Highlights and main attractions of Alkefjellet

Roughly translated as ‘Bird Mountain’, Alkefjellet is one of the most spectacular bird cliffs in Svalbard. Home to approximately 60,000 Brunnich’s guillemots that nest right on the towering cliff face, Alkefjellet is a magnificent sight. The cliff face itself is made up of basaltic pillars which rise vertically from the waters of the Hinlopen Strait, between Spitsbergen and Nordauslandet, in places over 100 metres high. These sheer rock faces are home to thousands of nesting birds, often circled by Glaucous gulls looking for a meal, and Arctic foxes hunting nearby. 

Easily accessible from the sea, the steep walls are safe to navigate via Zodiac, and it’s easy to spend several hours just meandering along the cliffs watching the birds. The water adjacent to the cliffs is deep enough that ships can get very close to the cliff face too which is great for those wishing to stay on board.

Alkefjellet has been the subject of many wildlife documentaries, films and photo shoots, and is a popular stop on Svalbard itineraries. 

Where is Alkefjellet?

Location and activities

If you’ve ever seen birds flying in large groups, you’ll know that most fly in a coordinated pattern. The birds of Alkefjellet fly in what can only be described as a haphazardly chaotic manner. Having said this, they never bump into one another, despite the sheer numbers which circle the cliffs. From a zodiac looking up, all you can see is a jumbled mass of birds silhouetted against the sky, and it’s easy to believe that scientists have studied these birds in an attempt to figure out how they never crash into one another. 

With chicks on the cliffs in the summer months, the Glaucous gulls are everywhere, and are often seen diving low to disturb the parents at their nests, in the hope that a chick falls into the water in the commotion. An excellent opportunity for them to secure a good meal, they are relentless in their pursuit of chicks, and should one fall, it becomes dinner within seconds. 

The Arctic foxes who live around here are also opportunists, who stalk the foot of the cliff on the hunt for birds which would make an easy meal. The fact they are engrossed in their hunting, usually means that they are easy to photograph and observe from the zodiacs.

An incredible opportunity to be overwhelmed by birds, and see the endearing Arctic foxes too.

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