It is likely that the Pomors or Norwegian sealers knew of Franz Josef Land, but the first recorded landing amongst the 192 islands making up the archipelago was made in 1873 from the sailing vessel Admiral Tegetthoff. They found wide beaches, steep cliffs with nesting sea birds attended by arctic foxes, polar bears and walrus. We hope to find much of the same. The exact sequence and choice of our landings will be decided by the Captain and Expedition leader to take advantage of the ice and weather conditions as we find them.
Possible landing sites include:
Bell Island is mostly ice-free in the summer months and we may be able to undertake a beach cleanup here, to help remove some of the discarded fishing equipment and other rubbish that poses a threat to the wildlife. At Bell Island, we find the remains of the oldest building on Franz Josef Land, left by a British expedition in 1880. In return, the same expedition took a polar bear back to London Zoo!
Cape Flora on Northbrook Island earns its name from the fertilization provided by thousands of sea birds that nest on the cliffs. We hope to see brünnichs guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes. It was in this place that Fridtjof Nansen, having survived an unexpected winter in a tent, met by chance and was rescued by Fredrick Jackson, in June 1896.
Tikhaya Buchta, or “Calm Bay” is the location where a team of meteorologists from the Russian Sedov station were marooned at the beginning of the Second World War. They were not rescued until 1945! We hope to stay for the day to explore a little of the history and listen to the laughter-like calls of the little auks as they fly to and from their burrows in the scree slopes.
Rubini Rock bird cliff lies just off Calm Bay and is perfect for cruising. The cylindrical island is a volcanic plug, the central remains of conical volcano. Its sheer sides of red basalt rise 80meters from the sea and form the best birds cliffs in the archipelago.
Cape Norvegia on Jackson Island holds special significance for us as this was the spot where in September 1895 Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen arrived and prepared to overwinter. Using just a few stones and his tent he made a rude hut and with Hjalmar Johansen successfully survived until the following summer, when they resumed their journey southwards.
The “Devils Marbles” as they are known are found at Cape Triest on Champ Island. More properly called geodes, these spherical rock formations are created by accretion of chemicals within the rock strata. They can be up to 2 metres in diameter! Keep an eye open for walrus in the water or hauled out on the beach as we head ashore in our sturdy tenders.
Alexandra Land is the western most island (not counting the tiny, far flung Victoria Island) and is home to the headquarters of the Russian Arctic National Park, which includes Franz Josef Land. During the Second World War the Germans tried and failed to establish a weather station here.
Please note excursions may be at an additional cost.