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Meet a Svalbard guide

Meet a Svalbard guide

Fredric Fröberg has Svalbard’s majestic Arctic nature as his office

Meet the Svalbard Guide, Fredric Fröberg

Guide Fredric Fröberg has Svalbard’s majestic Arctic nature as his office. He works for Longyearbyen’s second largest tour operator, Svalbard Booking, and takes tourists on adventures during both summer and winter. During the wintertime, you will generally find him cruising along on a snowmobile accompanying a group of tourists on a day trip, while during the summertime he guides spectacular boat trips in a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) or ATV safaris in the area around Longyearbyen.

Sara Borcgrevink MadsenFredric is now in his fifth winter season. He has experienced close encounters with polar bears on many occasions, loves the beautiful autumn sunsets and knows every chapter of Svalbard’s fascinating history.

The guides have expertise in sustainable tourism, safety, environmental protection and how to communicate this, so you can rest assured you will be well taken care of. This interview gives you the chance to become better acquainted with one of Svalbard’s most experienced guides.

What was your first meeting with Svalbard like?
My first experience in Svalbard was a snowmobile trip to the Tempelfjord. During that trip, I had my first encounter with a female polar bear and her two cubs and saw a glacier front for the first time. The nature was dramatic and powerful. After that I stayed here and decided this was the place for me. I have now probably spent more time out in the wilderness than in Longyearbyen.

What’s your favourite trip to guide and why?
The area in which I spend the most time is definitely the east coast because it’s more isolated and more challenging to reach. The journey there goes through two large valleys and over a large glacial system. The reaction of the guests when we reach the top of the Nordmannsfonna glacier and look down over the east coast, the islands of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, and glaciers which stretch as far as you can see remind me why I started to guide and why I will continue doing this.

Fredric FröbergAs an experienced Svalbard guide, you have no doubt met the King of the Arctic many times. Can you tell us your unusual polar bear story?
I was on a snowmobile tour to the east coast with two colleagues and 15 guests. It was in mid-May 2016 and was the last tour for the winter season. It was a sunny day with nice conditions. After a lunch break on the coast, we started to drive back to Longyearbyen. After about 500 metres, my sled got damaged and became disconnected from the snowmobile. I was driving at the back of the group, so I couldn’t do so much. I caught up with the rest of the group and continued driving until we stopped. My two colleagues stayed with the guests and I drove back to get the sled. When I was about halfway back, the snowmobile broke down. I started walking towards the group which was a few kilometres away when a polar bear suddenly appeared. It stayed beside me just 20 metres away for quite some distance. Thankfully, it worked out well for both the bear and I, but it’s an experience I will never forget.

What is important for the guests to consider before registering for an activity in Svalbard?
It’s important to consider whether they can manage 10 hours on a snowmobile or in a boat or whether it may be better to choose a shorter trip closer to Longyearbyen which is just as beautiful.

What’s your favourite season and why?
I don’t have a season I prefer more than the others as the light is completely different during the various times of the year. You get completely different experiences and see the nature in different ways.

Stig LundeWhat’s the greatest nature-based experience you have had in Svalbard?
It was on the second day of a two-day trip to Isfjord Radio when we travelled across the fjord by RIB. We saw a minke whale that started breaching near the boat. This is the only time I have ever seen a ‘full breach’ by a whale. It was completely absurd seeing such a hug animal jumping, but it was also the most powerful experience I have had.

What’s the hardest question you have ever been asked by a tourist?
“Which season do you like best?” It’s difficult to answer because each season has its own charm. I love driving a snowmobile in winter and discovering new places, but I also love the sunsets and fishing trips in autumn. Every season offers opportunities.

What do you believe is a guide’s most important task? 
Getting people to feel safe and experience the nature in a safe way. It’s also exciting to teach the guests about Svalbard’s history and climate challenges.

Do you have an inside tip some something good to do in Longyearbyen?
Personally, I really like the Svalbard Museum. I can spend a lot of time there when the weather is bad. Longyearbyen is also a place where it’s nice to walk round and watch the local urban life.

Written by Linn Cecilie Blekkerud

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