(a mini-) TRIP REPORT: Svalbard, Norway, June/July 2016


[Sorry for the smaller image sizes and the obnoxious © notices; I’m getting too many whole site downloads from Russia, Ukraine and China, which I expect are image thefts, and my images are showing up on google images--so I’m making their unauthorized reuse a little more difficult]

This isn't a full Travel Report, but rather a sampling of images and some captions that I hope will explain what you are viewing. I don't have the time or inclination for a full report, but some of you have expressed interest to see what I had photographed.

THE TRIP: Fellow photographer Steve Kaufman (from the Cantwell area) and I traveled to Norway in mid-June to spend some time in the Tromso area of northern Norway, and then flying to Longyearbyen (on Svalbard) to join a small-ship photographic tour. Svalbard is a semi-independent archipelago administered by Norway--at both Tromso and Oslo we had to pass through Norwegian immigration, to give you an idea of how independent--that was formerly known as Spitsbergen.

The tour was organized by Cheeseman's Ecological Safaris, aboard the 112 foot Polaris 1, out of Marseilles, France, with a crew of seven. (Yes, the food was gourmet and very rich, so when we returned to Oslo, we couldn't wait to order a hamburger and fries!). With only 12 participants and two guides, each with their own room and private bath, we never felt crowded (except sometimes when 7 people tried to photograph from a small Zodiac raft). The guides were excellent, with much previous experience, so they knew the places where best to find what we wanted to see and photograph.

First some images from the Tromso area; we spent 5 nights at a resort hotel in Sommaroy, along the coastal fjords about an hour away, and day-tripped from there. The weather was sometimes marginal because of rain and wind, but I did manage some usable photos.

Harbor Scene

The view from our hotel

Boat At Anchor

The small villages in the fjords anchor their boats, rather than having a marina

Eurasian Curlew

Some new birds for me, like this Eurasian Curlew

Eurasian Oyster Catcher

Eurasian Oyster Catcher

To avoid problems with missed flights and lost luggage, both Steve and I like to arrive early at a trip departure point, so we arrived 3 days early at Longyearbyen. This also allowed me to explore the "capital" of Svalbard, to use the term lightly. Longyearbyen, a town of over 2000 permanent residents, is home to an appointed Governor and serves as the administrative center. The town was named for the American investor of the first coal mining operation in 1906, but now with only one small coal mine in operation (mainly to provide heat and electricity to the town), survives mainly on tourism and research.

Coal Tramway

In its heyday, Longyearbyen was the coal collection point of at least 4 aerial tramways from distant mines

Orange Door

Typically Nordic, Longyearbyen uses splashes of color to liven the sometimes dreary Arctic weather

Colorful Roofs

Housing units are commonly built in multiples, which can be photographically interesting


With typical Scandinavian precision, the wooden shakes on the side of a church make an interesting pattern


I can attest to the claim that there are more snowmobiles in Longyearbyen than people!


Only in the Arctic would you see a sign like this...

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