On Friday morning we were up early and had a lovely breakfast made by Kjersti, then we headed off to be picked up for our ‘Dog Sledging’ trip that Kjersti had planned for us.
The company was called ‘Svalbard Husky’ and we were met at a hotel only 5 minutes walk away by Thomas one of the guides.
It took about 20 minutes to change into big thick warm snow suits & boots that are provided for you as part of the trip, you can also borrow warm hats & gloves if haven’t got them. I must admit they didn’t smell very nice as you wear them around the dogs but soon got used to it. We then headed off to the location to start the ride.
On arrival you are invited to mingle with the dogs, there were about 50 dogs each with their own kennel with their names on, females on one side & males on the other. They are so loving and just lapped up the attention from us. Very friendly and loved cuddles – this was great to interact with them.
Thomas & Irene were our guides that day, very helpful and gave lots of information and made you feel welcome & relaxed. After mingling the dogs we were shown how to harness them onto the sledge, you have 6 dogs per sledge with the most experienced at the front as lead dogs – we were team 4 & had Freya & Luna as our lead dogs. Once the lead dogs are harnessed one of you has to stay with them whilst the other person gets the rest of the dogs so they don’t run off before you are ready. The noise they make as they are so excited to be going out for a run. Once all dogs are harnessed it’s time to go & what a feeling – it is amazing. I sat in the sledge first & Adam steered, the speed was a lot faster than I imagined and those dogs love to run so have to be ready with the break as only way to stop them…. I managed to get a bit of video as we set off but was too cold with no gloves on but enjoy…
We were out for approx 2 hours and half way through you change over so I got to steer the sledge whilst Adam sat in it. This was brilliant and a lot warmer than sitting in the sledge as feels really cold with the speed you go and the wind! If you have to stop which we did a couple of times so all the teams could keep up it is hard to keep the sledge still as the dogs just want to go so have have both feet firmly on the break. It is quite easy to get used to (even I managed it – ha ha!).
When we got back to the yard we unharnessed the dogs in the reverse order so the lead dog is that last one to be put away and again 1 of us had to stay at the front whilst the others go back to their kennels. Once this was done we got to feed all the dogs and thank them for a great ride. We were hot & sweaty in those suits but glad of the warmth as it was -7 that day. Myself & Adam had a snow flight which Thomas thought was hilarious but we aren’t used to snow so made the most of it.
I definitely recommend this for anyone going to Longyearbyen!
Afterwards we headed back to change then Thomas dropped us off back at Kjersti’s house were we had lunch & relaxed for the afternoon.
On Saturday we went Snow Mobiling – this was so much fun, a bit scary at first but soon get the hang of it. I was a passengers as had a little drive but didn’t feel confident enough so I sat at the back of Tommy (Kjersti’s husband) as he was experienced. Adam & Kjersti had their own & Adam loved it as he loves to drive anything, cars trucks, bikes etc.
First we had to go to the hire shop so me & Adam could get our snow suits and boots, these are needed as can get really cold with speeds of up to 100km an hour. You also have to wear a balaclava which covers your face, a warm scarf & hat and goggles then the helmet on top for protection. I felt like Michelin man with all that gear on but it is needed! The only part of my body not covered was my nose!
We were shown how to drive the snow mobiles then we were ready for the off. We were going to cross the mountains and visit ‘ Barentsburg’ which is the Russian settlement and still a mining town, it was very barren as people only live there to work there. There are no shops so they have to travel to Longyearbyen to buy groceries. The journey over the mountains was spectacular and I felt I was in a dream as so beautiful. We had regular stops to take photos as the journey was approx 1.5 hours each way.
Here are some photos we took during the journey….
The views were breathtaking, in the middle of nowhere with snow & mountains around, it was so beautiful – I was lucky enough to see the views as I wasn’t driving, I didn’t feel the cold at all with my big warm suit on and enjoyed the ride and the views.
We had taken flask & biscuits with us so could have a warm drink on route – this was very much needed. We stopped by the water’s edge – Tommy had his rifle & gun ready just in case we saw a Polar Bear – unfortunately we didn’t!
We then headed into Barentsburg which was a further 20 mins drive, a lot of people visit a hotel here to have a rest & a drink & something to eat so we stayed for approx 45 mins before making our way back to Longyearbyen.
Adam took some photos, it looks deserted but has great views…
We headed back which took approx 1.5hours and then had a mad rush to get ready as had a table booked for dinner at 8pm.
We dinned at ‘Huset’ which is the best restaurant and is very popular, very expensive but a great meal. It approx 10 Krone to the £1 so you can see the prices – here is a copy of the menu:-
We had Svalbard Raindeer which was delicious amongst one of the 5 courses. The meal was really nice and very filling. We then headed to the Karlsberger Pub which is supposed to be the no.6 best pub in the world. We met Robert the owner of Svalbard Husky so expressed our feelings at what a wonderful trip it was.
The next day Sunday which was our last day we were supposed to be heading off to the East side where you can usually see Polar Bears but the weather was too bad so as were inexperienced we were advised not to go – I was gutted but can’t help the weather. Adam went off on a short trip on the snow mobiles with Tommy so me & Kjersti spent some quality time together and went shopping as I wanted souvenirs.
Here are some pictures taken by Adam of Longyearbyen from the mountains, I’m glad Adam didn’t show me these before the flight – have you seen the runway!!
We had a lovely afternoon then went out for dinner again in the evening with the whole family as our last night.
So overall we had a fantastic time in Longyearbyen and will definitely go back as I need to see a real life Polar Bear & The Northern Lights.
There are several cruises that visit Svalbard in the summer where you can see Polar Bears so if you fancy this kind of holiday – call me on 0800 408 6108 for more information.