Longyearbyen: Land of ice, bears, and seeds

Longyearbyen sign

After three days of travel, I have finally arrived at Longyearbyen where I will overnight. They call it the land of the midnight sun; it’s blazingly bright at 0100, I know I will definitely be sleeping on the plane at the end of the trip. 

Longyearbyen is a unique city, to say the least. The city is built on stilts to keep the buildings above the permafrost layers and it's so far north, it's home to the world’s northernmost commercial airport, ATM, post office, museum and university. 

When your other car is a dog sled.

When your other car is a dog sled.


With the last of the coalmines being shut down, the Island is now focused on arctic research, and tourism. One of the most fascinating parts of Longyearbyen is the Global Seed Vault (aka Doomsday Vault). The vault serves as a backup storage facility of seed samples from the world’s crop collections for use in case of an apocalyptic event or a global catastrophe.

Research planes outfitted with ground penetrating radar and other scientific instruments. They are conducting research to measure the depth of the icefields and polar ice movements. 

Research planes outfitted with ground penetrating radar and other scientific instruments. They are conducting research to measure the depth of the icefields and polar ice movements. 


It has been great reconnecting with Jim, Marc and folks from my first trip to Antarctica (Heather and Larissa). This will be my second trip into the area, as well as Larissa’s, who joined me two years ago aboard the M/S Orgino. Also joining me is Joni, who first joined me in Tanzania several years ago. It’s going to seem like old home week on the boat, loads of fun.

Bring on those bears!