The Svalbard islands are located between 74° and 81° north, the most northerly part of Europe extending well into the Arctic circle. This region comprises one of the largest deserts on earth, the Arctic polar desert. Despite not fitting into the traditional view of a desert (ie hot and sandy!) the low annual rainfall is low enough to class it as a desert.
This is a stark environment. Around 60% of Svalbard is covered in glacial ice and 30% is barren rock, with mountain peaks rising up to 1700 metres. Just 10% of the land is covered in vegetation.
Svalbard is a land of extremes. During the polar night, from November to February, it remains dark with only moonlight or the northern lights providing any light when the sky is clear. Then from mid April to mid August, the sun never drops below the horizon as Svalbard enjoys the midnight sun.
The arctic climate creates a harsh environment but it is also surprisingly fragile. It is vital that human activity does not have catastrophic effects on these remote areas which are so vulnerable to external influences. Kandoo have long been a supporter of Leave No Trace and we apply these principles in Svalbard as we do in all our destinations to ensure that we help to preserve these unique environments.