Summary : The journey begins in West Greenland’s Kangerlussuaq, and makes its way to Inuit land of Nunavut on Baffin Island. Inuit have lived on this coast for millennia, and during your voyage to the north you will visit several small settlements. It was from here that Inuit migrated to Northwest Greenland 1,000 years ago and created the basis for the modern Greenlandic population. Scout for polar bears, narwhals and bowhead whales.
From Baffin Island, navigate into Lancaster Sound, the start of the Northwest Passage, and then head back to Greenland. Visit the admired Knud Rasmussen's trading station in Thule and navigate further down the west coast to Upernavik, Uummannaq and Ilulissat before returning to Kangerlussuaq after an expedition voyage that encompasses the wide range of Arctic nature and its fascinating population.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Dedicated Solo Cabins, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Board your included flight in Reykjavik (or Copenhagen; TBD) and fly to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland where you will board the ship.
During your time at sea, the ship will head across Davis Strait to Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. During your crossing, there are good opportunities to relax in the ship's library, participate in the series of lectures and look for seabirds and whales out on deck.
Your onboard lecturers will make inspiring and enriching presentations about both John Davis, Canada's and Greenland’s past history and about the unique polar wildlife, nature and climatology.
Over night the ship has approached Cape Dyer, where the United States established one of their many DEW (Distant Early Warning) stations that surround the Arctic continental American. Cape Dyer itself is a towering edge towards the Davis Strait of about 800 meters elevation. The station on the very top of it has sister buildings in more places around Greenland and even the Ice Sheet. The cliff and the station could very well be your first view of Arctic Canada (if you’re awake!).
Like its Greenlandic named counterpart Qeqertarsuaq, Qikiqtarjuaq means “the big island”. The town with around 600 inhabitants lies on an island outside of Baffin’s east coast. The area is known for their many whales, and the Bowhead whale (also known as the Greenland right whale or Arctic whale) which is only found in Polar waters, so keep an eye out for them!
Follow the Baffin Island east coast further north to Isabella Bay, which is designated a Bowhead whale sanctuary, so you may be able to spot them here. The Ninginganiq marine habitat around Isabella Bay is a protected National Wildlife Area. This is an important habitat for a lot of marine mammals and seabirds, apart from the Bowhead whales. Journey into the bay and keep a watchful eye for fauna.
Arctic Canada is called the territory of Nunavut. The North Eastern area that includes Ellesmere, Devon and Baffin Island is known as the Qikqtaaluk region. It covers an area of nearly 1 million square kilometers, which is roughly half of Greenland. The desolate landscapes offers beautiful views that can stretch for hundreds of kilometers over the glacially scarred land masses.
The sheer magnitude of vertical rocks on each side of the Sam Ford Fjord are quite impressive. The natural beauty of the fjord and the dark waters are home to narwhals and seals. The isolated fjord was created by glaciers and some of the cliffs are up to 1,500 meters above sea level. In this amazing wilderness area, there may also be the possibility of spotting many migratory birds.
Pond Inlet, which in the local Inuit language is named Mittimatalik is a town of 1,600 inhabitants, of which most are Inuits. Take a stroll through the town to take in the building styles and culture.
The polar Arctic climate allows for only short summers. Still visitors come here to experience the spectacular views with mountains, glaciers and icebergs floating along.
After your visit head back to the ship for lunch and head north through the Eclipse Sound dividing Baffin Island and Bylot Island.
Cruise further north into the gateway to the Northwest Passage, Lancaster Sound. Depending on the ice situation and the weather, make your way into the entrance of the passage.
During the day cruise along the eastern coast of Devon, which is the largest uninhabited island in the world. Continue north towards Ellesmere Island, which is the third largest island in Arctic Canada. All migrations of the Inuit to Greenland have crossed over Ellesmere Island and Smith Sound. Your course will break east and set straight for Greenland’s western coast, as you wave your goodbyes to the Canadian coasts and waters.
During the night the ship will have traversed Smith Sound and arrived at Greenland’s western coast. You are now in inhabited areas once again.
