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Extreme Wilderness

Isfjord radio, Svalbard & Jan Mayen

Worth a detour
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VJ Singh
We arrive by RIB boat from Longyearbyen, dressed in survival suits, across a choppy Arctic Sea, with puffins and seals for company.
Isfjord Radio on Cape Linné, is an abandoned strategic communications station, with a decidedly interesting past, now converted into a stylish expedition lodge.
Nothing could have prepared me for the extreme sense of isolation and wilderness.
Imagine sitting all alone at latitude 79 degrees north and watching polar bears prowling outside the kitchen window. Two days ago, that is exactly what the staff at Isfjord Radio did. After all, Svalbard’s travel slogan reads: “3000 polar bears, 2500 humans”.
Hiking into the middle of nowhere, or along the coast looking for 1500-kilo walruses, is done with licensed guides, a couple of mandatory rifles for protection and huskies for company. It is a beautiful, stark landscape, filled with mystery and a sense of the unknown.
Which direction should we head? Anywhere you want to go, comes the reply.