Home to the islands of Barentsoya and Edgeoya
Information about Svalbard- SE
The southeastern part of the Svalbard archipelago is "warmed" by the gulf stream. Although this doesn't make much difference to the air temperature, it does mean that the area is free of sea ice for much of the season. This region is made up of the south-east coast of Spitsbergen and the islands of Barentsøya ("Barents Island") and Edgeøya ("Edge Island").
A key highlight of this part of the Spitsbergen coast is the astonishing Negribreen Glacier. This has the longest glacial front of any other on Svalbard with over 10 miles (16km) of ice meeting the sea. It's a stunning sight from the water.
Barentsøya and Edgeøya form part of the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve. Popular with polar bears, innumerable bird species, and grazing reindeer, these islands provide some of the wildlife highlights of your visit to Svalbard. Although now uninhabited, the islands have some fascinating sites of human history, including the remains of huts used by Norwegian polar bear hunters, and sites used by some of the ancient peoples who made visits here.
The SW side of Edgeøya has some very good tundra with numerous pools and lakes that attracts various birds.
Interesting facts about Svalbard- SE
Freemansundet between Barentsøya and Edgeøya is the preferred route to Hinlopenstretet, although the eastern end is usually blocked off by ice in the early season. Whatever the conditions, Freemansundet is a great place to look out for bears from the high vantage of the ship. Bears often rest on the tundra on either shore, and it an area where whale and seal carcasses can drift ashore, attracting bears.
Pictures of Svalbard- SE
Highlights in Svalbard- SE
Located on the NW corner of Edgeøya at the entrance to Freemansundet, Kapp Lee is the location of a Walrus haul out that is also a good location for Reindeer, the chance of Arctic Fox, and great tundra vegetation.
It is also a site of cultural significance with the foundations of a Pomor dwelling and several hunters cabin including a hexagonal shaped hut that is right next to the Walrus haul out. Just above the shoreline on nearby beach are the remains of a Bow Head Whale where the carcass must have drifted ashore long ago. Now, with isostatic rebound (the land slowly rising up after being pushed down under the weight when the whole of Svalbard was under an ice sheet) the bones are a short distance above the shoreline.
The largest glacier on Spitsbergen that flows into the NW sector of Storfjorden with the longest front to any glacier in Svalbard where it reaches the sea.
With numerous carvings it is almost impossible for a ship to get close for a ship to get close, apart from the northern end, but it makes for a stunning Zodiac cruise with the ice cliffs, the icebergs, and the brash ice. As well as looking out for wildlife the area is known for its stunningly beautiful blue icebergs.
This is the sound between Edgeøya and Barentsøya, flat topped islands compared to Spitsbergen, with tundra flats and slopes below higher cliffs of hexagonal pillars.
This is the preferred route to Hinlopenstretet, although the eastern end is usually blocked off by ice in the early season. Whatever the conditions, it is a great place to look out for bears from the high vantage of the ship. Bears often rest on the tundra on either shore, just be aware there are plenty of reindeer that the inexperienced can mistake for a bear in the early season with their whitish coats. It is also an area where whale and seal carcasses can drift ashore, attracting bears. With the tundra there is still the slight influence of the gulf stream. But once through the eastern end the ship is in the high Arctic and a very different landscape, dominated by the polar desert and ice caps.
This is the sound between Spitsbergen and Barentsøya and a second way to reach Hinlopenstretet instead of Freemansundet.
However, with the extremely strong currents few captains go this way, and usually later in the season, when there is less chance of ice floes hurtling through on the current, and at the right stage of the tide. It is a spectacular ship cruise, often with lots of feeding seabirds. There is a nearby passage that is far too narrow to sail through, but there is the option to go through this narrow passage by Zodiac whilst the ship goes through the main channel and picks up the Zodiacs on the other side. A really exciting and fun Zodiac cruise!
On the west coast of Edgeøya, Diskobukta is a narrow canyon, set in the steep hillside, with a large colony of Black-legged Kittiwakes, of over 100,000 birds.
It is quite a challenge to get ashore with the shallow seas just offshore, that makes it even more worthwhile to get here. With so many birds Arctic Foxes often patrol the base of the cliffs.