13:50 , April 17, 2013
Posted in: Blog

Svalbard Winter 2013

As one of the most experienced suppliers of photo trips to Svalbard it seemed natural that WildPhoto Travel was the preferred partner when Nikon Norway and Interfoto went on teambuilding trip to the islands. The fact that I am a Nikon ambassador might also have played a small part, but still we pushed ourselves to deliver a top of the line trip.

15 excited photo enthusiasts arrived in Longyearbyen a Friday in early April, for a long weekend in the kingdom of the Polar Bear. The temperature was a comfortable minus 8 and it was pretty nice weather. The first day was spent preparing the trip. In the afternoon we held a short seminar where the representative of the Governor of Svalbard stopped by to talk about their work and about the archipelago in general. This was followed by a presentation by myself with some photography tips, followed by information about the trip ahead. It was a great atmosphere around the dinner table and there was no doubt that the excitement was palpable.

At 4 o´clock the next morning, I went out for a walk around Longyearbyen to see what wildlife was around. I had previously tried to get good photos of foxes in winter, without success. This morning, however, it all came together and I had a few hours with two magnificent animals.


Arctic fox. Copyright © Roy Mangersnes


Arctic fox. Copyright © Roy Mangersnes


After breakfast we gathered with guides and went through the plan for the next few days. After a few hours of preparation, we set off into Adventdalen.

The plan was to use a route that would be a little different than the regular tourist trips on Spitsbergen, and that would also provide great photo opportunities along the way. Expedition lunch was served under the glacier in the Mohn bay. Everything was carefully documented by 16 Nikon cameras, and a couple of iPhones. According to the tracks the Polar Bear had been in the area a few days earlier, but it was no longer to be seen.


Into the wild. Copyright © Roy Mangersnes


After lunch, we continued our tour over the glaciers to the west and down the Von Post glacier. The sun was low over the mountains when we slid down the Tempel Fjord. We set off towards the sailing ship Noorderlicht, lying frozen in the ice a bit further out in the fjord. A wonderful meal was served on the ship. Some images were taken after dinner, before everyone fell into bed.


Arctic sunset. Copyright © Roy Mangersnes


Already half past four the next morning we set off again, heading out into the cold, clear air. As the first rays of sun licked the nearby peaks we came arrived at Tuna glacier. The binoculars scanned the areas as we have on numerous occasions seen Polar Bears in this place. Unfortunately there were no Polar Bears to be seen and the great light was used to document the beautiful Arctic landscapes. After a few hours in minus 19 degrees, it was time for a late breakfast and a hot cup of coffee, so we headed to the boat again. On the way out we stopped at a couple of newborn Ringed Seal pups that lay just off the snowmobile track. A highlight for many!

Ringed seal. Copyright © Roy Mangersnes

After a much needed breakfast we went out again, in glorious sunshine and clear nice winter air. After a quick stay at Fredheim we went up the hill to enjoy the view across the Sassen Fjord and into the Tempel Fjord. Some Svalbard Reindeer were documented on the way up.


Svalbard reindeer. Copyright © Roy Mangersnes


Northern Fulmars had already arrived in the mountains below us and on the nearby edge a single Svalbard ptarmigan was monitoring its territory. When everyone was happy, we went back down and followed west along the Sassen Fjord. Our goal was the splendid Flower Valley. The area is very dramatic and seldom used by tourists, as it is very difficult to drive the snowmobile up and over the pass. Our guests had, however, shown excellent handling of the snowmobiles and we had no doubt going in. Not far in we came across fresh bear tracks on the trail. Just a couple of hours earlier, a Polar Bear walking up and down the mountainside and enjoyed sliding in the snow. Everyone was on edge, but unfortunately the Bear wasn’t happy to show himself this time around.


Glacier ice in the Mohn bay. Copyright © Roy Mangersnes


Well up to the pass, we went even further up onto a mountain and really enjoy the view. From almost 1000 meters above sea level, we had visibility in all directions. Expedition lunch was served with camera ready to shoot.


16 happy photo enthusiasts. Copyright © Roy Mangersnes


After lunch and some more photography, we went down towards Adventdalen again and headed towards Longyearbyen. Before arriving in town we went up near Hiortfjellet to get some pictures of the world’s northernmost settlement, as seen from the opposite side of the bay.

It was a tired but happy bunch that arrived in Longyearbyen this afternoon. After changed clothes and a debriefing we gathered for a good dinner. It was an utterly exhausted group of people sitting around the table, but the atmosphere was still impeccable.


Arctic eyes. Copyright © Roy Mangersnes


You’d think that all was totally exhausted after 240 kilometres on a snowmobile and little sleep, but three men were up and around for and early session of photography on Monday morning. We went out again before half past four. We found “my Fox” from before, but now it appeared far less cooperative and disappeared into the mountains. We changed the plan and went into Adventdalen to work with the Reindeer at first light.

A really big thanks to Nikon Norway and Interfoto, for trusting in WildPhoto Travel when going to Svalbard!

Written by: Roy Mangersnes

This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål

  1. Inka Lipasti says:

    Hi Roy,
    I am enthusiastic about our pictures! Currently, I am writing on my master thesis (MSc. thesis) about “Levels and temporal trends of brominated flame retardants in arctic foxes from Svalbard” and would love to use one of your pictures the one where the fox is playing and is on towards you with a huge face :)). And of course I would then admit you to my reference list as Mangersnes, R. 2013: http://www.naturfokus.com/2013/04/17/svalbard-winter-2013/ 25.1.2014.
    It might be that my work will be published aomewhere at my University webpage (University of Eastern Finland)
    Is this ok? And could I get your permission to this?

    Best Regards,

    Inka Lipasti, kanifani89@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>