Svalbard is an archipelago located in the arctic ocean, belonging to Norway. Only three of all the islands are inhabited: Spitsbergen, Bear Island (Bjørnøya) and Hopen. The largest town is Longyearbyen, located in Spitsbergen and where a phenomenon occurs in few places in the world: the midnight sun lasts from April 20 to August 23 and the perpetual darkness from October 26 to 15 February.
60 percent of Svalbard is covered by glaciers and snowy expanses. The North Atlantic current tempers the Arctic climate, keeping the waters clean and navigable for most of the year. In addition, Longyearbyen is the town with more than 1000 northernmost inhabitants of the world.
The islands, in addition to the tourist activity, serve as a breeding area for the "goose" brant (Branta leucopsis) and a great variety of different birds. Four species of mammals inhabit the archipelago: the field mouse of Svalbard (Microtus epiroticus), the arctic fox, the reindeer of Svalbard (a distinctive subspecies) and the polar bears.
At the door of the restaurants and shops of Longyearbyen, there are hooks to hang the rifles. This is due to the fact that the population of polar bears is greater than human persons, so it is not only advisable to go out armed of your house or lodging, but it is almost obligatory.
Also, in Longyearbyen you can find hotels, airport, university, tourist office, heated municipal swimming pool, warm restaurants and even a wine bar with the best wines from around the world.
It is a place, that in the summer months, hundreds of backpackers arrive daily for walks and venture into the virgin landscape of this archipelago. In the winter months, the scenography becomes an abundant ice, a beautiful landscape for any human eye.
In addition to arriving by plane to this archipelago, a good option, although more expensive, is through a cruise. This option ranges from $ 25,000 to $ 56,000 Norwegian crowns.
Thanks to the environmental and preservation policies of nature that Norway has been carrying out in recent years, the territory of the Svalbard archipelago has become a paradise that many people idolize daily. Nearly two-thirds of Svalbard's surface is protected, including three nature reserves, six national parks, 15 bird sanctuaries and a special protected area of environmental interest.
It is forbidden to drive outside the 46 km road, which is on the whole island. In turn, there is no road that connects two settlements, so if you want to move, you will have to do it by boat when it is summer or on snowmobiles in winter.
What to do in Svalbard?
In winter: all those related to ice and snow. Cross-country skiing, racket expeditions, ice climbing, ice cave caving, snowmobile expeditions.
In summer: when snow and ice melt, water and land become the protagonists. Activities with kayaking, trekking, camping for several days, boat expeditions along the coast.
Visiting Svalbard is not for anyone. There are certain conditions that tourists must face throughout their stay in this archipelago. The first and most important is the weather, not all visitors resist the cold of the arctic. The second is that it is a very expensive country for two reasons: one because it belongs to Norway, one of the most expensive countries in the world and two, all the activities that take place outside the settlement area must be done with armed guidance because of the risk of polar bears.
Last data, if you want to visit this archipelago in the period where the nights are dark, then, you can not leave this site without seeing some aurora borealis. It is, without a doubt, one of the things that every human being must do once in life.
+ Here is the "Vault of the End of the World" (Svalbard Global Seed Vault). It is a silo that is proof of earthquakes, floods and nuclear explosions, where the seeds of virtually all species of crops that serve as food are stored and that were created to safeguard biodiversity in the event of a global catastrophe.
+ In Svalbard it is forbidden to die! Due to an experiment carried out at the beginning of the 20th century, where scientists took a tissue sample from two sailors who were buried, it was discovered that the corpses were in perfect condition. The news spread and, with the idea that a body frozen after his death could be cured and resurrected in the future, there began to be a boom of population movement towards the island with the intention of being buried in it for that futuristic plan. Given this, there was no other remedy on the part of the authorities, than to prohibit burials on the island. And until today, 70 years later, that's the way it goes. The deceased people here are taken to a plane to be buried on the continent or in their country of origin.
*Location: Svalbard is located 2.000 Km north from Oslo.
*Duration: 3 days.
*Requirements: A visa is required to arrive in the archipelago.
*Warning: It is forbidden to drive outside the 46 km of road that is on the whole island.
*Advice: It is recommended to hire travel insurance and take a lot of shelter.
*Best time: Summer for those who want complete days of sun, winter for those who enjoy the nights and the northern lights, and autumn and spring for those who want to enjoy both phenomena.