Posted by: tim ellis | July 23, 2016

Svalbard – Saturday 23rd July 2016 – Ny-Ålesund

Norge N1

We get our first sighting of icebergs as we sail up Kingsford to Ny-Ålesund. We arrive over breakfast, and are able to moor at the jetty, so have the luxury of being able to walk off the boat – no lifejackets required.

The town is an ex-mining settlement, now a scientific community, home to 11 institutions from 10 different countries and is the northernmost permanently inhabited settlement at 78o55’. (It is closer to the North Pole than to Oslo). It is also the last shopping opportunity – postcards, t-shirts, maps and books, alongside more mundane items like toothpaste and shampoo. There is a bust of Roald Amundsen in the town, as well as the mast that was used to secure the “Norge” airship which he used in the first successful trans-polar voyage (from Spitsbergen to Canada). Finally there is a visitor’s centre and museum, with information about the history of the town and the local environment.

Puffins

We are welcomed back aboard ship with hot towels and hot chocolate, before setting sail over lunch for the 14th July Glacier, where we undertake a zodiac cruise amongst the ice, followed by a walk along the beach. We see Bearded Seal, Svalbard Reindeer, Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese, Arctic Skua (with chicks), Guillemots, Puffin, Kittiwake and Glaucous Gull. We also see several flowers including Moss Campion, (which can be used a compass, if you know the date, or a calendar if you have a compass…) Bird Lichen, Dandelion, and several others which we can’t immediately identify , since Colin turns out not to have put his flower book into his bag. No towels or chocolate await us on our return, but there is time for a coffee and a cookie before the evening briefing.

The 14th July Glacier

As we approach our overnight anchoring point in a very picturesque fjord, there is a claim that Walrus have been spotted on the back of a spit of land – not that I can see them, nor any of the other passengers I talk to on deck…

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