Explore the harsh, pristine paradise of Franz Josef Land

Explore the harsh, pristine paradise of Franz Josef Land

Stepping ashore on any of the mostly unexplored, ice-clad islands of the Franz Josef Land archipelago feels as it might have 130 years ago, when they were first discovered; the 191 islands are a pristine, naturalist’s paradise, where the wilderness is not a lovely place to soothe your soul, but a severe, tutelary god. Ten degrees off the North Pole and bitingly cold, there is no comfort here but for your parka, zodiac and ship, though you will be beaming all the same in such an inhospitable but majestic clime. It is beautiful. Elemental. You’ll be further overawed if you spot local walrus, arctic fox, arctic squirrel, seal or polar bear; walking ashore, hugging the coast in your Zodiac or when the ship pushes through ice floes, you will sight their tracks and see these animals living strong and free, where all self-consciousness is a threat to survival. At Franz Josef you’ll be immersed in the stark reality of life in the Arctic. Though, thankfully, you can get the odd birds-eye view, too, from the ship’s helicopter…

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