Summary : Discover the wonders of Svalbard’s northwest coast and Greenland’s spectacular east coast. See calving glaciers, keep and eye out for polar bears hunting, and spot puffins and guillemots nesting on ledges. Tundra walks through wildflowers, photographing arctic fox, musk oxen, seals, walrus and whales—this trip has it all. Did we mention Inuit settlement visits, kayaking near sculpted icebergs and rock climbing in East Greenland too?
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
$8,400 to $16,000
Arrive in Kirkenes, Norway and join a pre-arranged half day excursion or activity prior to boarding the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon. Airport transfers will be included if arriving on preferred flights into Kirkenes. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before important briefings.
Over the next two days at sea, enjoy informative and entertaining lectures from an expert expedition team including naturalists and historians before reaching Svalbard’s southeast coast.
As the Greg Mortimer passes between Spitsbergen and the smaller islands of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, cross a major polar bear migration route and the beautiful fertile plains of Sundeneset. The spongy ground is richly covered with bright green mosses, a variety of delicate and colorful flowers, particularly the yellow marsh (bog) saxifrage, various mushrooms, fungi, clear bubbling streams and small tarns. Tiny (micro) flowers such as Mouse Ears grow in Spitsbergen creating faerie like mossy rock gardens. Look for polar bears hunting on pack ice. You may get to explore this beautiful terrain on foot, marveling at the contrast between the colorful soft ground and the barren, rocky terrain from further north. Reindeer antlers lie scattered along the ground. If conditions allow pass through the narrow Hinlopen Strait. The strait is flanked by creamy colored slabs of rock that are rich in fossils. You may visit Alkefjellet where a series of one-hundred-meter-high dolerite towers are home to nearly a million nesting Bru?nnich’s guillemots – the penguins of the north – that occupy every available nook and cranny. Elsewhere seek out eider ducks and geese, and hope to spot walrus, Arctic fox and the beautiful ivory gulls.
Cruise west across the Greenland Sea – the main outlet of the Arctic Ocean – where you may encounter whales feeding in the productive waters of the north. Sightings of fin whales are common and blue whales have been seen in more recent years. As you begin to approach Greenland you may encounter the East Greenland pack ice, and if lucky see polar bears hunting for prey. The strong icy currents have isolated East Greenland from the Polar Basin, attracting large numbers of fish, seals and whales. Climatic conditions and the concentration of ice in the vicinity often create thick morning fog that vanishes with the onset of the midday sun. The ship's experts will inform and entertain with fascinating discussions on plants, animals, ice, and early explorers like Nansen, Andree and Scoresby. Conditions permitting, there may be a chance for kayakers to launch their sea kayaks and everyone else to cruise in the sea ice with Zodiacs. Perhaps if this ship had a good crossing, there may even be the opportunity to make your first landing on the Greenland coast, weather permitting. This stretch of coastline is ripe for exploration, with its many secrets locked in place by drift ice for up to eight months each year. Home to polar bear, snowy owl and musk ox, it's the world's largest national park, covering 972,000 square kilometers; most of which is inland ice and the rest a composite fjord landscape.
Attempt to enter Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, a remote and rarely visited fjord system with countless opportunities for exploration within the Northeast Greenland National Park. Cruising through Kong Oskar Fjord, marvel at the geological beauty of the mountains and land in a few places to explore the landscape and wildlife of Greenland. Head south along the coast of Liverpool Land, with passage dependent on ice conditions. Aim to reach Scoresbysund, the world’s largest fjord and a favorite hunting ground of the local Inuit. Massive glaciers dump into this fjord, the birthplace of the famous big Greenland icebergs. The hope is to visit the remote Inuit community of Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresby Town) and to hike across the tundra in search of ancient graveyards and summer villages occupied 3,000 years ago by Paleo-Eskimos. This area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking in its maze of calm, interconnecting waterways. Keep a sharp eye out for musk oxen, Arctic hare and seals, and maybe if very lucky even a polar bear or narwhal. Scoresbysund offers many opportunities for walking, cruising, and kayaking so the days are spent exploring the land, the ice and the sea. Other landings along the coast may include:
A beautiful point on Ymer Island. There is a good chance to take a tundra walk and witness musk oxen grazing. Keep a lookout for Arctic fox and ptarmigan. A lone trapper's hut looks over the bay and magnificent icebergs.
