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Svalbard's dramatic landscape of sea, ice, and craggy peaks (above and left) is awe-inspiring—all the more because it's so far from civilisation. "If our boat was still, then it was completely silent," says Stephen. "You're really, really far from anything—and you feel it. It's remarkable." Few people live in this remote, inhospitable archipelago, and the town of Ny-Ålesund is the northernmost permanent settlement in the world. "It's all scientists who live there. In winter, fewer than 40 people stay," says Stephen.

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These scientists live among a surprising amount of wildlife, including polar bears. "Polar bears look so cuddly but they're really dangerous—they can swim faster than you, they can run faster than you," explains Stephen. "When we got off the boat, we had an armed guard with us at all times. Most of the time we saw bears from the boat—only one time did we see a bear in the distance when we were on land. When we did, we were instructed to slowly walk to our Zodiacs and get back to the boat."


The ship in question was the M/S Stockholm, which Stephen and 12 other photographers called home for 10 days. "The crew is great and the cook is fantastic," says Stephen. "Svalbard is a very special place.

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Photography: Stephen King

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Tags: Travel, Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Polar Bear