Summary : From impressive icebergs to iconic wildlife to traditional Inuit culture and more, this expedition gives you a generous sampling of four unique Arctic regions. This voyage is ideal for first-time visitors who want a taste of everything the Arctic has to offer. Beginning in Norway, your adventure takes you to Spitsbergen, renowned for its stunning scenery and abundant, varied wildlife such as polar bears and walruses. From there, sail south to mysterious, volcanic Jan Mayen, a nature reserve so remote that few have been fortunate to explore it. Then, venture to Greenland’s east coast, cruising deep into Scoresby Sund to discover the world’s largest fjord system and icebergs larger than you could ever imagine. Finally, to cap off an epic expedition, you’ll sail under the midnight sun to Reykjivik, where you'll disembark in the city that never sleeps.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Your Arctic voyage begins in Oslo, Norway’s vibrant capital city. If you arrive early, there are many museums, restaurants and green spaces to keep you busy before retiring at your airport hotel.*
*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.
In the morning, your group will transfer to the airport and board a private charter flight* to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen's largest settlement. As you embark this afternoon, you'll enjoy great views of the mountainous landscape that serves as a backdrop for this seaside town.
*See Additional Costs for mandatory transfer package information.
Exploring Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago, rewards you with abundant wildlife and austere beauty. Here, you’ll visit spectacular glacier fronts and steep-walled fjords, with walrus, polar bears and Svalbard reindeer among your possible wildlife sightings. Birders will be thrilled to see Arctic terns, skuas, long-tailed ducks, kittiwakes, and ivory gulls. If conditions permit, you could sail within 10 degrees of the North Pole!
While sailing south through the historic Greenland Sea toward Jan Mayen, your expedition team will keep you informed with presentations about the history and politics of the Arctic, its fascinating wildlife, geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. On deck, you’ll learn to identify seabirds “on the wing.” The team will also keep a lookout for the whales that frequent the waters here.
North of the Arctic Circle, about 280 miles east of Greenland and 340 miles north of Iceland, is the mysterious Jan Mayen, deep in the North Atlantic Ocean. Often shrouded in thick fog, the small mountainous island was declared a nature reserve in 2010 and is rarely visited, save for the 18 rotating personnel of the Norwegian military and Norwegian Meteorological Institute who are its only inhabitants.
Landing here will be dictated by the weather and sea. If conditions allow, keep watch on deck upon approach as the spoon-shaped island’s highest summit emerges. At 7,470-feet high, the breathtaking Beerenberg volcano features a symmetrical cone shape and impressive glaciers that spill into the sea.
If you're fortunate, you may view the volcano and the stratified cliffs of the spectacular north coast as you take a Zodiac cruise around the island searching for wildlife. Designated an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for its large numbers of breeding seabirds, Jan Mayen supports colonies of northern fulmars, little auks, glaucous gulls, kittiwakes, and black and Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres).
Your tour of Scoresby Sund—the largest, deepest and, some say, most beautiful multi-armed fjord system in the world—will offer plenty of opportunities to explore ashore or by Zodiac cruise. At one moment you’ll be stepping back in time, exploring the remains of ancient Thule settlements with views of icebergs and towering mountains rising straight out of the sea, and the next you’ll be immersed in contemporary culture, meeting the locals and gaining an appreciation for their way of life in Ittoqqortoormiit, East Greenland’s most remote community. At the mouth of the sound, this remote settlement boasts a blend of traditional and modern lifestyles and is actually closer to Iceland than it is to its nearest Greenlandic neighbors to the southwest. Here, you’ll have the chance to support local Inuit artisans by purchasing unique handicrafts.
In terms of wildlife, grazing muskoxen are a possible sight, as 40% of the world’s muskoxen population lives in this region. Polar bear sightings are a remote possibility, as are encounters with more elusive Arctic wildlife, such as the Arctic hare. Watch for seabirds nesting atop the steep cliffs of the sound, including little auks, fulmars, and guillemots.
As you cruise south, the Denmark Strait is your pathway toward Iceland. Take in a lecture, share your photos, sip an icy cocktail in the bar or watch a movie—there are many things to do during your time at sea. Your expedition team will also be on hand to answer any questions and point out wildlife.
You’ll disembark in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, at the end of your journey. If you've booked post-expedition accommodations, a transfer to a central downtown location is provided.
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.
Bilingual Departure: English/German
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
Due to the remoteness of the areas in this itinerary, travelers must carry a minimum $50,000 of emergency medical coverage. Proof of coverage is required prior to embarkation. The travel insurance policy should also cover trip cancellation insurance, trip delay, interruption or after departure coverage, baggage and repatriation. The shipping company will not be held responsible for delays due to force majeure. Any additional costs accrued will be the responsibility of the traveler. ExpeditionTrips strongly recommends that you select a travel protection plan that includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage and at least $200,000 in medical evacuation coverage. ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options. Other conditions may apply based on pre-existing conditions.
Pre-booking required. A small group of sea kayakers will plan to go out multiple times per voyage instead of shore landings. The number of opportunities to kayak is weather dependent and will only be conducted during calm conditions. Prior kayaking experience is required and you must have the capability to do a wet exit to participate. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. Beginners interested in kayaking should consider participating in the paddling excursions described below. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Pre-booking required. If you’re interested in kayaking but would like to try something less in-depth than the full kayaking program, you can still enjoy an on-water experience with a paddling excursion. Sign up for a one-time, one-hour paddle on a sit-on-top kayak, which is stable and unencumbered: perfect for anyone with little to no experience with kayaking. No experience necessary. Space is limited. Must be 16 years of age or older to participate. All sit-on-top kayaks are doubles. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details.
Transfer from Longyearbyen town center to port on embarkation day; group transfer to downtown Reykjavik on disembarkation day; shipboard accommodations; all shore landings per the daily program; all Zodiac transfers and cruising per the daily program; experienced Expedition Leader; formal and informal presentations by Expedition Team and special guests as scheduled; photographic journal; gear to keep (expedition parka and reusable water bottle); gear on loan (waterproof expedition boots for shore landings, walking poles); all meals on board ship; snacks, soft drinks, and juices on board; beer and house wine during dinner; coffee, tea, cocoa available around the clock; daily housekeeping; Greenland voyages cruise passenger tax; miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the program; luggage handling aboard ship; emergency evacuation insurance for all passengers to a maximum benefit of $500,000 per person*. Subject to change without notice.
Mandatory Transfer Package (see Additional Costs); international airfare; arrival transfer in Oslo; airport transfer in Reykjavik; passport and visa expenses; government arrival and departure taxes not mentioned above; any beverages not mentioned in inclusions; meals ashore unless otherwise specified; emergency medical coverage (required); baggage, cancellation, interruption and medical travel insurance (strongly recommended); excess baggage charges; mandatory waterproof pants for Zodiac cruising or any other gear not mentioned; laundry, bar, beverage, and other personal charges unless specified; phone and internet charges; voluntary gratuity at end of voyage for shipboard staff and crew; Adventure Options such as kayaking and paddling; additional overnight accommodation; fuel surcharge may apply.
*Emergency Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $500,000 is included in the cost of this expedition. Included coverage is applicable only while traveling with the shipping company between the first and last day of the expedition. Additional days of travel prior to the expedition and/or after the expedition, including pre- and post-packages/hotels/flights, purchased from the shipping company or from suppliers other than the shipping company, are not covered by the included emergency evacuation insurance. We strongly advise all passengers to purchase medical, cancellation and baggage insurance, and additional emergency evacuation coverage.
PHOTOS: © Sam Crimmin, © Acacia Johnson, © David Merron, © Nicky Souness © Quark Expeditions