Walrus Safari from Longyearbyen



Last updated: January 28th, 2024

Background

On Saturday, July 1st, 2023 I went on a walrus safari boat tour through Better Moments, departing from the port in Longyearbyen, Svalbard.

Itinerary

  • Slightly before 9AM I was picked up outside of the Coal Miners Cabin hotel in a van.
  • By 9:15AM everyone on the tour was on the boat and it left the port.
  • Around 10:30AM we started passing icebergs in Borebukta.
  • At 10:45AM we arrived at the walrus colony where the boat stopped for a while for photos. Around this time everyone was offered coffee or tea.
  • By noon everyone was offered a ham and cheese sandwhich. Following this everyone was offered some wine in a wooden cup.
  • After noon, we departed the walrus colony and saw icebergs.
  • Around 1PM we were at the Soviet ghost town of Grumant. Afterwards we began returning to Longyearbyen, seeing Beluga whales along the way.
  • We arrived back in Longyearbyen at 2PM. From here, we were brought back to our hotels in the same van.

Further Details

The boat had around 11 passengers. Everyone needed to wear a life jacket. The water was not choppy on the day I went.

Along the way we saw some walrus diving into the water for mussels. They can hold their breath for long periods of time.

After the boat stopped, it was possible to hear the walrus. They lay on the beach and then go into the water to eat large amounts of mussles, which they find with their whiskers. We were close enough to be able to smell the walruses.

We did not get off the boat due to the thick fog and potential danger it posed. It is possible a polar bear could have shown up through the fog.

Along the way back, stopping at the Soviet ghost town of Grumant, we learned about a disease that was in the water. Long ago a mouse was brought there and it infected the water with some type of bacteria. Therefore, water must be boiled in this area before drinking it. Failure to do so would cause a virus to enter the body which lays dormant for 20 years, after which the body is eaten from the inside out.

Overall, the tour provides a way to see a walrus colony up close. The walrus are large creatures that have giant tusks. They are not afraid of humans as they have such a large size. Icebergs and other wildlife such as whales can be seen along the way.


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