An important site for paleo-eskimoes and more modern trappers, it is a great opportunity to walk in the tundra with musk oxen or Arctic hare to a spectacular overlook onto Lake Noa which is pink with fine sediments.
Adorns the narrow and peaked waterway in Alpefjord. Zodiac cruise (and kayak) around the snout of the glacier and deeper into the fjord behind. Return along magnificent cliffs that are festooned with small colorful gardens of Arctic flowers growing wherever water is available. Ittoqqortoormiit is Scoresbysund’s colorful Inuit community of approximately 500 people. Feel free to explore the village, fascinating museum or sit quietly in the beautiful Lutheran Church. The people are friendly, and the young children vie for your attention from underneath their Arctic fox-fur jackets. Sydkap in Scoresbysund offers good walking and delightful views up Øfjord and into Hall Brednung. Kayakers will have good opportunities to explore the lonely beaches. Explore the ancient gravesites on shore, or nearby giant icebergs that offer hours of enjoyment for kayak and Zodiac excursions.
One of the most remarkable collections of beautiful icebergs in the world. A combination of shallows near the island and tidal currents strand hundreds of large iceberg in a small area around Røde Ø, or Red Island. The contrast between the magnificent blue of the ice and the red sandstone landscape is breathtaking.
Other possible landing points in the area include:
Rømer Fjord, Rypefjord, Ø Fjord, Fonfjord, Bjornøya, Milne Land, Hekla Havn, Denmark Island, Nordvestfjord and Eskimobugt.
In the Denmark Strait, sail towards Iceland. Keep a lookout for whale blows and the many seabirds that trail the ship in the ever present Arctic winds. Enjoy the time to reflect on your recent adventures, share and exchange photos, and soak in the fresh ocean air. As you near Iceland, encounter fishing vessels working the coastal waters.
During the early morning, arrive into Reykjavik. Farewell your expedition team and fellow expeditioners as you continue your journey. A transfer is included into town or to the airport.
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 at a minimum coverage of $250,000. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions. Insurance should cover personal accident and medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, baggage loss, and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.
Exploration by kayak is an ideal way to surround yourself in the sights and sounds of the Arctic - paddling among icebergs and brash ice, observing wildlife in an unobtrusive manner. Some kayak excursions may be long in duration and on choppy water, so a reasonable level of kayaking experience is required to participate in this activity. Fee required to participate. Please contact ExpeditionTrips to book.
Explore the remote and rugged summits of East Greenland, scaling sheer granite cliffs and glacial remnants in pursuit of breathtaking views of Scoresbysund’s ice-filled fjords. Experienced climbers will relish the chance to explore up and along the rarely-scaled peaks that dominate the landscape. And when you reach the top? A view that few people on earth will have ever laid eyes on! This unique opportunity to add a thrilling climbing experience to your expedition cruise is one not to be missed. Strap on your boots, clip on your carabiners and join an incredible climbing adventure.
Transfer from airport to ship if on group flights; half day tour of Kirkenes on day 1 prior to embarkation; transfer from ship to airport or downtown Reykjavik on disembarkation day; shipboard accommodations; printed photo book from your voyage (post voyage, one per booking); gear to keep (expedition jacket); gear on loan (boots); all meals onboard ship; house wines, beers, and soft drinks with dinner onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; passport and visa expenses; optional activity supplements; alcohol and beverages not mentioned as included; items of a personal nature such as Wi-Fi, laundry service, spa charges, medical expenses; required travel insurance; excess baggage charges; airport arrival or departure taxes; gratuities (NOTE: Gratuities for crew will automatically be added to your bill. Please advise at the time of settlement if you would like this to be removed); fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos ©: Michael Baynes (icebergs, kayakers, puffin, Zodiac cruising); Lenka Gondova (fox); Carole O'Neill (walrus); Mark Perraton (polar bear); Raymond Perraton (seal)