Day 2: Outside the comfort zone

Today we went outside of Longyearbyen for the first time. We followed the few roads that lead in and out of the town, mainly along the “Advent valley”.

On the whole archipelago, there are a total of 45 Km of roads, so you can understand that our tour didn’t take very long, despite the many stops for pictures and sightseeing.

Most of the roads are actually unpaved

The landscape of Svalbard is almost untouched by human activity. The only big exceptions to this rule are due to the coal mining industry, which played a big role in the island history and economic development.

Coal is virtually everywhere around Longyearbyen. You can even find some mined coal in the city, together with the awesome Svalbard reindeer.

Svalbard reindeers are not afraid of humans, as they have lived here for thousands of years without natural predators

We also managed to do some small bird-watching strolls along the swamps and the coast lines. There were plenty of barnacle geese, snow buntings, artic terns, different types of seagulls, divers, etc.

Our guide prepared a small barbecue for lunch, which warmed us up quite nicely. Today it was ironically the first day we actually “saw the sun”, as it briefly pierced through the clouds.

The weather is very constant, with a cool air and frequent changes in wind and rain conditions.

A small lighthouse at the entrance of the Adventenfjord

In the evening, we managed to visit the Global Seed Vault, which hosts thousands of “backup seeds” from all over the world. A sort of disaster recovery plan for human agriculture, in case of either natural or artificial disasters.

The entrance to the vault. No one can go inside, unless they are delivering/recovering seed samples.

All in all it’s been a pleasant preparation for the more “wild” tours that will start from tomorrow. We even got to familiarise ourselves with the great husky dogs that are very common around here:

This one really wanted to jump on you and let you hold her!

It is now almost midnight, and time to get some rest before tomorrow’s hike. Although we are tired, we found some awesome sights as the Sun managed to break through the cloud just before 11 PM. It was not possible to resiste the urge to stay outside and take a few pictures.

This land is incredibly fascinating when the Sun is out

That’s a wrap for today, I hope it’s been a good read for you! If you have any comments let me know down below.

Cheers everyone, I’ll try to get some sleep now.