If I could choose one thing on Svalbard that I want to see, it would be the abandoned Russian settlement of Pyramiden. I love abandoned towns and this one has always been of great interest to me. Well.. I had actually booked a snowmobile trip to Pyramiden on Satuday 18th for 3250 NOK, which is a lot more than I would usually find reasonable to spend on a single tour, but since this was the only way to get to Pyramiden, I was willing to pay the price. I had been so excited for this trip for so long and my expectations were really high! But unfortunately, everything went really, really wrong.
I waited at the arranged pickup place for over an hour and later found out that they couldn’t find me (?), but eventually they did and brought me to the meetup place. There I was told that the ice that we were supposed to drive on had broke, so it was too dangerous to drive to Pyramiden.. Instead, they were offering to take us to the East Coast of Spitsbergen for the same price, but I was absolutely sure that I only wanted to pay such an enormous amount of money for Pyramiden, so I cancelled and got a refund. Of course, it is nice to have all of that money back, but I almost cried because I was so upset. There went my dream of going to Pyramiden and now I’ll have to come back to Svalbard, which is definitely not a bad thing, but still.. I think I would come back anyway though 😉
But instead of spending the day worrying about this misfortune, I decided to look for other tour options and actually found the ice cave tour, which was the one they had cancelled the day before.
So for just 710 NOK, I booked the ice cave tour and waited a couple of hours before going on an amazing hike that I already want to do again!
I went with a company called Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions and had a really nice and informative guide. We were only four participants on the hike, so it was very personal and intimate, which I really liked.
The ice cave is a part of Larsbreen, a glacier situated just outside Longyearbyen. We started the hike at the end of the town and walked around the Sarkofagen mountain (pictured above) to Larsbreen, where we found the entrance of the ice cave two hours later. By now, we were 500 meters above sea level and had a great view of Sarkofagen and the other nearby mountains.
The hike was quite steep at times and I found it quite difficult to walk in the snowshoes, but eventually I got used to them and really enjoyed the good exercise and the fresh air.
Now it was time to enter the cave, which was only possible by climbing backwards or sliding down it. So after putting on all of the equipment including a helmet and a headlight, I chose to slide down, which was a lot of fun and just like being a child again!
When I arrived at the bottom of the ice cave, I was amazed by the sight that met me. We were inside the glacier and there were beautiful ice crystals everywhere. According to the guide, the ice cave is 300-600 years old and it was easy to see how every winter, new ice had covered the old layers, leaving the stones to be trapped inside the ice – quite amazing to see, but hard to capture on the camera!
By the end of the ice cave, we had walked for 2 km. inside it and were 15 meters under the surface.
After exploring the ice cave for about an hour, it was time to head back to Longyearbyen and civilization.
On the way back, we hiked through a frozen glacial meltwater river valley and found ourselves sliding down steep hills once again!
I had a great experience on this tour and I’m no longer that sad that I didn’t go to Pyramiden, as I would’ve missed the ice cave if I had gone there. This was definitely one of the best hikes and tours that I’ve ever been on and I can really recommend booking with Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions, as they are all super nice and helpful and even though things didn’t turn out as planned, they made sure that I still had a great experience and a fabulous day!