A polar bear encounter on the island Karl XII
Waking up, we looked outside the window, and got blinded by a shiny sparkling ocean, reflecting the sun. Finally, calm winds and blue skies! M/S Sjøveien felt tiny, only the vast sea north of Nordaustlandet surrounding her, but with on exception: the small rugged island, Karl XII øya, waiting to be explored.
Karl XII island is one of the smallest and most northern in Svalbard, you could easily walk from one side to another in a minute or so. And perhaps also therefore it was extra surprising when we discovered our first polar bear around the corner. Even the captain came to have a look for himself. The polar bear, most likely an older male, was resting with its nose against the warmth of the sun.
Our journey continued and all of the sudden Storøya appeared in the horizon, with its huge icecap. The sea was still like oil when we took to our boats again in the evening to explore out most eastern destination. Along the coast some eider ducks and northern fulmars floating around. A group lazy walrus lifted their heads to look who we were, before going back to sleep. A few them swam passed us in the distance and we could hear them breathing out when coming up to the surface. When we turned off our engines, a great wonderful silence. A successful day in the north and excitement when we continued our journey into the polar night, with the eternal sun in front of us.
Thérèse HorntrichGuide and Expedition Leader
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 50 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.