Kvitøya (White Island)
PolarQuest’s guides are blogging from M/S Quest. Below you can read an excerpt from the expedition on board M/S Quest, the 15th – 25th August 2015.
19th August 2015
Kvitøya – Storøya
Wake-up call at 5, departure at 6 on Kvitøya, the furthest east island of the Svalbard archipelago. This is the island where Andrée’s airballoon expedition finally persished after their attemt to reach the North Pole by airballoon in 1897. Andrée, Fraenkel and Strindberg managed to reach Kvitøya after they crashlanded on the northern pack ice, but did not survive through the winter on this barren island and were discovered ….. 33 years later. Not many people reach this special place, even nowadays one is fortunate to get here. We had a look at the memorial placque and walked carefully to the hauled-out walrusses on the beach further away. There was a large group of walrusses on land, many more in smaller groups at sea – obviously, walrusses are doing very well in Svalbard and that is very good news indeed.
We went back to Storøya for a Zodiac cruise. From the Quest several polar bears had been spotted already! One healthy looking male wandered along the beach, feeling very relaxed and looking at us with equal delight we imagined. Many, many walrusses in the water and other groups were resting at the rocks and on the beach. We saw females with older sub-adults, curiously observering us. Soon the polar bear by the shore was forgotten and all of us are now for sure converted walrus fans – what a joyful animal it is!
Afterwards, we headed north, looking for pack ice. Another adventure began!
Since 1999, we have taken travellers on once-in-a-lifetime trips to Svalbard. From May to September our three small expedition ships, carrying only 12 and 53 passengers, explore this magnificent Arctic archipelago. Unpredictability and flexibility are the main keywords when you travel with PolarQuest as the exact route depends on weather, ice conditions and wildlife encounters. Sometimes you might be woken up in the middle of the night if a polar bear has been spotted on the ice.