BOREAL, 07 july 2017, fjord & Camp Millar (Varselbukta)

Posted on Monday 10 July 2017

Photo 1 Photo 2

By Florence Kuyper


This morning le Boréal anchors in Recherchefjord, a southern arm of Bellsund. The sky is covered and it’s very calm weather. We disembark at a beach with several buildings. These huts actually belonged to the Northern Exploration Company (NEC). Ernest Mansfield, who strongly believed that there were many minerals in Spitsbergen, minerals that would make him and his company rich, started this company in 1910. He tried hard, at several places in Spitsbergen; from coal mining to Klondike-like gold rush ventures, to end up bankrupt ten years later. The huts, a boat, some winches, barrels and other artefacts are visible remnants of this chapter in the history of Spitsbergen.


We walk on a plateau and enjoy the purple gloom over the tundra of the moss campion flower. A bit further there is a reindeer and close to another hut (the oldest one of Spitsbergen) some one month old cute foxes show themselves to us.


In the afternoon we stay in Bellsund and go to the northern side to Vårselbukta and a place called Camp Millar. Here, the NEC built two huts and dug for a gold vein, that did not exist in the end. Some mine carts and the entrance to the mine remind us of that.


Another big attraction is the cliff with tens of thousands of little auks, as well as the ever calm grazing reindeer near the two huts and some adult and baby foxes running around.
And this was supposed to be the end of a great day… but, at 10 p.m we were treated to two blue whales, who were feeding incredibly close to the ship. Such a moving and rare experience.




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