On an isolated rocky point, 1100 kilometres from the North Pole, is Isfjord Radio. These rough, weather-beaten walls hide a cozy, warm and comfortable interior, with mealtimes around the long table in the mess hall as a highlight of the day. You have certainly earned it, after 100 km by snowmobile, dogsled or boat to get here.
Until the 1970s, settlements in Svalbard were completely isolated during winter. Once the ice settled, you were frozen in and could only go south again once the ice broke in the spring. Around Isfjorden were several mining communities, such as Longyearbyen, Barentsburg and several others. Large seal hunting and fishing grounds were to the south and west.
That’s why Svalbard radio was established on Kapp Linné in 1933, near the mouth of the fjord, to facilitate for radio communication between the settlements and the mainland. After the destruction brought on by the war, the buildings were reerected, and new technologies brought new installations. In 1999, permanent settlement here was no longer required, as everything could be controlled from Longyearbyen. And Isfjord Radio could instead open its doors to travellers on the way to the end of the world.
Practical information for visiting Isfjord Radio
The first trip you will need to make is to the town of Longyearbyen. Longyearbyen is located on Svalbard, an archipelego located 958km north of Tromsø at 78 degrees north. Both SAS and Norwegian offer flights to Longyearbyen from Oslo, usually making a passenger pick up stop in Tromsø on the way.
Before arrival or on arrival you can contact Basecamp Explorer, who organise trips to the radio station.
Visit Svalbard has all the information you could need about planning your trip to the archipelago, from fine dining to accommodation and tours, you’ll find it all here.
The world’s most northerly resort
External walls of corrugated steel, huge satellite dishes, a veritable forest of antennas and oil drums; the exterior is as you would expect from an Arctic outpost. The interior, however, is another story completely. Cozy lounges, comfortable rooms with soft beds and modern facilities allow you to escape expedition mode once you’re inside. Take a moment to relax and enjoy the quiet.
Culinary art in the mess hall
For meals, everyone gathers around the large table in the mess hall, just like they did when the radio station was manned. The food, however, is not the same. This is where some of the best chefs on Svalbard work, and the local ingredients are prepared with elegance and style.
Getting there is half the journey
Svalbard has no road network. In winter, visitors travel to Isfjord Radio by snowmobile or dogsled. The distance is around 100 km, and the trip takes approx. 5 hours, depending on weather and snow conditions.
We take our time and enjoy an expedition lunch en route. Along the way we really get in touch with the elements and experiences of the grand Arctic landscape.
There is plenty of time to take photos for your photo album. On the return journey to Longyearbyen, we swing by the Russian settlement Barentsburg for a short sightseeing tour. In summer, visitors make their way to Isfjord Radio by sea.