Franz-Josef-Land - keywords, introduction


Franz-Josef-Land in keywords:

  • Northernmost land masses of Europe and Eurasia - up to 81°52´N.
  • Ca. 16100 km², about 85 % icecovered, very active glaciers.
  • Some spectacular sceneries, particularly caused by formations related to earlier vulcanism. Famous geodes (stone balls) on Champ Island.
  • Lots of polar bears and walrusses, in addition seals, whales, high arctic avifauna and flora.
  • Fascinating and partly well-preserved relics of the polar pioneers time.
  • Russian territory, but just one manned research base (Krenkel) and a border forces base (Nagurskoe) currently in operation, with in total about 30 persons all year round based on the archipelago.
  • No public transport of any kind to and from the archipelago.
  • Travel options: currently only occasional voyages on ice-classed expedition vessels (see Travel Franz-Josef-Land).
  • Touristically accessible again only since 1990.

Dear friends of Franz-Josef-Land,


The Why and the Development of this Website

A long-lasting relation:

Something like this webside has been on my mind for a long time. In 2008, the first step was made. By now, this website has about 60 subpages with all in all about 500 pictures and is visited on average by 60 users per day - not bad for such an exotic topic. Due to my work in Spitsbergen since 1987, my interest both in the Arctic and Russia have grown further, and therefore, it was logical to gather first informations about the eastern neighbour of Spitsbergen since the late 1980s, collect quite a private library and then even travel there. Pleasantly, my work in tourism and logistics gave me the opportunity to a number of tours to Franz-Josef-Land, Novaya Zemlya, Wiese, Severnaya Zemlya and Vaygach already - be it as a lecturer/guide, or often also as expedition leader. My preference are voyages where going ashore maximally often has clear priority over dining and social life on board: we can read, sit in bars or enjoy long menues also at home, while we can really set the foot on the land only while we are there. And in the Russian Arctic, there are still many chances for "firsts": landing in unknown places, where possibly nobody else has been for decades or more, not only the "musts" of the brochures.

  • 2003 - lecturer on the 2nd Franz Josef Land voyage of the KAPITAN DRANITSYN
  • 2004 - expedition leader on the 2nd Franz Josef Land voyage of the KAPITAN DRANITSYN
  • 2005 - expedition leader on the 2nd voyage of the KAPITAN DRANITSYN to Novaya Zemlya, Wiese Island, Svernaya Zemlya, Taimyr, Belyi (White) Island, Dickson, Vaygach Island
  • 2008 - expedition leader on the 1st Franz Josef Land voyage. Some investigation into the remains of the Fiala-Ziegler 1905 outpost on Opens internal link in current windowCape Dillon.
  • 2008 - expedition leader on the 2nd POLARIS voyage to Franz Josef Land
  • 2011 - expedition leader on the PROFESSOR SHOKHALSKYI to Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. First touristic visits to Legdzina and Mak Bay (Novaya Zemlya), some investigation into the remains of the Fiala-Ziegler Expedition in Opens internal link in current windowTeplitz Bay, first touristic passages of Opens internal link in current windowNewcomb and Sadko Channels and Opens internal link in current windowGeographer´s Bay.
  • 2012 - lecturer/guide on the 1st ORTELIUS voyage to Franz Josef Land. 
  • 2012 - lecturer/guide on the 2nd ORTELIUS voyage to Franz Josef Land. Some investigation into the remains of the STELLA POLARE and Fiala-Ziegler expeditions in Opens internal link in current windowTeplítz Bay and rediscovery of Kane Lodge of the Baldwin-Ziegler expedition on Opens internal link in current windowGreely Island.

These experiences have helped with the Franz-Josef-Land part of my Spitsbergen guidebook (which includes an extra part about the eastern neighbour archipelago), and now also for this webside.
By the way: I am not linked exclusively to a certain tour operator, but have worked so far in the russian Arctic for specialised arctic cruise operators from Australia, the Netherlands and Russia on several different ships. Accordingly, this website is not advertising a specific cruise company.

