Flying into Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago just 1.310 km from the North Pole, I couldn’t believe the sight that met my eyes. I looked out of the window and everywhere I looked were enormous snow-covered mountains surrounded by cold, ice-blue water. No houses to be seen, no roads, no signs of civilization. Just pure wilderness. A place so remote that for as long as your eye can reach, you’ll see nothing but arctic nature, untouched by humans.
Svalbard currently has 5 settlements that are still inhabited as well as several abandoned settlements; Hornsund is a Polish settlement with 12 inhabitants, Sveagruva is a Norwegian settlement with 9 inhabitants, Ny-Ålesund is a Norwegian settlement with 33 inhabitants, Barentsburg is a Russian settlement with 812 inhabitant and the largest village, Longyearbyen, has 1831 inhabitants.
For the six days that I’m staying in Svalbard, I’ll be staying with a lovely Polish couple in Longyearbyen.
Originally, I had booked a room at Coal Miners Cabin, but for a price of over 5000 NOK, I really wanted to find a couchsurfer instead and I was lucky to find Dominika and Piotrek, who offered me a room in their apartment for a much cheaper price than the hostel.
I arrived in Longyearbyen at 11:55 AM and took a bus to the “center”, where I, after half an hour of trying to find the apartment by myself, got help from a nice local man and eventually found it.
I didn’t do much that day, apart from trying to fix my jetlag and taking a nice walk in Longyearbyen.
Before coming to Svalbard, I had booked some – really expensive – tours, since you’re not allowed to leave the settlements without a gun to protect yourself from polar bears – and I really don’t want to be responsible for an animals death.
I was the only person under 30 on the tour, but I managed to find some really nice people to talk to.
The first thing that we had to do on the tour was to get all the dogs ready. They were all so incredibly cute and friendly!
But my favourite thing was so watch the dogs poop, as they tried to run on their two front legs to do it and left it all behind them for everyone to smell – so hilarious! And I was really thankful to be in the front sled at that point.
It was really fun to steer the sled and I definitely enjoyed that much more than just sitting in the sled. One thing that I would’ve liked was if we were given time to drive the sled on our own without a guide, but since we were the front sled, we had to have a guide with us all the time.
When we got back to the kennels, it was time to take the harnesses of and lead them back to their small houses, where they would rest for four hours before going of again.
Thankfully, the wolf had no scratches or holes despite being treated like prey, but that’s what you get, when you pay for quality (thank you Spirithoods x Black Milk!)
Overall, my experience of the dog sledding was good and I learned a lot from the guide. The tour was quite pricy in my opinion, but it was definitely worth it and I would recommend it to anyone going to Svalbard.
It was something that I’d always wanted to do and now I want to do it again – maybe the next time will be in Greenland? We’ll see!