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Magdalenefjord and Raudfjorden

14th July: visit to the historic centre of Magdalenefjord and the arrival at the first base camp

We visited Magdalenefjord and saw the remains of past whale hunting expeditions. We once again reached the 80th parallel and finally got to the first base camp: the Raudfjord camp.


We arrived on the Magdalenefjord in the morning. This place is historically very significant and is therefore protected by rangers.

Centuries ago, whale hunting operations were at their height, since whale fat was used for lighting. The remains of ovens can be made out with great difficulty. On the right, protected by a fence, there is a type of cemetery where 200 bodies are buried under stone mounds.

Here we encountered the Arctic tern for the first time. It attacked us to defend its eggs, which were nested nearby. We moved away with the guide into a small inlet.

The weather was good. The sky was blue and it was not too cold. From the coastline we could see a seal which cautiously kept its distance.

We got onboard a dinghy to reach the boat for lunch. From the cruiser we got close to some glaciers, high layers of ice facing the sea.

A drank a new toast to celebrate the passing, for the second time, of the 80th parallel.


At the end of the afternoon we once again used a dinghy to reach the Raudfjorden where our first base camp was located.

A group of people was waiting for the boat onshore. We had already seen them from the boat, wearing heavy clothes against the cold, desperate to get onboard for some warmth.

Once the shore was reached, we unloaded our luggage and helped load other people’s bags. I met Luna, a type of Husky dog belonging to one of our guides. This well-tempered dog was perfectly at home in the Arctic.

Before leaving our bags in the tent, the guides took us through the camp so that we could see where the toilets were, which water we could drink and the tent we were going to use as a kitchen.

The camp was surrounded by snow. Snow mountains, glaciers, ice covered lakes, snow-covered grounds. Everything was white.

We all came together under the big tent for dinner. A notice showing the bear watching shifts was hanging on the wall. I was scheduled to watch out for bears the following two nights. The day was over and we finally enjoyed our first night at the base camp, in the northern region of Spitzbergen.

I had a nightmare that night about a bear coming to my tent. I asked myself where the bear watchers had gone… Svalbard was starting to get to me.

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