The night before the early morning flight from Paris to Longyearbyen ( the northern most airport in the world) I kept my curtains open to appreciate the darkness as I would not see it for more than a week. Upon landing we did a quick tour of the coal-mining town on Spitsbergen Island, part of Norway’s archipelago of Svalbard. While known mostly for a great place to see the Northern Lights, that does not happen in June! We visited a few museums, ate a great lunch and then boarded our ship, the Le Boreal, one of Le Ponant’s small but modern boats….and incidentally the same one I traveled on to Antarctica in 2019.
Luckily for me, they waived the single supplement so I was able to travel on my own and enjoy a luxurious cabin all to myself! And this particular cruise was in alliance with the Smithsonian Institute. It was certainly worthy of a college credit due to the expertise of the visiting professors and the naturalists/guides that accompanied us.
I wanted to see Polar Bears, but just like one of my trips to India where I wanted to see tigers, I knew it wasn’t assured. I also wanted to see narwhals, walruses and the arctic terns. It reminded me of African safaris where you had a check list!
I don’t have a fancy camera, in fact, I have only a Google phone but I did bring my binoculars. The first day I saw reindeer and many different birds. And the second and third day the polar bears kept me in awe.
Never did see the whale or seal that others saw, nor did I see a narwhal. However I did see walruses from afar and saw the arctic terns up close! The birders on board were thrilled with the plethora of species especially the little auks!
A special thank you to some of my new friends who shared their photos with me.