Anchor beside the Uummanaq hill and the Dundas Peninsula. See the American Thule Air Base (Pittufik) in the distance. This is the location of Knud Rasmussen’s legendary trading station. This is where the Cape York or Polar Eskimos could trade their skins and not only receive glass pearls like the early whalers would give them, but rather actual tools and weapons. Most of the proceeds that Knud Rasmussen later gained in Denmark, were used to fund further expeditions accompanied by local Inuits. In this way the expeditions became famous for being sponsored by the local Inuit communities. The expeditions were known as 1st to 6th Thule Expedition.
The trading station is also the meeting point between Knud Rasmussen and the one-eyed Meqqusaaq and the shaman Qillarsuaq, who had arrived here from Baffin Island along with 20 other Canadian Iniut.
Cruise around the Melville Bay and follow the coast heading in a southern direction. Pass Meteor Island and Savissivik which is the largest settlement in the Avannarsuaq (or Thule) area. The name translates into ”The place where you can sharpen your knife”. The name is related to the iron meteor that struck this area thousands of years ago which the Inuit’s with great care “carved” arrow heads and knives from. The Melville Bay is an exciting and adventurous place to travel around.
It is not every summer that the sea ice breaks up, and if it doesn’t, it will make your voyage different, but at the same time increase your chances to see seals close-up, along with their natural predator, the polar bear.
After a fantastic day of coastal and ice cruising, arrive at the extraordinary looking 540 meter tall rock tower; the Devil's Thumb, or rather Kullorsuaq in Greenlandic. Visit the local village where around 400 inhabitants have their home. They are avid hunters and poachers here, and it’s even common for the locals to hunt the polar bear. They use the skins to make their coveted polar bear pants as well as using the meat, passing it around to every house in the village (the meat is said to be of a very acquired taste).
Upernavik territory covers an area nearly the size of Great Britain. In the town itself and the 10 smaller villages in the area, 3,000 inhabitants roam. Upernavik is home to the world’s northernmost open air museum with well preserved buildings from the colonial period. Today, Upernavik is a mix between the hunter culture of old and the new wave with high-tech fishing. You can equate the old and new with the dog sleighs that exist alongside the modern snowmobiles. Even this far north the modern times are catching up.
The city itself was founded as a Danish colonial station, but the surrounding areas and small villages history go back more than 4,500 years. This was when groups of hunters and gatherers travelled along the coasts of Alaska, Canada and ultimately Greenland.
Anchor and make a landing to visit the little city and the museum.
Leaving Upernavik behind, the ship will pass Svartenhuks' darkly colored hills. Keep a lookout for the muskoxen and the whales these waters are famous for.
When you wake up this morning, you will find yourself almost 600km north of the Arctic Circle, and in one of Greenland’s most beautiful and sunny regions. The ship has reached Uummannaq, situated on a small island. The impressive 1,175m heart-shaped mountain has given the town its name dominates the view (Uummannaq means ‘place where the heart is’). There will be time to explore the city before heading back to the ship for lunch.
Ilulissat is possibly the most well located town in Greenland. The name simply means ‘icebergs’ in Greenlandic, and the town’s nickname is rightly ‘the Iceberg Capital’.
In Disko Bay, which is located just off the coast of Ilulissat, gigantic icebergs are packed in the cold waters. These icebergs come from the Ice fjord, a half hour’s hike south of Ilulissat. These impressive frozen structures are born some 43 miles deeper into the fjord by the enormous Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier. This 6 mile wide glacier is the most productive glacier outside of Antarctica; whereas most glaciers only calve at a rate of approximately a meter/three feet a day, the Ilulissat glacier calves at a rate of approx. 82 feet per day. The icebergs produced by the glacier represent more than 10% of all icebergs in Greenland, corresponding to approx. 20 million tons of ice per day!
These facts, together with the fjord’s unforgettable scenery, have secured the Ice Fjord a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
During the more than 250 years that have passed since the establishment of Ilulissat, the town has steadily flourished. Today, Ilulissat is Greenland’s third largest town, with more than 4,500 inhabitants. The town is very vibrant, welcoming and lively with a wide range of cultural attractions, according to Greenlandic standards.
The legendary polar explorer, Knud Rasmussen, and his good friend Jørgen Brønlund, were both born in Ilulissat.
On this day, you will also have the opportunity to join a boat trip to the Ice fjord (optional excursion for an extra fee). The journey takes about two and a half hours in total, a great opportunity to take a closer look at the amazing ice-sculpted scenery.
