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Barneo – Arctic Adventure

Barneo is a Russian Arctic ice base that is set up on a floating island of ice toward the end of March, and dismantled and abandoned in early May. For just forty days each year, Barneo is the only shelter and replenishment station in the vast ice and water wilderness of the Arctic Ocean, providing a vital service to polar explorers and scientist as they pursue their ultimate goal of reaching the North Pole. As essential as the ice base is to research and science, its role as a tourism destination is what many find fascinating, with wealthy adventure seekers keen to spend some time in the harsh and unforgiving terrain and climate of Barneo.

Sponsored by the Russian Geographical Society under the banner of the PanArctic Ice Camp Expedition (PAICEX), Barneo is the venue for polar scientists and explorers from all around the globe to gather and combine their experience and expertise to achieve a number of goals. Among the concerns of scientists are issues relating to climate change, with a very real concern being the decreasing thickness of ice layers, as well as a reduction in marine life, from microalgae to fish, along with sea mammals, birds and polar bears.

Barneo has been an annual expedition ever since it was first established in 2002. A reconnaissance team is sent out in March to search for a suitable ice floe. When a suitable candidate is found, the team at Murmansk port is notified of the co-ordinates, whereupon they send out a plane carrying tractors to clear an airstrip. Once this is accomplished, a commission is sent from Krasnoyarsk to inspect and approve the ice floe – and then the real activity begins as personnel and equipment is flown in to construct the camp and put Barneo back on the map for the forty-day season.

Royalty has been among the rich and famous to visit Barneo, with Prince Harry of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert II of Monaco being on the list. The basic facilities and harsh conditions are no deterrent to adventure seekers, and each year Barneo welcomes hundreds of polar explorers, both amateur and professional, along with intrepid travelers who simply want the experience of living on a huge chunk of ice in the vast Arctic Ocean to add to their portfolio of extreme vacation destinations.


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