A Taste of the Arctic
A Taste of the Arctic – Reykjavik, Grimsey Island & Svalbard
This post comes from the northernmost point in Europe, North Cape (Nordkapp). I spent the last couple of weeks above the Arctic Circle (latitude 66° 33′ 44″ north and higher) with Zegrahm Expeditions. Going there was a rather impromptu decision that I made mid-June, having had enough of the summer heat and becoming increasingly desperate to fulfil my childhood dream of one day seeing polar bears in real life. This seemed particularly pressing after having recently read an article on how polar bears may actually disappear within the next five to ten years due to climate change….
I travelled from Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, crossing the Arctic Circle via Grimsey Island, Iceland, reaching Svalbard archipelago through the island of Jan Mayen, followed by the circumnavigation of the island of Spitsbergen, finishing in the town of Tromso, Norway.
In the Arctic, you are completely overwhelmed by the sense of the sublime: an overwhelming feeling of awe produced by magnificent landscapes and spectacular wildlife sightings becomes more prominent with the lack of human presence, due to hostile conditions during winter months. As a precursor for the full post on my experience in the Arctic, here are a few, amongst many, highlights from this trip:
- Reaching the latitude of 80 degrees north, 600 nautical miles from the North Pole!
- Three polar bear sightings, four polar bears in total, in Svalbard.
- Waking up one morning at 5.30am to brilliant sunshine and to several humpback whales feeding right next to the ship.
- Sitting on my balcony, looking at the midnight sun, watching orcas swim alongside the ship, while sipping champagne.
- Taking in all the spectacular, often desolate, Arctic scenery: stunning rock formations; abundance of ice in various forms: glaciers, icebergs, sea ice; proliferation of small stunted arctic plants; stretches of black sandy beaches.