At 7.30am, while most of us are still in the shower or just getting up, we hear the ship wide PA system announcing a polar bear sighting. We rush out on deck in various states of undress. Some manage to take a blurry photograph of a beige spot that appears to be moving on the mountainside a long way off. As we wake up, it comes more into focus! Since we're up we may as well have an early breakfast? But breakfast is interrupted and this time it's a polar bear with a cub on the mountainside. Being a little better prepared we all manage to see well this time. Richard is happy since he foolishly promised to refund if we didn't see any polar bears!
This morning we land at Kapp Lee on the island of Edgeøya. We're warned that it might be a little muddy underfoot so the expedition team lay out some marker flags. We're told to follow the flags. Sadly, some don't. Some of the hikers get stuck, followed by an expedition team member. Back at the beach we hear that an expedition team member, Manuel, has spotted another polar bear, so guests rush off (forgetting where the flags are). Two guests (not ours of course!) get stuck. Our Barbara goes to help. Not a good idea Barbara! She gets stuck. Out Tom goes to help Barbara. Not a good idea Tom. He gets stuck. Richard and Dawn appear over the ridge to find their group either stuck or laughing. In fact, even the folk who were stuck were laughing! Sometime later, we manage to extract guests and their wellington boots and their socks, and carry on as though nothing had happened.
We all saw some Svalbard Reindeer here, an indigenous species considerably shorter than the "regular" reindeer we're used to seeing in photos and on TV wildlife documentaries. These specimens were also losing the velvet from their antlers. We were able to get reasonably close and they were not bothered by us in the least.
Another wonderful day in Svalbard: fantastic scenery, polar bears, reindeer and mud.
Photo copyright: Dominic Barrington.