Summary : Boasting the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, West Greenland offers an adventure-filled experience that includes thrilling Zodiac cruises along gleaming ice-filled fjords, unbeatable photographic opportunities, and meeting friendly Inuit locals living in some of the world’s remotest and harshest environments. Affectionately known as the birthplace of icebergs, giant bergs are created from calving glaciers and are some of the largest on the planet. On this unforgettable voyage through one of the world’s most remote regions, you will discover Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, an Arctic metropolis with a small-town feel, where you can marvel at the mummies in the National Museum or learn about Inuit culture at the Nuuk Art Museum. Hiking trails reveal stunning vistas of the icebergs as they approach the bay. Kayakers will glide across gleaming waters teeming with whales, while being surrounded by towering fjords.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Triple/Quad Cabins
- Save up to 15% per person
- Solo travelers pay no single supplement
- Offers apply to select cabin categories
$8,100 to $12,700
Arrive in Greenland’s capital, Nuuk and transfer to the group hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
The northernmost capital in the world, Nuuk was founded in 1728 by the Norwegian missionary Hans Egede, and has more than 17,000 inhabitants. The center of Greenland lies at the mouth of its very own fjord system, on the mid-west coast of Greenland. The fjord system, is the second largest fjord system in the world.
On an introductory tour, discover Nuuk’s contrasting architecture from beautiful old buildings to colorful houses – one of Nuuk’s trademarks, with the brightly-colored houses providing a stark to the rocks or white winter snow. Stop by the newly renovated and roof-covered "braettet", where the day's catch of seal, birds and fish are sold. Other attractions in the town include the award-winning culture center Katuaq, City Hall, the cathedral from 1849, as well as the National Museum, located down by the colonial buildings at the old harbor, with a stunning view over the fjord. The museum was established in 1966 and became Greenland's National Museum and Archives, offering a unique ethnographical collection. Discover the famous mummies and costumes from Qilakitsoq in northwest Greenland, as well as the world’s oldest and almost complete intact skin boat the Pearyland Umiaq, whose well-preserved remains are estimated to date back to the 1470s.
After discovering Nuuk on city tour, embark the Greg Mortimer to commence your voyage.
Over the coming days, you will discover the immense beauty of West Greenland, and in true expeditionary style, the itinerary will be kept flexible as weather and sea ice determine the ship's course, what you do and see. Following are some of the places that you may visit.
Located north of Maniitsoq town, this beautiful fjord offers numerous glaciers, Zodiac cruises through bergy bits, mountainous landscapes and perhaps a chance to hike or kayak under Greenland’s impressive peaks.
Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut is the only place in Greenland that has an open-air public swimming pool and the town is famous for the old blue church with the gate made of whale jaws, which is located next to the cozy little museum, featuring a reconstruction of an Inuit turf house. Sisimiut offers hiking trails with various degrees of difficulty. The easier trails take you through town itself and its outskirts as well as into the mountains, where you will find spectacular vantage points.
Sisimiut is located approximately 54 kilometers/33.5 miles north of the Arctic Circle, meaning that during summer, you can experience midnight sun in here. Approximately 4,500 years ago, the Saqqaq culture arrived from Canada and settled in the area. They lived here for about 2,000 years, after which they mysteriously disappeared from the town. The Dorset culture arrived around 500 AD and stayed until the 1200s until they were replaced by the Thule culture, and today, the majority of the population of Sisimiut are descendants of the Thule culture.
The museum in Sisimiut allows you to experience local history as well as some exhibits of early life in Greenland. The town also has Taseralik Arts Centre, where you can experience concerts, plays, films and much more, and its café offers a great view.
Palasip Qaqqaa – The Priest Mountain
Duration: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: The hike is steep in parts so a reasonable amount of fitness is required. The hike is along a pathway.
Important: the weather can change quickly so bring a light jacket. Hiking boots are necessary and mosquito repellent is strongly recommended.
The Priest Mountain is perhaps one of the more challenging hikes offered to cruise expeditioners visiting Greenland, Palasip Qaqqaa is a 550 meters / 1,805 feet high mountain a few kilometers from downtown Sisimiut. The tour begins at the harbor where you are transported by bus to the starting point of the hike.The first part of the hike is along a small river with fresh drinking water, so remember a drinking bottle. During the hike you will see the local flora, perhaps encounter foxes, grouse and eagles are also present. If you’re lucky you might even come across musk oxen. Throughout the hike, you will be rewarded with stunning views of Sisimiut and at the top, there is a fantastic view of town and the surrounding fjords and the sea.
Renowned for mountainous icebergs drifting from one of the most productive glaciers in the northern hemisphere and out into the Disko Bay, the mindblowing Ilulissat Icefjord is a short distance south of town and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. It is home of one of the most actively calving glaciers in the world, Sermeq Kujalleq (also known as Jacobshavn glacier). Sermeq Kujalleq produces about 20 million tonnes of ice each day, all floating into the Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay. Ilulissat is the third largest town municipality in Greenland with more than 5,000 inhabitants.
