Svalbard Reindeers


Although sometimes we believe that we know everything, there are places in the world that can discover us truly extraordinary beings that live in situations of extreme survival, adapted to the toughest conditions on the planet. In our exploration of Svalbard Islands, today we have lived with an animal almost unknown to many, the Norwegian Arctic dwarf reindeer.

If before, we had already been surprisedPeruvian Amazon hoatzin, the Golden Monkeys of Rwanda, the giant tortoises from Mauritius, the Solomon Islands Coconuts Crabs, the extraordinary penguins of the Antarctic, I swim with him whale shark in Mexico wave huge humpback whale in Tonga or those strangers Gerenuk in Kenya, today the discovery is a protected species of Dwarf reindeer from Svalbard Islands that is not found anywhere else on the planet.

A sunrise in the Norwegian Arctic

78º 23'N 16º 50'E Bjonahamna

Although we should have woken up to lend a hand to the crew, we opened our eyes with the sound of anchor hoisting to begin sailing. Paula is more espabilada and even prepared and ready to help the cleaning of the bow. "Others" perish a little more. We leave for Billefjorden, another area of ​​the immense bay that constitutes Isfjorden and all its fjords

Look at this! We are surrounded by multitude of sculptural pieces of pieces of ice detachedI know that in the middle of the night they have "escaped" from some nearby glacier iceberg. Jytte has slept outside the sailboat. It must be beautiful! although only viable for some privileged adapted to the environment since temperatures of -5ºC have been reached

We no longer remembered the color and the different tones of these bits of ecosystem with the different daylight we had enjoyed in Antarctica. It is a privilege that every person should enjoy at some time in life and that Paula is living for the first time.


We have about 4 hours of navigation, bordering kilometer glaciers that flow into fjords of incalculable beauty, so we will have something hot breakfast to adapt "the guests" as the "grandmother cotters" said that always travels with us (DAILY UPDATE: And although we didn't know it at that time, I also did Tom, who was already part of that intense star that shines in the sky for 4 days)

A strange place, the reindeer habitat of Svalbard Islands

78º 25'N 17º 19'E Skansbukta

We continue browsing on a "plate." For those fearful of the conditions that any boat can hold in these waters, it does not move at all! and although the comforts of this type of adventure are limited (toilet issues, space, etc ...) it is a small price that must be paid to be able to explore places that once were only accessible to the great Admusen, Scott or Sckateltton explorers. Travelers who come to these places, especially the usual ones of a company like Polar Lands They are already aware of it.

While some watch, Fernando reflects every movement and incidence in the logbook, Although it seems that it is not mandatory in this type of voyages, it is the sailboat's own "blog" and we are sure that it is a bit of self-realization, important for them. Fernando and David are a discovery for us, and we will talk about them these days

Shortly before noon, a beautiful protected cove is shown before us. Perhaps it is not that dreamed by sun and beach lovers, but in this immensity of icy lands, of extreme survival, it shows a magical beauty with this sun that does not leave us since we landed in Longyearbyen two days ago


We are in the land of former whalers, although the greatest wealth of Svalbard has always resided more in its mining and coal, in addition to recent tourism, obviously. Even so, there were many Norwegians and inhabitants of other countries that worked on these coasts. Today it is governed by a treaty, and although it is governed by Norway, the Svalbard Islands It is an archipelago that hosts a model without red borders and with a policy of protection and absolute sustainability to the point of investigating the death of any bear by a person even if it was in self-defense.

Jytte tells us, our excellent guide, that there are legislation that prohibits mobilizing any rest, whether natural or artificial, before a certain date of the 40s. This means that today we can still see traces of true relics that are tempted at some point by the greatest museums in the world.


The flora, and Arctic landscape in general, may be more monotonous than we might have initially imagined. However here in Skansbukta, the good summer you are doing has created a kind of fluffy moss on which it is pleasant to step on and you can see curious flowers of tiny size that grow facing south and almost microscopically.


In the distance something worries us. A hole in the mountain catches our attention, and even our fears. A hole in the mountain closed for some unknown cause?

What we thought was more a whaling settlement, it turns out that it also had its mining purpose. Must exist tens of kilometers through the mountains of this territory, and that currently remain completely abandoned, although the origin of this loneliness may perhaps be better explained tomorrow at a stop we have planned (if weather conditions permit)

These places, today isolated from the world, abandoned to their fate, surely served as inspiration for many films of great masters of the most esoteric cinema and unleashes our imagination. They say that frozen glaciers for thousands of years keep in their strange bacteria extraordinarily unknown to humans. Who knows what our ancestors could see in these places and that it has never come to light?


Near the coast, on the other side of the beach, there is a small wooden shed, locked with a padlock. It is for exclusive use for those lucky people who decide to spend a night here, although Jytte tells us that it is a kind of private group. Anyway, we sleep well on the boat, the mainland is for others.

What catches our attention are the remains of bones from nearby animals. They are reindeer antlers, but they don't look like the ones we all know, the most typical Scandinavian or even the North American Caribou. Nor are the most acclimatized to the subantarctic areas or Russia, Greenland, Alaska or Canada, but it is about a unique species of dwarf reindeer from the Svalbard Islands, not so simple to see, wild and much more lonely, but that in these landscapes of tundra and taiga we could discover today.


