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Advice for trekking on Svalbard

Trekking and camping in the Arctic

Following my short experience of trekking and camping on Svalbard, I want to give some advice to everyone who wants to travel to this area.

A good travel agency should provide you with a list of items you need to bring with you. Some information about this can be found on the page about the Trekking equipment on Svalbard anyway.

Here, some advice for living at the camps and about the activities.


I was not very trained but I have always been a good walker. I have gone on dozens of excursions in my life, both to the mountains and into caves. So, long walks were not a problem for me.

Obviously it was hard work. At the end of the stay at the second camp, my feet were hurting but this was most probably due to the poor quality of the trekking shoes I was wearing.

If you are thinking of Svalbard as your first trekking experience, think twice about it. You walk for at least 7 hours per day and for three or four days on a go. You walk in the mountains without paths. You walk on snow and ice and you cross rivers and streams, you move on steep slopes of broken stones.


Do not use rigid suitcases for trekking on Svalbard. Use backpacks or sport bags: they are more practical, usable, resisant and can be moved around easily. More info on why you should not use a rigid bag can be found on the page thoughts about my travel to Svalbard.

Be adaptable

Adaptability is a necessary quality in the Arctic. When you go to the mountain you need to be adaptable to all sorts of circumstances.

It is not nature that has to adapt to our needs but the exact reverse. Human beeings have to adapt themselves to nature and find the right balance to live with it.

During the excursions you walk in groups. You are never alone. The chance of encountering a bear is always there. You must listen to the guides, who are really prepared. You can not move alone as if you were in an ordinary place.

A trip to Svalbard will test your adaptability.

Be ready for camp life

I am experienced in camp life (scouting, military service, speleology (cave exploration) and my trip to Iceland) so, sleeping in a sleeping bag under a tent was not a problem. It is even good for my back!

You must adapt to the scarcity of hygienic facilities, get used to wash less than usual and live outside almost all day long.

But there is more. On a camp, nobody stays or can stay without doing something. You help each other and take part in the camp life. Everyone has a duty. The camp is similar to a small democratic society: to keep everything going everyone must do his part.

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