On arrival in Longyearbyen you may wish to visit the Svalbard Museum which has an interesting collection on the history of Spitsbergen, the mining industry and polar exploration. In the afternoon we sail, setting course for Alkhornet, a high cliff. Arctic Fox can often be found below the cliffs where they scavenge off fallen bird eggs and chicks. We continue to Trygghamna to visit the remains of a 17th century English whaling station and an 18th century Russian Pomor station.
We leave Tryghamna early in the morning and sail to the north side of Bell Sund. Bell Sund is a fjord system with two major branches (Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord) and one smaller side bay (Recherchefjord). The geology is fascinating and has created amazing landscapes, such as the long, narrow island of Aksel ya that blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely. In Fridtjofhamna, the calving glacier Fridtjofbreen is surrounded by picturesque mountains. The rich wildlife of the area has attracted hunters throughout several centuries - we will walk in their footsteps and see remains of their huts - for example, at Ahlstrandhalv ya. Recherchefjord is one of the places in Spitsbergen with the highest concentration of historical sites, dating back to 17th century whalers and the mining period of the early 20th century. The glacier Recherchebreen ends at a lagoon, likely to be frozen in October, with many smaller icebergs. Polar Bear are likely to be present anywhere in the Bellsund area, and we will keep a keen watch to find them. We have also seen Beluga (white whales) in this area.
Today we visit Barentsburg, the only inhabited Russian settlement in Spitsbergen. Here we revel in stories of how the local miners survive the polar winter. There is for instance, a swimming pool filled with heated sea water.
We sail into the inner reaches of the Isfjord system along some beautiful glacier fronts, where during nights with open sky we will experience temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius. The first new ice will be forming on the heads of the fjords.
This morning we disembark in Longyearbyen after breakfast.