Difference between revisions of "Ny-Ålesund"
Latest revision as of 17:46, 22 February 2014
Ny-Ålesund is a tiny settlement on the west coast of the island of Spitsbergen, Svalbard.
Located at 78°55′N 11°56′E, Ny-Ålesund is by most measures the northernmost permanent settlement in the world (except for a few military bases). Founded in 1916 as a coal mining town, the town housed 400 people at its peak, until it was shut down in 1962 after an explosion killed 21 people.
Ny-Ålesund reopened in 1968 as a research base. Today owned and run by Kings Bay AS, the tiny town is home to 30-35 people year-round, but the population can swell to over 120 in the summer. Practically all inhabitants are scientists.
Ny-Ålesund can be visited fairly easily as a cruise stopover, but spending any more time there is difficult, to say the least. Bona fide scientists interested in running a research project at Ny-Alesund may contact NySMAC to apply.
Lufttransport operates semi-regular flights all year round (2-3 weekly) to Longyearbyen (25 minutes), albeit subject to weather conditions. Reservations can only be arranged via Kings Bay, and seats must be booked well in advance.
For most non-scientists a cruise stopover is the only way of reaching Ny-Ålesund. The cheapest and fastest way appears to be Spitsbergen Travel's  3/4-day cruises from Longyearbyen, with rates starting at 7900 kr (c. US$1500, cheapest cabin, twin sharing). Cruises operate only from May to October.
Visitors are given a map of the area and are required to stay on the marked path at all times. The path is a round trip from the pier and is approximately 1km long. There are information boards along the route to explain the history and purpose of the buildings and exhibitions that you pass.