Believe it or not, it’s still possible to fly from Oslo to Longyearbyen to experience next Friday’s solar eclipse for 599 kroner. And stay in a suite at a very nice hotel for 1,200 kroner a night.
Yes, there are a couple of caveats.
The flight on Norwegian Air departs at 9:50 a.m. and arrives at 12:45 p.m. So while technically you’ll be in Svalbard the day of the eclipse and can revel with the masses, you’ll end up being mostly in the dark during the flight.
On the other hand, with the long-term forecast predicting cloudy skies in Longyearbyen, a seat on a plane might offer the best viewing option, even if the blockage of the sun is only near-total instead of total.
Five hotel suites are available at the recently refurbished Barentsburg Hotel in the Russian mining settlement about 60 kilometers from Longyearbyen, said Katerina Zwonckova, a tourism official for Trust Arktikugol, the Russian state-owned company responsible for oversight of the settlement.
While Spitsbergen Travel recently charged 20,000 kroner a night for some hotel rooms in Longyearbyen that became available due to a group cancellation, Zwonckova said Trust Arktikugol is charging its standard rates for accommodations in Barentsburg and Pyramiden during the eclipse.
“First and foremost we are a new player on the market,” she said. “The eclipse is a splendid opportunity to show we can offer something of interest.”
The company also offers transfers by snowmobile from Longyearbyen, including a guide and cold-weather gear, Zwonckova said. The normal rate is 1,800 kroner, but she said the price will be higher during the eclipse.
The company’s hostel in Barentsburg and hotel in Pyramiden are fully booked, she said.
Booking inquiries can be made via firstname.lastname@example.org, and more information about the hotel and tourist offerings in the settlement is available at www.goarctica.ru (the site is in Russian, so viewers will have to cut-and-paste text into Google Translate or something similar).
Visitors not wanting to celebrate the eclipse in a semi Soviet-era village can still find numerous private homes, apartments, cabins and individual rooms available at websites such as airbnb.com.
Rental rates have fluctuated greatly during the months leading up to the eclipse, with average rates of about 10,000 kroner per night several months ago to twice that a couple months later. Prices have generally declined since then, but range widely from about 2,500 kroner to 25,000 kroner a night for a private residence.
(Full disclosure: Our editor is among those trying to rent his apartment at airbnb and social media websites, so while mentioning this option could be seen as an advertising pitch he’s also possibly screwing himself by highlighting the cheap hotel suites in Barentsburg.)