Discovering the Land of the Polar Bears: Spitsbergen
Located in the Arctic Ocean, north of Norway, lies the archipelago of Svalbard. The largest island of the group is called Spitsbergen, which is known for its vast glaciated landscapes, studded with snow-covered mountains, massive glaciers, and frozen tundras. Although Svalbard is one of the most remote and inhospitable regions in the world, it’s a unique destination that attracts adventurers and explorers from all over the globe. In this article, we will explore a question that comes to the mind of those planning to visit Spitsbergen: How long is it dark in Svalbard?
The Polar Night
In Svalbard, the polar night is the time of the year when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon. The duration of the polar night varies throughout the archipelago, but it is longest in Spitsbergen. The polar night in Spitsbergen starts around mid-November and lasts until late January. During this time, the island is plunged into a never-ending night, and the only natural light comes from the stars and the Northern Lights.
The Return of the Sun
After the polar night, the sun gradually rises above the horizon, and Svalbard enters the polar day (also called the midnight sun). The return of the sun is a momentous event that is celebrated by the locals. The first sight of the sun’s golden rays peeking over the horizon marks the end of the long dark winter and the beginning of a new cycle of light and life.
Experience the Polar Night in Spitsbergen
The polar night is an extraordinary natural event that is worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime. If you are planning to visit Spitsbergen during this time, you need to be prepared for extreme weather, complete darkness, and limited activity options. However, you will also have the opportunity to witness breathtaking displays of Northern Lights, explore the frozen wilderness on a snowmobile or dog sled, and mingle with the locals at the traditional Christmas markets.
- Dress warm: With temperatures dropping to -30°C/-22°F, you need to wear several layers of warm clothes, insulated boots, and gloves to keep yourself comfortable.
- Bring a headlamp: Since there’s no natural light during the polar night, you’ll need a headlamp to move around safely.
- Book in advance: Accommodation and activities are limited during the polar night, so make sure to book everything in advance.
- Respect the wilderness: Spitsbergen is a fragile and pristine environment, so make sure to follow the Leave No Trace principles and respect the rules and regulations of the protected areas.
Spitsbergen is an enchanting place that offers a unique opportunity to witness the polar night, one of the most awe-inspiring natural events on Earth. The darkness of the polar night is a reminder of the harsh and unforgiving nature of the Arctic, but it’s also a source of wonder and magic. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a curious traveler, Spitsbergen will leave an indelible mark on your soul.