Navigating to Longyearbyen: In the Territory of the Polar Bear
Longyearbyen Road offers a picturesque drive, nestled in a valley along the serene shores of Adventfjord in Norway's Svalbard archipelago.
How long is the road to Longyearbyen?
Located in Longyeardalen, it serves as the primary route to the largest settlement and the administrative center of Svalbard. The road stretches 27.7 km (17.21 miles), extending from Bjørndalshytta in the west to the EISCAT Svalbard Radar in the east, situated at an elevation of 548m (1,797ft) above sea level.
Discovering Arctic Landscapes and Ancient Mining Towns
This route boasts abundant wildlife, pristine Arctic landscapes, and remnants of old mining towns. Set against a backdrop of towering mountains and expansive glaciers, drivers must exercise caution due to the region's unpredictable and severe climate.
Longyearbyen: The Northernmost Town and Its Rich History
Though predominantly unpaved, the road is surfaced near Longyearbyen, an Arctic town previously known as Longyear City until 1926. Recognized as the world's northernmost town, it's home to 2,400 residents hailing from nearly 53 countries. The town's inception can be credited to the American, John Munro Longyear. Those interested in exploring by car can find rentals at the airport via Arctic Autorent or in the town center at Svalbard Auto. However, due to limited vehicle availability, early reservations are advised.
Safety on the Road: Polar Bear Encounters in Longyearbyen
Journeying on this road offers a comprehensive glimpse of an area fondly referred to as 'The realm of the polar bear'. Interestingly, one is more likely to encounter a polar wolf or a polar bear than another human. Venturing beyond Longyearbyen's central area without a hunting rifle is discouraged. Given the proximity of polar bears, it's imperative to be armed when stepping outside the settlement. Always be prepared with defensive measures against polar bears before leaving your vehicle.
Pic: Jorge Cornish