Ilulissat Glacier is the most productive glacier, not only in Greenland, but in the northern hemisphere. The glacier is seven kilometers wide and more than a kilometer high. It produces 43 million tonnes of ice and moves about 50 meters /164 feet a day. It is an amazing sight to see this enormous amount of ice and experience the awe-inspiring power of nature.
Conditions permitting, enjoy a Zodiac cruise at the mouth of the fjord and kayak through sea ice and icebergs. More than 40 million ton of ice flows out into the fjord 24 hours a day, resulting in gigantic icebergs that can be in excess of 100 meters on each side with a height of more than 100 meters above the water surface. These giants often become stranded at the end of the fjord, providing excellent opportunities to sail among them - an exceptional experience and certainly a highlight for many visitors to West Greenland.
Hiking in Greenland generally is mostly done on rugged unmarked tracks. However, in Ilulissat there are a few well-marked routes that take you along the Icefjord. An easy hike to the old settlement at the Icefjord takes about 30-45 minutes from the centre of town, leading to a fantastic spot at the edge of the Icefjord where a former settlement was situated. The route to the edge has a walkway and when you reach the edge of the icefjord you can walk up a little hill for an even more breathtaking view. However, a moderate level of fitness and balance is required to summit the small hill as the terrain is rugged.
Optional Helicopter Flight:
This excursion is the only way you can get close to the gigantic glacier. The 10-seater helicopter takes off from Ilulissat Airport and flies as low as safely possible, crossing hills, lakes and ice fjords. We land on the mountain at Kangia, in the middle of the preserved area, and for 30 minutes, you can revel in the incredible surroundings. We fly above the edge of the glacier and the icebergs in the fjord on the ride back to Ilulissat. Some of the biggest icebergs strand on a moraine underneath the water just outside the town, and it makes a wonderful finale to this excursion.
Duration: Approximately 90 minutes
Price: From $550 per person
Eqip Sermia (calving glacier):
Accessible only by sea, Eqi Glacier is located north of Ilulissat. It’s one of the most active glaciers in Greenland. Although it’s smaller than Sermeq Kujalleq glacier in Ilulissat, it’s more accessible, and if ice conditions permit, Zodiac cruise within safe distance, wait for chunks of ice to calve, and hear the deafening crash of the ice breaking off followed by the huge splash when it hits the water – an experience you won’t soon forget. Land the Zodiacs on a moraine and walk close to the glacier.
The Inland Ice Sheet:
The sheet is made of snow and when densely packed, it becomes ice. This procedure puts pressure on the air between the snow flakes and results in air bubbles. When the glacier calves, the air is released and this is what creates the explosion-like sounds. The oxygen-rich ice is a food resource for many animals; cormorants, guillemots, kittiwakes and the rare praise gull is often seen nearby. Seals often live in the ice in front of the glacier and the great eagle can be spotted in the area. You may also come across grouse, hare and small arctic fox.
Greenland’s largest island, it lies in the middle of Disko Bay and can be reached in a day’s sailing. The island is different from the rest of Greenland due to its volcanic origin. The landscape is characterized by red-tinged basalt mountains, verdant hilltops, and interesting rock figures.
Well-known for its beautiful nature, abundant flora and interesting geology, it is home to the “Arctic Station” which is the oldest manned field station in the arctic region. The Arctic Station conducts arctic research on bio and geo-related issues. If lucky, staff from the station may come aboard and speak with you about their work.
With about 850 residents, Qeqertarsuaq was founded in 1773 and is beautifully located by Disko Bay The town is on a peninsula and has a natural harbor. From spring to autumn, the area around Disko Island becomes a meeting ground for large whales such as bowhead and humpback – a perfect place for kayaking and Zodiac cruising for possible encounters. Being located nearer to the Arctic Circle, during the summer months, you will see the midnight sun in Qeqertarsuaq, an experience that you won’t have south of Sisimiut.
Surrounded by steep islands, and an endless supply of icebergs from the Qarajaq Glacier, Uummannaq (meaning “heart-like”) is the centerpiece of an archipelago where everyday hunting and fishing life plays out in the middle of one of nature’s grandest creations in Greenland. As you wander the town, watch out for the colorful local houses that are so emblematic of Greenland. Uummannaq is also a great place for Zodiac cruising to explore the coastline, kayaking and hiking.
With a name that translates to the Springtime Place, the town has long been associated with Inuit traditions of ice fishing and hunting for sea mammals. The bay is dotted with hundreds of islands, and is home to the world's largest bird cliffs at Apparsuit, and an open-air museum revealing colonial and Viking histories. See islands interspersed with icebergs stretching off into the distance as you kayak or sail around the waterways, and if conditions permit traverse the mesmerizing waters of the Upernavik Icefjord.
As you sail back south to Nuuk, keep a lookout for whale blows and the seabirds that trail the ship in the ever-present Arctic winds. Enjoy the time to reflect on your recent adventures in Greenland, share and exchange photos, and soak in the spectacular scenery of West Greenland.
Arrive back in Nuuk where you disembark and farewell your crew. Transfer 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.
Transfer from Nuuk airport to hotel; one pre-voyage hotel night in Nuuk; half-day tour of Nuuk before embarkation; transfer from ship to airport 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 ©: Shelley Fry