The trip is definitely something out of the ordinary and a great natural experience that you will remember for years to come – but be sure to have warm clothing on!
If a hike or a trip by boat does not present enough excitement, there is also an opportunity to arrange a helicopter ride over the Ice fjord (optional excursion).
Please note the boat and helicopter excursions to the Ice Fjord are not included in the general tour price. Furthermore, the helicopter excursion must be booked in advance (extra fee applies).
In the evening, cruise southward, leaving lovely Disko Bay behind.
The last day will be at sea getting glimpses of sea birds migrating south.
Your lecturers onboard will make inspiring and enriching presentations about Greenland’s history, nature, wildlife and climatology. Enjoy the captain’s farewell drink and a slideshow with all the memories and highlights from your voyage made by the onboard photographer this evening.
Disembark the ship after breakfast.
There is an optional excursion to Reindeer Glacier (extra fee). It is not recommended for people who suffer from bad necks or backs, as the gravel road to the ice sheet is occasionally bumpy and uneven.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Reykjavik or Copenhagen.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to ice and weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation on this expedition, all passengers must purchase emergency evacuation/repatriation insurance; minimum $200,000. The medical insurance must be able to cover all existing health issues the passenger might have. It must also cover medical treatment and medical evacuation in any of the areas traveled. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends at least $200,000 Emergency Medical/Evacuation coverage for Antarctic trips which includes coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
All guests interested in Kayaking need to participate in Kayaking information meetings and safety briefing on day one. After the briefing they need to be approved by the Kayak Master. If they are not approved by the Kayak Master they are not allowed to participate. All kayaks are double kayaks (no single), and there are 6 of them on board. 12 guests per outing. They try to get 2-3 kayaking outings on one Expedition (subject to weather conditions). Exercise your body while engaging your mind and heart in an unforgettable outing, safely guided by kayak masters throughout the journey. The Antarctic region, weather, sea and ice conditions will dictate when and where kayaking may be possible in order to ensure your safety and improve your experience. Kayaking is weather dependent.
Onboard Expedition Photographer:
Each voyage has a dedicated expedition photographer onboard to document the voyage and share their passion for photography through lectures and during landings and Zodiac cruises. Greenland is filled with mesmerizing landscapes, and the expedition photographer is available to help elevate your photographic capabilities to beautifully capture the magical moments of your voyage.
Optional Boat Trip to Ilulissat Icefjord:
The journey takes about two and a half hours in total, and presents an opportunity to gain a closer look at the amazing ice-sculpted scenery. The trip is definitely something out of the ordinary and a great natural experience that you will remember for years to come- but be sure to remember warm clothes!
Optional Helicopter Flight over Ilulissat Icefjord:
Discover huge iceberg pushing towards the mouth of the Kangia Icefjord, and breaching their way into the Disko Bay. Get to see the very small settlement of Ilimanaq just south of the icefjord, and if you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of the many whales in the bay on your way back to Ilulissat. Fly in a Vulcanair Partenavia P68 airplanes. These airplanes are ideal for the purpose of sightseeing flights. Being high wing mounted with large windows at each seat, you have the perfect conditions for taking pictures and bringing your memories back home, as well as giving you a clear view of the landscape. The Partenavia, can carry up to 5 passengers plus the pilot. Duration: approx. 40 min.
Optional Reindeer Glacier Excursion in Kangerlussuaq:
Your journey to one of the area’s most remarkable glaciers requires transport via a tundra coach, a 4WD vehicle, which is designed to take on the rocky, changeable terrain and gravel roads. Along the way, keep your eyes open for the wildlife that resides in the area, namely reindeer and musk oxen, while you let your mind wander while listening to the history and stories of the area narrated by your guide.
Roundtrip flights between Reykjavik (or Copenhagen; TBD) and Kangerlussuaq; transfers between airport/ship; gear on loan (boots); shipboard accommodations; digital photo journal of your trip; all meals onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare other than mentioned as included; accommodations other than the ship; transfers not mentioned as included; passport and visa expenses; optional excursions; alcohol, soft drinks and other beverages besides coffee and tea; Wi-Fi; communication charges; all items of a personal nature; laundry; required travel insurance; gratuities (gratuities will be automatically added to your onboard account; gratuities are adjustable); excess baggage charges; airport departure tax; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos © Albatros Expeditions