Highlights and main attractions of Nordaustlandet

Nordaustlandet is the second largest island in the Svalbard archipelago, the name translates to North East Land. As suggested by the name, the island lies north east of Spitsbergen, separated by the Hinlopen Strait. Completely uninhabited, the island is largely made up of sizable icecaps and tundra, and lies entirely within the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve. 

Apart from wildlife, the main attractions of Nordaustlandet are the icecaps, Austfonna and Vestfonna – in the east and northwest respectively. Austfonna is the most visited, and the seventh largest in the world. With a thickness of up to 560 metres, you can take a zodiac ride along the face of the icecap, an enormous glacial face that stretches for miles. The glacial meltwater waterfalls are stunning to behold, thundering over sharp edges into the sea below, creating rivers through the ice on the way. The sheer scale of the icebergs which calve from the glacier are mesmerising in themselves. 

If you are lucky enough to see the ice calving the sound of the cracking and roaring ice is just as wonderful as the view! 

Where is Nordauslandet?

Location and activities

Most Svalbard expeditions of 10 days or longer visit some part of Nordaustlandet. A particular point of interest is Kinnvika, a Swedish-Finnish research station dating back to 1957. Completely deserted now, there are a total of 10 wooden buildings which were previously used for scientific research. The main building is big enough to house 15 people, with electricity previously supplied by generators. The project was abandoned when funding ran out in 1959, and the buildings now have a slightly eerie feeling to them. Surrounded by a barren landscape with only a few small Arctic flowers growing at the base of the huts, Kinnvika makes for a dramatic photograph.

Another historical point of interest is Kross Island, with one of the few remaining Pomor crosses left in Svalbard standing at the top of the hill. The Pomors were hunters who came across from Arctic Russia to hunt on the island, and frequently built huts and little remote communities while they hunted. These were always temporary, as the hunters returned home after a good hunting season. The few crosses that remain were originally constructed for religious purposes and to make navigation easier, with their locations being prominent hilltops. There are very few still remaining these days, most destroyed by the harsh climate or used for firewood by stranded sailors. Kross Island is also a fantastic place to spot Arctic terns and their chicks. 

Let’s not forget about the walrus that hang out on the beach of Torellneset, usually in huge numbers. These curious creatures will often take to the water when they see Zodiacs approaching, and will sit in the water watching curiously as you walk along.

An area of interest for a huge number of reasons; culture, research, and wildlife too.

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