Baffin Island and West Greenland

Baffin Island and West Greenland

Cinzia Muccante – Arctic Travel Centre

In August 2016, I fulfilled a long held wish to visit the High Arctic; joining the expedition vessel Akademik Sergey Vavilov on a 10-night voyage, starting in Iqaluit – Canada. From there, my voyage explored the wild and remote coastline of southern Baffin Island, before crossing to the ice filled waters of western Greenland. We start the journey with a three hour flight from Canada’s elegant capital city of Ottawa to Iqaluit in the Canadian High Arctic. It’s not long before I’ve donned all my warm clothing and climbed into a zodiac (which soon becomes part of our daily routine for exploring). On one of my first zodiac cruises we witnessed thousands of Harp seals laid out on a large ice flow – according to one of naturalist guides this was a rare occurrence. Not only was it rare it was also good news with regards to the chance of seeing Polar bear.

Icebergs in bay Baffin Island

After many hours of searching, finally, in the distance, my very first polar bear! Sightings apparently vary from trip to trip (and I have to admit I was a little envious when I heard the next voyage got to see 10 bears). After our incredible day of navigation, the encounter with the seals and polar bear, we cruised into the dramatic Sunneshine Fjord. Next stop is Greenland. Our run of gorgeous weather continues – and we launch the zodiacs to cruise around several low lying islands. The rocky outcrops are covered in tens of thousands of nesting seabirds(guillemots & black-legged kittiwakes). Whilst I was in a zodiac, several of my fellow expeditioners selected to kayak (pre booked), they were the first to announce the arrival of several humpback whales, feeding in the icy waters. I wake to the news that whales can be seen from all quarters of the ship. The entire ship was very excited as it was announced we would take the opportunity to launch the zodiacs and spend more time with the whales, which we sound found out were Fin whales (not humpbacks of the previous day), the second largest creature on the planet, after the Blue whale. The following morning, we are at anchor near the town of Illulisat. We’re all excited as a cruise in the giant iceberg field in front of Sermeq Kujalleq glacier is one of life’s, and now my, great experiences. The glacier that creates these icy giants, is the world’s most active – moving more than 30 metres per day. Over 50 cubic kilometers of ice is released annually into the Davis Strait. Imagine for a moment, pieces of ice, the size of 10 story office buildings – as far as the eye can see. Next many of us take a wonderful hike, along a boardwalk to a viewing platform, which overlooks the vast ice field. For many, including me, this moment is the highlight of the voyage. No pictures can do it justice.

Polar Bear Arctic

Returning to the ship, stopping for photos of the ice cap, glaciers and moraines in the setting sun, we spot Greenland deer and musk ox feeding on the summer pastures. We enjoy a special celebration dinner on our final night of the voyage. The expedition team provide an entertaining and memorable re-cap of our 10 days of exploration. From Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, we board a special charter flight that takes us back where our journey began – Ottawa. This expedition ship is a fabulous and practical way to discover the remote High Arctic. The ship becomes a floating ‘wilderness lodge’ (whilst it’s not luxurious, the cabins are comfortable and warm). The guides are excellent providing just the right amount of information, education and interpretation. A great menu is prepared by an experienced team of chefs in the galley. The ‘expedition’ really refers to more time being spent off the ship – exploring. If you would like to find out more about this voyage, and others like it (including the celebrated North West Passage) – please call to discuss your plans and ideas.

Cinzia Greenland Ice Flow

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