Franz Josef Land: Getting close to the North Pole
It´s been over a year since my last entry here. Franz Josef Land is also an old series, still taken on slides, from a trip in July 2004.
The tour started and ended in Kirkenes in Norway, from there we boarded the Russian icebreaker. Nowadays most tours leave from Murmansk. Tours going to the North Pole usually will also stop there shortly.
Franz Josef Land belongs to Russia, but you need no visa to go there. At the time of this tour the islands were reopened for tourism only a few years ago. When ist got busier, between 2011 and 2016 around 5500 people visited the archipelago.
The icebreaker is necessary to reach Franz Josef Land. In July 2004 there was so much ice that zodiacs could not be used to land on the island, we always had to go by helicopter, usually twice a day. But with global warming and the melting of the artic ice, I wonder how much it has changed in the meantime, if you still can see the icescapes show on the pictures here. Sometime in the future probably an icebreaker isn´t needed anymore and ship like those around Antarctica will do it.
It´s an amazing experience to travel on an icebreaker. The always changing scenery of ice and fog, the sound of moving through the ice in the otherwise silence of the remoteness, this is something you won´t hear and see somewhere else. And of course the sun not only doesn´t set at all, the light is only very slightly different at “night” and “day”. Just look at the picture of the two polar bears.
If you want to read about the discovery of Franz Josef Land try the novel “Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis” by Christoph Ransmayr.
You can find its location here: Franz-Josef-Land.