The Arctic coastlines offer some of the finest scenery and wildlife experiences in the world. Visitors to the region can witness enormous colonies of seabirds thronging the cliffs and shores, and enjoy the thrilling antics of whales and dolphins at sea and seals and Walrus hauled out on the rocks and ice floes. The lucky may even encounter the very symbol of the Arctic - the Polar Bear. Though remote and sparsely populated today, many of the places we explore have been inhabited in the last 5000 years, and thousands of unique prehistoric and historic sites are a testimony to the thriving cultures of the past. Greenland and its surrounding waters are home to an impressive array of wildlife: eight species of whale, two million seals, Walruses, Polar Bears, Reindeer, Musk Oxen, Arctic Hares, Arctic Wolves and a spectacular variety of birds. The largest island in the world, 90% of its surface area is covered by ice and it is inhabited by less then 100.000 people, though with a fascinating history and culture.
Our voyages focus on East and Northeast Greenland, among the most isolated, sparsely populated and scenically superb parts of the island. Fortunately, from the wildlife enthusiast's point of view, they are also the most rewarding regions with regular sightings of Musk Oxen, Arctic Hares, Narwhals and a variety of birds, including Gyrfalcon, Snowy Owl, Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese. Access to this highly indented and ruggedly mountainous coast is dependent on ice conditions. For much of the year, the region is locked in by pack ice, which by late summer has broken up sufficiently to allow vessels such as ours the chance to penetrate and explore.
Day 1: Akureyri. On Board the Professor Multanovskiy or Professor Molchanov. Arrive at Akureyri airport and make the short transfer to the small port of the same name to join the ship. In the early evening we leave Iceland and sail west towards the Denmark Strait.
Day 2: At Sea
At sea, sailing north through the Denmark Strait. This is a good area for spotting the Blue Whales, the largest animal ever to have lived on Earth, who feed here during the summer months. It is believed that there are just 600 or so of these magnificent whales (out of a world population of around 6,000) in the North Atlantic. We may also see Orcas (Killer Whales), and are almost certain to encounter Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Gannets and rafts of Common Guillemots and Razorbills. We cross the Arctic Circle and continue north, perhaps seeing White-beaked Dolphins, Humpback Whales and Minke Whales, each species instantly recognized by the shape and size of its blow.
Day 3: At Sea
In the morning we sail along the ragged and glaciated Volquart Boons Coast, Here we may organize a zodiac cruise along one of the glacier fronts of this coast, and have our first landing near a glacier, like Maanegletsjer or in Vikingebugt. Later we land on Danmarks O where there are the remains of an Inuit settlement abandoned around 200 years ago. The circular "tent rings" of stones indicate the summer houses, while the winter houses can be seen closer to a small cape. The sites are excellently preserved, allowing entrances and even bear-proof meat caches to be identified. There are also grave sites. In the evening we continue our sailing through the beautiful fjords to the west, choked with ice-bergs.
Day 4: At Sea
We go ashore at Cape Hofmann Halvo¸, a reliable spot for viewing Musk Oxen. We may also spot Rock Ptarmigans and at sea Great Northern Divers. The landscape here is particularly beautiful, especially during autumn when the Dwarf Willow and Dwarf Birch change color. Arctic Blueberry and Crowberry add their own colorful touch - the berries are tasty too! Later, during a Zodiac cruise, we will come close to huge icebergs and may also see Ringed Seals, as well as distant views of Musk Oxen on shore. In the evening we sail through the fjord towards Scoresby Land, hoping to see Narwhals and enjoying the contrast between the warm autumnal colors of the vegetation on shore, backed by huge dark mountains, and the cold blue of the icebergs.
Day 5: At Sea
On our way to Sydkap in Scoresby Land in the morning, we encounter huge icebergs, some over 100 m high and more than a kilometer in length. Most of the bergs are grounded as the fjord is only about 400 m deep here. We land near Sydkap to view the remains of the Thule culture winter houses. As many as 20 people lived in these tiny houses, hunting Greenland Whales and using their vertebrae to build the houses. We may also land at Gurreholm on Jameson Land. The landscape here is gently undulating, but the climate is harsh - sometimes snow lies throughout the summer - but some animals - Musk Oxen and Collared Lemmings - survive on the meager vegetation. The lemmings are preyed upon by Long-tailed Skua, Snowy Owl and Arctic Fox.
Day 6: Illoqqortoormiut. We land in Illoqqortoormiut, the biggest settlement near Scoresby Sund with about 500 inhabitants. At the post office you can buy stamps for your postcards, or just wander around to see the sledge dogs and the drying skins of seals, Musk Ox and Polar Bear. After lunch we will sail south, passing the amazing landscape of the Blosseville Coast where groups of Harp Seals can be spotted among the ice floes.
Day 7: At Sea
We continue along the Blosseville Coast with wonderful views of snow covered peaks - these are the highest mountains of Greenland, some of them reaching over 3000m. At the mouth of Nansen Fjord we spot Gunnbjorns Fjeld, at 3700m: it is both the highest peak in Greenland and also the highest mountain north of the Arctic Circle. Next we sail into Mikis Fjord, bounded by steep cliffs. The fjord is a good place to spot Narwhal, Polar Bear, Ringed Seals and Harp Seals. At Sodalen at the head of Mikis Fjord we land in a marshy delta. There are good populations of both Common and Arctic Redpolls, as well as a chance of seeing flocks of Barnacle Geese and Pink-footed Geese.
Day 8: At Sea
In the morning, we head south for Kangerlussuaq fjord where glaciers reach the sea creating a fabulous landscape of glacier fronts, icebergs and cliffs. On shore there are the remains of dwellings of Thule culture people. The fjord is also a good place to see Polar Bears and Ivory Gulls. We conclude the day with a Zodiac trip to Skaergordshalvo¸, a popular summer hunting ground for the people of Ammassalik. Most years a number of families arrive here in early summer and stay until the end of the hunting season and we might be able to meet them. In the afternoon we will sail south-east towards the Denmark Strait.
Day 9: At Sea. The whole day at sea offers excellent opportunities to see large whales and seabird migration and, at night the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
Day 10: Keflavik. Arrive in Keflavik, and transfer to the airport for the flight home.
Note: All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions and in order to take advantage of opportunities to see wildlife. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
Please inquire for different cabin rates.
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