Although Jytte is still inseparable from his rifle, it seems quite obvious that seeing a polar bear at this latitude is still an impossible mission, so the 6 that we have landed are quite scattered "exploring" every surprise of this beach, when already walking to return to move to the sailboat to eat, Ibón calls us in the distance. It seems that he has seen something in the water ...


Indeed, it is a bearded and ocellated seal, a typical species of areas beyond the Arctic Circle, and who looks at us curiously from the icy waters ... until he dips his head.

We get on the inflatable boat and it is when the engine starts when the fruit of its curiosity begins to haunt us, as if it were playing with us, keeping a safe distance. It is a nice looking animal. !! Paula is delighted!

His huge mustache, which we can now observe much more closely, is what gives it its name. In addition, Jytte tells us we should not worry that she gets too close, since her diet consists of clams, squid and fish from the seabed, although never more than 300 meters (hence, she should be looking for this bay).


The 'click' of the cameras sounds in burst the closer we have it. An intense smell leaves the dining room-kitchen, although it is when our friend decides that her curiosity is over, when we finally hear the roar of our own stomachs. !! It's time for a good meal !! See you soon mustache!


In search of reindeer from Svalbard Islands

78º 25'N 17º 19 'Skansbukta

!! Today there has been polar nap!! Why not? There are customs that can never be missed, the nap, and more among a group of Spaniards, is something that should not be missed ... until Jytte puts us in order. !! 17'00 !! To disembark, now towards the other area of ​​the fjord


There is something that is never missing at each exit, and it is the rifle and the bullets of a finger. There are not many possibilities to see a bear in these latitudes, but it is important and almost mandatory to go out with one, although as it happened yesterday and this morning, it still gives some respect.

He procedure in case of finding a polar bear It would be first to get your attention with a sparkler, speakers or screaming. There is nothing worse than a polar bear looking surprised since his reaction can be deadly. Once he saw us, we must wait for his reaction. He may look at you indeferently, he may be aggressive (lack of food can irritate him to the point of considering you an appetizing appetizer - although he needs fat for his food -) or he can start his way towards us. Either of these last two would proceed with a shot in the air. If the thing got ugly the procedure would allow self defense. Just thinking about it is unpleasant!

It will not be the case, so we started a really beautiful trekking through some of the most authentic places on the planet, surrounded by that kind of spongy moss that seems to be taken from the movie "The invasion of the ultrabody", of "Martian" flowers or huge, highly eroded cliffs.


And the walk bears fruit as soon as you start !!!!! What do our eyes see in the distance ?!!! !!Is a dwarf reindeer from Svalbard Islands!! who walks alone, wild, unadulterated, in the distance. Ufs, can we get close to him?

Crossing different areas of trunda, more fluffy moss and streams that David helps us to overcome with skill (always attentive, a true charm of person that we are discovering day by day) allows us to approach. !! Now we see two more !!


We get closer and closer until we are at his side. They are fearful animals that study our movement, quite different from the reindeer we have seen in the documentaries. They are robust and paticortos, of great horns, (and that as we have been able to verify by the remains that we saw this morning, they weigh a lot) and well adapted to the arctic climate of Svalbard, where we can go from 5ºC to -25ºC in the middle of winter. Now we see them in brown with some light fur, but it is normal to see them white in the rest of the coldest times of the year.

It turns out that the reindeer of the Svalbard Islands, besides being a unique species of this archipelago, are somewhat smaller than the known ones (68 cm high) and although other subspecies have been domesticated in other areas of the planet, they are found completely protected and free, in its wildest state.


Here they enjoy the tranquility of the tundra, where they find their food in these pastures, and although they usually like loneliness (unlike other reindeer species) today we can see some as a couple, and without fear of the appearance of the great predator White. They are even excellent swimmers, capable of crossing rivers of large river currents!

!! What a discovery! It is not easy to relate this type of encounter, but it is something really extraordinary for two people of the plain town like us, far from being great explorers or expeditionaries. While, we follow the march, surrounded by incredible cliffs formed by different sedimentary and glaciation stages, where today spectacular geological sculptures and waterfalls are formed


We also see what formerly it was a huge glacier tongue, and that the effect of global warming has completely transformed. We are still not aware of the great problem that the Earth is going through! but in places like this it is impossible to avoid realizing it

Now we skirt the mountains. It is turning out to be one of the best trekking we have done so far. The "ring community" stays in a group that was going for a walk by our side, haha.


It's getting late and we've advanced a lot, now between mountains, so we have to think about turning around. A pity! Why would we keep walking until it was done at night?

!No! This story is not over. Against the backdrop of a huge and beautiful waterfall, we have another encounter. !!Is another nice reindeer from Svalbard! When Norway assumed the sovereignty of these islands in 1925, this species was in terrible danger of extinction because of its hunting. Today, with its protection, it seems that there are already more than 10,000, and that is why we can observe them.

This one, lonely and just a few meters from us. We have surprised him behind a rock! Maybe scared by our presence start running and jumping. His "dance" is really funny, a mixture of the jumps of the Australian kangaroo and the ride of a gentlemanly quadruped.

Definitely every day we have clearer that we are passionate about nature and wildlife tourism. This little encounter has been the !! great discovery !! of adventure, at least for now. The day has been complete, so it's time to return to the ship. A hot dinner and our little logbook, which this time we will have to publish on our return when we do not have coverage, awaits us. The dwarf reindeer of the Svalbard Islands are already part of our small bottle of memories ... the one that does not stop growing with each crossing.

Paula and Isaac, from Svalbard (Norwegian Arctic)