and late summer months takes a very long time. No running to catch the five minutes of light, it felt like an endless sunrise or sunset. Just amazing.
After two-three hours, we went back to the boat to have breakfast and continued our journey. When I met my cabin mate in the cabin, I asked her: How was it? She was speechless, overwhelmed by the beauty of the Arctic. During breakfast, I realized for the first time that I was on a boat with so many men. The restaurant was full of very polite men, helping here and there or even let me go in front of the buffet. I must say, all were gentlemen throughout the voyage, offering me their lenses to test them if I like or even to take them with me in the zodiac when they used different lenses. I am delighted with my lenses, they did their job very well.