The area of the campground comprises ca. 30,000 m², mostly flat tundra on a coastal plain, which was lifted above sea-level by post-iceage land rise. Even today, old beach lines and stones rounded in the breaker zone of former beaches are still visible on and above the campingsite, and you may stumble occasionally even over rotten whale bones, stuck in the ground for thousands of years (please do not change anything). An old beach wall all across the campground is the first area which falls dry during snowmelt, suitable for early guests for setting up their tents.
Across the coastal road, towards today´s beach, there is a lagoon, populated by various bird species during summer. Originally the result of digging out gravel for the airport construction, the artificial origin of the lagoon is hardly visible anymore. Since end of summer 2008, the local ornithological club is engaged in measures of improving the attractivity of the lagoon for birds even further, and has put up up information boards for visitors. Campingsite guests enjoy the privilege of having the lagoon within sight at any time, with accordingly good opportunities for bird watching and photography.
On the far side of the lagoon is the actual pebble beach to the fjord, with more birds (and sometimes even seals or belugas). It is here, where the campsite beachlife takes place (see also Longyearbyen Camping Arctic Naked-bathing Certificate) and paddlers can pull up their boats.
Both the tundra vegetation and also the animals are highly vulnerable under the conditions of the Arctic and depend highly on making maximal use of the short arctic summer. No other place of staying in Longyearbyen offers such close experiences of nature - but this includes also a responsibility for minimizing impacts.
Hotellneset, the plain on which the campsite is located, is named after the first hotel on Spitsbergen, which stood from 1896 onwards for some years a bit further to the East. The campingsite itself was installed, when following the opening of the airport in 1975, camping tourism became a fact in Spitsbergen, initially with wild camping right in Longyearbyen, leading to unpleasant remains and abuse of the local facilities from drying dirty socks on the radiators in the miners canteen to washing smelly bodies and clothes in accessible toilets of the settlement.
Banning wild camping in a large area in and around Longyearbyen, and at the same time installing a designated campingsite was the consequence by the Norwegian state, which even set up a nice service building with all necessary facilities for the main season (summer) in 1985, extended already in 1989. For its initial 22 years, the opening season of the service building was limited to the frost-free period, as the non-heated water pipe froze when temperatures dropped a few centigrades below Zero. Also by its construction, the building is not suitable for permanent all-year use also through the coldest parts of winter.
For the first years, the campsite was still owned by the state and run during the season by DNT (Norwegian Tourist Club), then sold for one symbolic norske krone to a local company. This company soon found out that running a campingside in Spitsbergen is not really profitable, so hardly any longterm maintenance investments were done and since 1998, the seasonal management of the campsite was taken over by Spitsbergen Tours on the basis of a long-term leasing contract, which, however, still did not solve the longterm maintenance problem.
In 2007, the former freshwater and sewage pipes had to be renewed for about € 50,000 as a consequence of the enlargement of the airport. The owner of the campsite at that time was not willing to invest this sum and offered the campsite for sale to Andreas Umbreit, who was running it with his company Spitsbergen Tours already since 1998. A seasonal guide of Spitsbergen Tours at that time, Michelle van Dijk, was enthusiastic about this possibility, and so Longyearbyen Camping is owned since 2007 jointly by Michelle and Andreas. In addition to the campsite, both owners continue their other economic activities in Spitsbergen (Michelle: freelance guiding on ships and for hiking tours. Andreas: Spitsbergen Tours, terra polaris).
Apart from the purchase and especially the expensive new pipes, further renovations had to be done urgently, as there had been hardly any longterm maintenance for more than 10 years. Visitors who have used the campsite before and come now again, will notice some improvements.
In 2008, the former high antenna masts on the campsite, still visible on some of the older pictures, were taken down, as this antenna of the airport was out of use for several years, already.
In 2009, the main focus was on improving lots of small details with piping, painting, small repairs, better access to storage, exchange of a main boiler.
For 2010, the installation of new kitchen facilities and possibly new shower cabins is under preparation, and we hope to be able to provide highspeed internet access on the campsite.
The costs of the new pipes were not only a burden: being insulated and heatable against freezing, the new pipes finally allow us to extend our season in the summer, now starting earlier in June and lasting longer into September. And in addition, we can offer now also an extra spring season (April to early May) and extra openings also in other parts of the year on request.