Everything about Greenland is big: it’s the largest and oldest Island on our planet. With most of the Island covered in an enormous Ice cap it’s the coast where the maritime influences combine with incredible glacial scenery to offer ‘big’ experiences. Even the names follow the ‘big’ theme, Qeqertarsuaq translates literally as ‘large island’ in the local inuit language. After the main landmass of Greenland, this is the territory’s second largest island and one of the ten largest islands on earth. In addition to enormous fjords, glaciers and icebergs Greenland also has great historic and geological interest. Eric the Red, the 9th century Norse Viking, is believed to have visited here using the location as a base for hunting, fishing and exploration. Keeping with the theme and one of the wonders of the world the Jacobshavn Icefjord – a UNESCO World Heritage site – spews gigantic tabular icebergs out into Disko Bay. The glacier that creates these enormous bergs advances at over 40 meters per day, creating something in the order of 50 cubic kilometers of ice each year.
Whilst dwarfed by it’s northern neighbour Iceland offers a great contrast with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields. Massive glaciers are protected in Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull national parks. Iceland’s bird life is excellent, being a little further south than Greenland, there is greater variety of seabirds including large colonies of puffins. Iceland shares its Viking history with southern Greenland.
Uncharted fjords, glaciers, towering mountains and icebergs are the backdrop for your adventure in East Greenland. This area is great for hiking to elevated points with excellent views of the fjords below.
Glaciers, ice flows, mountains, remote villages, sea birds and whales are what you can expect in West Greenland. Some of the most remote villages on earth dot the west Greenland coastline and are stepped in tradition. As Greenland is covered by an icecap, Inuit villages are only accessible by sea or sled. Filled with culture and smiling faces, the Inuit communities share their way of life with visitors happily inviting guests to try local delicacies such as seal, whale and puffin and taste the water from natural springs. With dramatic mountainous backdrops and colourful houses these villages offer some incredible photographic opportunities. As you walk through the streets you will hear the sled dogs howling to each other awaiting their next sled adventure with great anticipation.
Greenland boasts many exceptional glaciers and ice flows. The Ilulissat Glacier, a UNESCO site located on the west coast of Greenland, is believed to be the birthplace of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. The glaciers and ice flows of Greenland are so enormous they dwarf the visiting ships, and guests often have the opportunity to hike up beside the glaciers to appreciate the spectacular views.
Often referred to as ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’ Iceland offers vast contrasts. Active volcanoes provide geothermal energy and incredible landscapes whilst some of Europe’s biggest glaciers co-exist on the same island. Geysers give a spectacular display to visitors and huge waterfalls splash up at admirers. During the winter months the skies remain dark all day and night with the only relief the spectacular light show of the Aurora Borealis. Conversely during summer the sun does not set.
Iceland boasts interesting and delicious cuisine. Some menus you may find, whale, sheep’s head, fermented shark, horse steak and smoked puffin. They also offer exquisite dishes with more commonly used ingredients such as lamb and seafood.
Although they can be a bit shy, there are 15 species of whales that are found in the waters surrounding Greenland. Regular visitors in summer include the humpback, minke and fin whale.
Some sites don’t lend themselves to a physical landing or may be best seen from water level. Zodiacs (rubber inflatable boats) offer a safe way to explore and are an integral part of any day in Greenland.
Note: Please ensure you are adequately dressed as it can get cold; waterproof pants are essential
Most ships offer kayaking (for an additional cost) for up to 20 guests. It’s an incredible way to gain a very different perspective, with expert guides and a Zodiac close enough to offer assistance, yet far enough away not to disrupt the tranquillity. Occasionally, if you’re lucky, whales will come to investigate but don’t worry as the guides will form the kayaks into a ‘raft’ and you will enjoy a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Due to limited numbers please request your kayaking at time of booking your voyage.
These luxurious ships combine more traditional-style ‘cruising’ with an Antarctic adventure. They offer large, very comfortable cabins with en-suite facilities and many have private balconies. The experienced expedition team enable you to explore the Antarctic Peninsula with Zodiac dinghies and come home to an exquisite ship with superior comfort and excellent cuisine options.
Expedition ships have a greater emphasis on maximising time off the vessel or out on deck. The expedition team works closely with the ship’s captain and crew to get you out exploring on the Zodiac dinghies and on shore as much as possible. Most voyages also offer kayaking and sometimes camping. Cabins are simple and comfortable, the food excellent. The ships are stable, fast and manoeuvrable.