We stepped onto land for our first expedition together in the Arctic North of Svalbard, Norway. Yesterday, we met the group and explored Lonyearbyen, the world’s northernmost settlement with a population of approximately 1000 people. We have 128 guests aboard National Geographic Endurance, a true beauty designed to tackle the most difficult polar conditions.

Our first expedition after embarkation was Horsund, the southernmost fjord of Spitsbergen and one of the most spectacular fjords in this polar archipelago. An old trapper’s hut stands close to the beach. It was built in 1907 or 1908, and a female trapper, a hunter of arctic foxes and polar bears, lived an unconventional, brave, and solitary life in the 1920s. Purple saxifrage covered the ground. It was a true delight to observe, as they only stay in bloom for ten to fourteen days of the year. We split into groups according to desired activity level for short hikes, medium hikes, and photo hikes. We headed out to explore this rugged and beautiful landscape.

It was a beautiful introduction to what will be a wild journey together. The joy of an expedition rests in being open to the surprises that await. It’s been a whirlwind of travel, and we are looking forward to our second day of expedition tomorrow.

Written by: Giulia Ciampini