Icebergs, glaciers and the story of a lost explorer at Franz Josef Land

John has been telling this blog’s readers a lot about his recent time on Franz Josef Land, a Russian archipelago. Here, he continues the story – and if it excites you, remember that you can enjoy experiences similar to John’s by turning to WILDFOOT to book excursions in the Arctic.

Day 6

Seeing the site of an amazing adventure story

Monday was another beautiful and bright, but cold day. In the morning, we were moored up off Jackson Island, at the top of the British Channel. This is where the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen overwintered in 1895 when he became stranded in his quest to reach the North Pole.

He was then rescued by the British explorer Frederick George Jackson. We went to see the site of Nansen’s hut – I wouldn’t have fancied staying there in total darkness with winter storms and temperatures down to -40. Would you?!DSCN4635DSCN4663

A “hike” in the snow

In the afternoon, we went for a walk on Ziegler Island – they call it a hike, but it is difficult to make any pace with us all walking in single file over snow and muddy tundra. Anyway, we had managed about 4km when we were told that there was a polar bear swimming towards our Zodiac pick up point, so we had to walk back the same way. This was actually really good, because we could then enjoy the spectacular scenery from both directions!

We then Zodiaced over to the other side and enjoyed time watching the bear wandering around and pausing to roll in the snow.

It really was much colder this far north, with a very chilly breeze. However, the parkas provided to us were very good quality, and we also had thick Muck Co. boots, which were well-insulated, too.

Another Zodiac cruise and another late night

After dinner, we were out on another Zodiac cruise around the icebergs and glaciers. The sun was a bit lower in the sky at this time and the light was fantastic. We enjoyed a stunning landscape of snow-clad hills and bergs and glaciers shimmering under clear blue skies, with occasional banks of mist drifting in for ethereal effect…DSCN4656

As we weren’t back until past 23:00, it was after a couple of night caps that we were once again late to bed. Still, it was so beautiful outside that we were reluctant to close the curtains – so we decided to spend a few more moments on the balcony…