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.
Leaving Trygghamna early in the morning, you sail to the north side of Bellsund. Here you find a fjord system with two major branches: Van Mijenfjord and Van Keulenfjord – and one smaller side bay, Recherchefjord. The geology has created particularly unique landscapes here, such as the long and narrow island of Akseløya, which blocks Van Mijenfjord almost completely. In Fridtjovhamna, the calving glacier Fridtjovbreen is surrounded by picturesque mountains. The rich wildlife of this area has attracted hunters throughout the centuries. At Ahlstrandhalvøya you can walk in the hunters’ footsteps, examining the remains of their huts. Recherchefjord has one of the highest concentration of historical sites in all of Spitsbergen, ranging from 17th century whaling culture to the mining period of the early 20th century. The glacier Recherchebreen ends at a lagoon, likely to be frozen in October, and several smaller icebergs. Polar bears are commonly sighted all over Bellsund, so keep your eyes open for them and for the belugas that frequent 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.