May 23, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer
Today we spent our time in Leifdefjorden on the island of Spitsbergen as we began to make our way west from Nordaustlandet. The terrain is very different here—dominated by 380-million-year-old Devonian rocks very similar to the Old Red Sandstone of Britain and Ireland, giving a very distinctive dark-red color to the landscape. We began the morning with Zodiac cruises in front of Monacobreen, a large and spectacular glacier that empties into Leifdefjorden. The glacier has retreated markedly since the first time Lindblad Expeditions ships visited here in 1987 but remains very beautiful. As we cruised along the edge of the brash ice and into the first-year pancake ice in front of the glacier, we were welcomed by several young bearded seals who seemed to be very curious about us.
After leaving Monacobreen, we cruised up the fjord to a large, low peninsula called Reindyrflya (Reindeer Flat). We anchored in a lovely small bay called Grusbukta, where we were able to take walks ashore and kayak in the very still water. There was a lot of interest in the kayak experience and many guests participated. The conditions were perfect and then a little snow squall covered everything with large snowflakes, which added to the magic. We ended the day with a polar plunge for those hardy souls willing to brave the frigid conditions by jumping into the 29-degree water.
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