First you meet your guide, get fully kitted up with outer Arctic clothing and are then shown how to handle your snow mobile. After the briefing, you head on out of Longyearbyen towards Todalen, before turning west towards the settlement of Barentsburg. This journey takes you to Colesdalen and along the coast past Kapp Laila and Kapp Heer, before arriving at the Russian mining village. Alternatively, depending on the weather, the route could take you to Skiferdalen and across to Grøndalen, before converging with Grønfjorden and Barentsburg. If conditions allow, it would be one route there and the other route back. This is a long day out - eight hours in total.
Barentsburg is the second largest settlement on Svalbard, with about 500 inhabitants (the last count was in 2007) who are almost entirely all Russians and Ukrainians. The Russian-owned company Arktikugol has been mining coal here since 1932. Once you've arrived, there is a quick guided tour of the settlement, before lunch at the Russian Kitchen.
All the necessary equipment is provided (thermo-overall, mittens, socks, boots, balaclava & helmet) and insurance for the snowmobile is covered. However, the driver of the snowmobile is held liable for damages caused to the vehicle to a max of €800. You can either drive alone or you can have a travel companion on board as a passenger (wrap up warm!) and, in these instances, it is usually possible to switch drivers during the safari. You must hold a valid driving license to take the controls. Also included in Spitsbergen is search and rescue insurance and a locally-savvy experienced tour leader, with all the necessary safety equipment and obligatory rifle.