"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Berit and Karl Våtvik
Founders of Svalbard Villmarkssenter AS
Karl was born on a small farm in Norway. There were only 2 neighbors, no telephone, no road, no electricity, He started basic but then still until he turned 14 years old, he spent on this farm every summer, so in a way, he was growing up in such kind of lifestyle: "That was a good start. And you know when you grow up like that, you learn to do everything".

Berit was born in Finnmark, and then moved to Tromsø when she was five years old, but her whole family comes from the countryside. Although she was growing up in Tromsø, every summer Berit was in the countryside and visited her family, and the same there they had no electricity, they had farms, so she also took part in the adults' life, to work a little bit: "And of course, it was a good school, it gave me skills, as Karl says, for the rest of my life".
Go back to the basics
Our philosophy
We are all part of the race, each in our own way. We are bought and paid for. Everything that can be converted to cash in the pocket is exploited, even the natural wilderness itself.
Simplicity and respect for the resource base that we depend on here have long traditions in our country, but now also here this lifestyle is being taken over by an ever-increasing hunger for the consumption of goods and services. Nobody is really to blame for the situation we see today, since it is largely the result of scientific and industrial development. It has, nevertheless, made the maximizing of profits in the shortest possible time the main goal of modern development.

That something in this development trend is not right, is not difficult to see if one really looks into the issue and is willing to open one`s eyes to the ultimate ecological consequences of industrialization and the consumer society. To solve these problems we must again learn to cooperate with nature and with each other. This can only happen by us asking ourselves: What contribution – however small can I make towards a transition to a more fair and environmentally friendly society?

Arctic tourism in today`s form is extremely energy-demanding. Any attempt to establish tourism as a business without seeing these realities is what a British historian once described as "Lack of knowledge and perspective, as well as lacking understanding of vital connections and inter-relationships."

Svalbard`s vulnerable nature is now meant to finance an armada of snow-mobiles, cars, rib boats and other tour boats.

This means that it is not only persons on Svalbard that will be living of the tourist industry, but also the producers of the different vehicles all over the world. The unique natural environment of Svalbard will, in other words, have to pay for work forces all over the world. Time will only show if we can care for this amazing oasis of wilderness in such a way that it can carry this burden.

We strive to stand for a resource-friendly utilization of our natural environment, and we try to take all lifeforms into consideration in our work, from micro-organisms to higher plants and animals.

Sincerely yours,
Berit and Karl Våtvik