Magdalenfjorden and 80th parallel North: here you are the polar bear

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Before start this travel, crossing the geographical limit of the 80th parallel North was one of the objective of my trip.
At Magdalenfjorden you can swim in the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean. That’s why I was looking forward to this day of expedition on the Hurtigruten. After rhe excursion to Barentsburg and after dinner, all passengers go to their cabins.
I prefer to stay on the bridge, despite the waves making the ship dance more and more and the icy wind blows on my face with arrogance.
I’m traveling to the North Pole and I want to feel the essence of it.

In August the sun is always high above the horizon and I am also here to see the polar bear.
Every moment could be the good one and I don’t want to run the risk of losing it because I’m sleeping in the cabin.
I’m on vacation, I should be on vacation… but I’m a traveler and I’m traveling on an expedition to the North Pole.
There will be time in the future to sleep.
That’s how I travel.

I get in the cabin only after 03.00 but I always stay in half sleep. I’m ready to splash up the stairs in case the microphones alert of a polar bear’s sighting.
I don’t sleep and at 06.00 I’m again in the main hall.
There are other two passengers and I speak with them over a hot coffee, always available.

Those who make a similar journey already have some past experience and it is always nice to discuss and talk about previous travels. It is a stimulus and an inspiration.

Slowly everyone comes out of the cabins to get ready for the new day, starting with a big breakfast.

Then it’s time to confront with the Hurtigruten‘s crew who explain today’s organization.
Today we will go ashore with zodiac boats. Wearing life jackets is quite easy.
I knew that here we could have taken a bath and brought the swimsuit for today. I’m ready.

William Barents was the first to explore Magdalenfjorden in 1596 and I feel a bit like him.
After a restless night, here we are in a calm and sheltered bay.



After wearing the life jacket go up in the zodiac and in a moment you get to the ground. The guides are armed because the arrival of a polar bear cannot be excluded.




We must follow the group and not walk on the tundra. The ecosystem is fragile and sensitive.

This bay was used by the Basque, Norwegian, English and German whalers to immediately boil the fat of hunted whales. Four large ovens are still visible. In addition, 130 sailors are buried here.




Overcoming the rocky hill you come to a beautiful inlet. The glacier and some icebergs in the sea make it all spectacular. An arctic fox moves curiously and silence reigns supreme.






My head is still focused on what awaits me when come back.

Before getting back on the boat it is time to swim.
Someone only wets their feet, few enter the water for a few meters.
I’ve been waiting for a long time and I’m mentally prepared.
I go into the water with my camera and dive into the icy water. The thermometer marks 4 degrees.
But they are in the Arctic Ocean and it’s an indispensable opportunity.
The body gets used to it quickly and I can even swim a little.
The water is very sweet and turbid, the rocky bottom is almost invisible.

I go out and wipe myself a little before returning to the ship. Hot shower and then lunch.

We continue navigating to the north.

In the afternoon it is time to go down with the zodiac to walk on the Smeerenburg glacier.




The cold and the silence make the landscape even more spectacular






Before returning to the ship, we climb the zodiac and run towards the glacier, among the icebergs that float everywhere. It is a great emotion to enjoy that show. A seal peeps out a few feet away from me before returning to the depths. The glacier moves and some large pieces fall off falling into the sea.
These moments must be lived.


The ship continues the route to the north.

We are all on the bridge when the siren warns the passage of the 80th parallel North.
Collective toast and smiles. An objective has been achieved.

Shortly after we are in the vicinity of the Moffen Island. Here seals and walruses live but you can’t get closer than 300 meters from the beach. After all the time necessary to see and photograph as much as possible, the ship begins the return route. We have reached the northernmost point of this expedition.

The following hours will pass drawing the sums of this journey. In almost all there is a bit of disappointment for not having seen polar bears. We was almost certain that the period would not have favored the vision of whales, but it is undeniable that everyone expected polar bears.
Even seeing seals and walruses at over 300 meters has not helped make this trip unforgettable.

But the adventure is not over yet.

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