Polar bear is the animal on Svalbard that people are most concerned about. This means that many want to see the bear, but the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act sets strict limits to how one should behave.
The polar bear is the world's largest terrestrial predator. Svalbard has the world's densest bear population. Polar bears have been totally protected in Svalbard since 1973 and can only be killed in self-defense. In § 30 it says: "It is forbidden to attract, feed, chase or any actively seek polar bear so that it is disturbed or there is danger for humans or bears."
Violation of this section may result in fines and suspended prison sentence.
* Note. Look around and go were you have the best overview in the terrain
* Pull back calm if you see polar bears. Do not follow.
* Do not camp in the coastal zone. Water and ice are natural places for bears searching for food.
* Use the tripwire around the camp.
* Place food at a good distance from the tent with view from the tent opening.
* Never make hot food inside the tent. The bear is attracted to odors.
* Be properly armed. Rifle intended for big game hunting is an ideal weapon for polar bear protection.
It is important to remember that without experience, weapons a false sense of security. In addition to the rifle
carry a signal gun, signal pen or bright shots. Use of weapons is always the last resort.
The climatic conditions in Svalbard changes rapidly, and bitter cold makes great demands on you and your equipment.
In winter you have to dress in layered wool, windproof jacket and pants, hat, gloves and good winter shoes with room for wool socks. For organized tours you get special clothes and only need to bring inner clothing. Frost damage is among the most common injuries in Svalbard and is mainly due to missing or incorrect clothing. It is always wise to carry extra gloves, socks and hat. We always recommend that you use wool, rather than technical and synthetic materials.
In summer you do not need more clothes than what you use for a trip to the Norwegian autumn mountains. The clothes should be water and windproof. Bring a hat and gloves, as it can be cold wind even though it is summer.
It is mandatory to drive with a helmet on Svalbard, which also applies to all passengers or those who sit on the sled / sluffe. When you have driven with a snowmobile in 1 hour there is at least a day's march back to square one. Spare parts, emergency gear and fuel is required for trips outside the local area. Every year is is conducted several rescue missions for snowmobile riders. Be humble in relation to the weather, and do not overestimate your own abilities.
Weapons and safety
As protection from polar bears large caliber rifle, kaliber.308 win or coarser. Without good knowledge of the weapon and adequate fire weapons training is a false sense of security. To scare the bear a flare gun, or the signal pen gun is more suitable, but can never replace the rifle. Flares are useful for warning of danger or accident.
To protect your camp we advise you to use tripwire.
To rent weapons on Svalbard you have to carry a weapon card. Persons not holding a firearms license, may apply to the Governor for permission to rent a weapon.
It is also possible to bring your own weapons from the mainland, contact the airline to be used for information about the current rules around this.
If you wish not to carry weapons yourself, you can rent a guide with security equipment with us.
To be able to notify quickly in an emergency situation, there are requirements that you need to have emergency beacon when you're hiking on Svalbard.
This is ONLY to be triggered if there is danger to life or health, as this will trigger a major rescue operation. The signals from the beacon provides accurate information about your position, making it possible for the rescue team to reach you quickly.
Satellite telephone can be a useful supplement to an emergency beacon, but will never be able to replace it.
Emergency beacon and satellite phone can be rented from us.
It is not possible to use the cabin without having a permission, except in emergencies.
Tracks in the wild
Bonfires, latrines, cairns and other tracks in the countryside is not to be left behind.
Notification- and insurance requirements
If you are visiting and going on a trip alone outside Area 10, you have obligation and insurance requirements to the Governor of Svalbard. This means that you must contact the Governor in advance of your trip. You will receive information and a notification form to be filled out and returned. After the Gouvernor has recieved your form you will be you will be notified of the amount of insurance or bank guarantee needed, for you to be allowed to undertake the trip. You can either buy an insurance policy that covers the amount, or get a private bank guarantee for the full amount. Insurance or bank guarantee must cover any search and rescue operations and patient transportation. Documentation of this must be sent the Governor for approval. You get a registration card when the insurance or bank guarantee is approved by the Governor. The card will accompany you on your trip for any control. The card is to be returned to the Governor when you are finished.
As visitors to Svalbard can travel within the administration area 10, for more information on this see the Governor's website.