Blue fox and blue whales at sunset
A few days into the expedition we have reached the eastern part of Svalbard. On the way here we saw something I never dared to dream of - blue whales at sunset. To meet the largest animal that ever existed on earth is a special experience. Guests, guides and the crew of M/S Stockholm are all out on deck late this evening, or is it early in the morning?
The vegetation around the island of Nordaustlandet is sparse, which is not surprising given that 80 percent of the island is made of ice. We try to make a landing at this abandoned site, but each time the fog rolls in. We don't stand a chance. It's almost as if the island doesn't want us to set foot here. Also, the wind is starting to pick up so we need a sheltered spot.
We look at the map and spot Firkantsbukta, which has both an intriguing name and a good location. As we enter the narrow bay, we realise that it is home to thousands of birds. What a gem of a bay! Inside the bay there are also huge icebergs.
Maja, the mate, remains calm and we glide elegantly into the bay. We anchor not far from a sandy beach where a lot of driftwood and timber has been washed ashore. What begins as a walk turns into a climb over large boulders. With the weather on our side, we want to get to the top. We have to concentrate, as the stones get bigger and our feet have to be placed carefully. Our eyes are fixed on the ground, which leads to surprise when a fox suddenly emerges from the rocks right in front of us.
And not just any fox, but actually a blue fox, which is rarer than the white version here in Svalbard. Feeling lucky, we fill our SD cards with far too many pictures and watch him disappear into the horizon. This was just the beginning. It turned out that he would follow us. I wonder if he has encountered humans before? He arches his back, yawns, and does a formidable job of posing on the rock directly in front of us, with the glacier in the background. His dark fur, almost black, is a great contrast to the rocky terrain he and we are walking on.
We say goodbye and continue towards the top. From here we can look down into the next bay.
The light on the horizon is now yellow and on board the M/S Stockholm they are already waiting for us. We are served a delicious meal and the conversation is at high speed. The day has just flown by!
Please note: We always follow strict wildlife guidelines to ensure that we do not cause any disturbance.
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.