søndag 14. februar 2010
Villmarkssenteret / Wilderness center
Wednesdau 10th of February, we went to Villmarkssenteret for a fieldtrip. The Wilderness centre is a leading center in Norway for ecotourism, they want to show the tourists the best eco-friendly way to experience nature. They have no snowscooters/snowmobile they use when they take tourists out on trips, they use dog sledge! They had a lot of dogs for this, about 80, of species like Husky, Malamut, Greenland dog, Alaska, and a few mixes. The owner of the Villmarksenter has a long history at Svalbard, he worked here while it was only a mining community. For those of you who does not know, mining was the main reason for building a sustainable settlement here. Before that, Svalbard was used for hunting and whaling. The owner had a lot of stories to tell us from the time when only miners lived here, and there was no stores, hotels, tourist or university center. And of course he had a lot of amazing stories about polar bears!
A cool thing about being on a trip with dogs is that you get a warning before a polar bear reaches you. Also, the dogs can read the polar bears body language, so they now if he is a threat or not. It is probably the safest way to travel around in the wilderness of svalbard, you don´t have to worry about a scooter being broken or putting up tripwires when you´re sleeping outside.
When we went to the center, we where sitting in an exact copy/replica of the house that William Barentsz brought with him when he discovered Svalbard (in 1596). We after a picture slideshow with some incredible pictures from Svalbard, the Northern Light, polar bears and the sledge dogs, we had a really nice dinner made by the owner and his wife. The owner also told us a lot of Svalbards history in general, and his experiences at trips along Svalbard.
Villmakrsenteret is located a little bit away form Longyearbyen, up in Adventdalen vally. When we came out of Barentsz building, we had a total clear sky, full of stars, and Northern Lights running over Adventdalen! It was amazing!