Birdcliff Camp - eastern Isfjord, Spitsbergen

Dark reddish magmatic rocks, orange lichens, white spots of the breeding ledges and juicy green above indicate the bird rocks from long distance.
The surroundings of the Birdcliff Camp - overview from air. Apart from wildlife and Flora, the area invites also to interesting mountain hikes.
On tour on the magmatic rocks near the camp in midnight sun in the late season (August): great light for photography.
Landing at the beach near the Birdcliff Camp - driftwood, once fallen into the huge siberian rivers, then carried by the sea currents for years, has been washed ashore here over centuries.
Guillemots on their narrow breeding ledges on the rocks near the Birdcliff Camp.
Participant with ammonite fossil.

Located on the south side of inner Icefjord.
In early cretacious times, magma forced its way upwards and then, not able to break through to the surface, pressed itself sidewards between already existing older rock sediment layers. Since then, the above sediments have partly eroded away, exposing the more resistant red-brownish crystalline magmatic rocks with their typical column structures, which now highlight like ribbons or sharp plateau edges parts of the landscape of central Spitsbergen. Next to the Birdcliff Camp, these rock columns rise more or less directly from the sea, serving guillemots and kittiwakes, but also some black guillemots, puffins, glaucous gulls, barnacle and pinkfooted geese as breeding places. The white-dotted nesting areas, surrounded by nutrient-loving orange lichens on the dark rocks, the juicy green of the well-fertilized tundra vegetation above and belos, are not only a paradise for birders, but also a colourful feast for the eyes. Polar foxes patrol around the cliffs in search for easy food, reindeers graze on the affluent vegetation, while some skuas breed on the flatland above: bird cliffs are some of the biologically most attractive places on land in arctic nature. At the birdcliff camp, they are just a few hundred metres away.

Naturally, this wealth of wildlife and plants, combined with the rock formations, is the key attraction of the Birdcliff Camp. In addition, it can boast with a phantastic scenic view over most of the northern side of Icefjord, with the sharply cut, column-like structured Temple Mountain (Tempelfjellet) across the water as the most obvious eye-catcher. Within the day excursion area, there are several attractive mountain tops with great view in good weather, and a pittoresque waterfall in the next big side valley.

Geologically, the surroundings of the Birdcliff Camp cover parts of Trias, jurassic and cretacious times, with some of the higher peaks also tertiary - an enormous span of natural history with a multitude of fossils (ammonites, shells, but also bones of fishes and reptiles). The area is internationally famous for some fossile saurus skeletons found here, the location of their finds being protected now as a natural monument.


Communication: Within 1-3 km from the camp, there are some terrain positions from where GSM mobile phone communication is normally possible.

Access during summer: by boat, either during transfer tours to/from Billefjord (Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster Pyramiden, Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster Petunia Camp, Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster Glacier Base) or from/to Longyearbyen. Possible also on foot as a long trekking through the pathless inland (about 30 km) from/to the end of the road near Longyearbyen in Adventdalen.

Restrictions: Until mid-June, inner Icefjord might still be blocked by winter ice in some years - as a rare exception also into early July. During all of the season, on a few occasions, drifting ice fields or wind and swell may cause problems with landings at the camp, Here, like with other camps, such natural conditions may lead to landings at other beaches (a bit more distant from the camp), changes in program by a day or even two, or - very rare (only once in several years) - even a replacement by another camp somewhere else in Icefjord.
Conservation is an important issue in Spitsbergen.  Especially in sensitive places (birdcliffs, fragile vegetation), considerate behaviour is a must, not least for photographers and wildlife watchers: we are the guests. How much money you have invested into your travel is of no relevance for the animals living there. Therefore, disturbances and vegetation damages have to be minimized. This starts already at home: for watching or depicting animals from a long enough distance to avoid disturbances, you need appropriate optical equipment.

Camp equipment, camp life: The standard equipment of the camps are spacious cotton base tents (central height 2.6m, ground diameter 4-5m, the natural material lets humidity pass from inside to outside - even when cooking in the tent, condensation problems are minimal) and simple cooking gear (Trangia red spirit stoves).
For safety reasons (storm or polar bears), the camp is taken down by each group leaving and set up by each group arriving.
Insulation mats (foam, 10mm) are handed out to all participants in Longyearbyen to be taken along personally to the camp(s).
Provisions taken to the camps for preparing food are mostly long-lasting staple foods (mostly dehydrated). Food is simple but ample and all camp chores are shared (setting up and taking down of camp, getting water, cooking, washing up, etc.).
For polar bear safety during sleeping time, the typical procedure is night watch in shifts with everybody participating (gun stays with guide), which works well regarding sufficient sleep with groups of 5 or more (including guides) persons. For smaller groups, an alternative can be a tripwire alarm.
For special arrangements, different/additional equipment, etc. can be discussed.

Please read also: important general informations regarding Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster  Wilderness tent camps in Spitsbergen

Utilisation: The Birdcliff Camp is used for regular programs of Spitsbergen Tours von Ende Juni to early August ((as this is the main period with birds in the cliffs), but can be extended for special arrangements (landscape photography, etc.) into September.
Regular programs including the Birdcliff Camp (if offered in the requested year):
• Varieties of Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster Icefjord - Boat, Hiking and Trekking,
Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster Circling Icefjord,
• Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster Special arrangements for photographers and other travellers wanting to study or simply enjoy nature

Last Modification: 29.02.2012