General source of information for Franz-Josef-Land:

This webside is primarily a private project, only marginally linked to my professional activities. Its intention is to become a prime source of informations about this high arctic archipelago - also for visitors who click on it for other reasons than travel. One reason was a lack of comparable other sites, and another was the experience, that a lot of informations about this archipelago, even on some highly frequented and trusted websides, spreads a surprising lot of wrong informations, often seemingly simply copied from one site to the next due to lack of writers own local competence or checks in the primary literature.
I would be pleased about contributions also from other friends of the Arctic - be it corrections, additions or also sponsoring.
A principle of this webside will be to keep the general content parts free of commercial advertising and product placements. However, some visitors are also interested in finding commercial offers linked to Franz-Josef-Land, for instance in tourism. For these, links to commercial partners and supporters of this webside will be published on fitting subpages, for instance on travel.

Take part in the further development of this site:
Even in Franz-Josef-Land, a number of people have been there, already, or have specific relations to the archipelago. If you would like to contribute something to this website: feel welcome to get in touch !
What I look especially for:

  • Further interesting pictures.
  • Logbooks and travel diaries.
  • Scientific publications.
  • Descriptions and impressions also from non-touristic stays (scientists, technicians, station crewmembers, hunters, fishermen, other ship crew members, etc.)
  • Observations by ornithologists, botanists, geologists, etc..Grundsatz dieser Webseite soll es sein, zumindest die landeskundlichen Teile frei von jeglicher Firmenwerbung zu halten. Auch Links zu anderen werbelastigen Sites wird es im landeskundlichen Teil nicht geben, hierfür ist eher in den Rubriken der Linksammlung-Unterseite Platz.
  • Historic pictures, maps, publications.
  • Interesting non-commercial links

Still, this webside is in many ways under construction: complete subpages are still missing, some translations, more pictures on some pages, etc. - maybe a motivation to contribute ? The contributors to this website so far are listed further down on this page.

I look forward to comments, contributions, etc.. And if you like the site: maybe you place a link on your website and tell me about it ? Also here, a link collection is one of the next steps.
Sponsors: Developing a webside like this, costs work and time. Support is welcome. While the main content of this webside is meant to be free of advertising and product placements, sponsors are welcome to discuss possibilities of supporting the webside, and in return, commercial links can be placed on fitting existing (Travel offers) or possible future subpages, where interested users are likely to find them.

Be fair with requests

I am happy about feedbacks, comments, questions, contributions. However, please respect that also my capacity for unpaid work is limited. I am not so pleased about questions, where somebody simply wants to avoid own efforts on my expenses by addressing me with questions, which anybody can answer oneself with very limited research work on the internet or by checking the few books available on the topic in a major public library.

Arctic greetings,

Andreas Umbreit


Supporters of this website

The following persons and institutions have contributed so far to the attempt to give the users of this website a detailed and manifold picture of Franz Josef Land - in alfabetic order:

Susan Barr, historian: photo, detail informations
Victor Boyarskiy
, expedition leader, expeditions: photos, detail informations
Wilfried Breuss, biologist: photos, detail informations
Jan Bryde, expedition leader: 2 photos, detail informations
Maria Gavrilo, biologist, lecturer: 2 photos, detail informations
Giesen, Holly: original photo of the Baldwin-Ziegler expedition
Susan Gilboe, tour participant: 60 photos
Christoph Höbenreich, geographer, mountain guide, author: 2 photos, detail informations
Peter Korrell, engineer, author: illustrations, detail informations
Birgit Lutz, journalist, lecturer: 1 photo
Vladimir Melnik, scientist, photographer: photos, detail informations
Michael Pohndorff: error correction
Raul Rusu: error correction
Jürgen and Elke Schau, tour participants: 16 photos
terra polaris, Special Agency for Polar Travel: provides website structure
Andreas Umbreit, tour operator, author, expedition leader: website concept, majority of texts, 216 photos (including all without name)
Andrej Volkow, biologist, lecturer: 36 photos, detail informations

Further support - both regarding content and economically, is highly welcome.

Last Modification: 11.01.2015