This Ponant itinerary is your chance to embark on an 8-day expedition cruise to Greenland. In Kangerlussuaq, aboard L’Austral, you will embark for an unforgettable journey in the heart of the most magnificent Arctic landscapes.
|Day 1||Kangerlussuaq||Fly from Paris for your embarkation in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland|
|Day 2||Sisimiut||Discover Sisimiut, the second largest town in Greenland full of colourful stilt houses and beautiful landscapes|
|Day 3||Paul-Emile Victor Base Camp, Eqi Glacier||Greenland was described by Paul Émile Victor as “the most beautiful place in the Arctic” explore one of the most impressive sights on offer- the Eqi Glacier|
|Day 4||Akulleq & Uummannaq||Explore this small desert island and it’s magical landscape. View the heart shaped rock which inspired the name and village of Uummannaq where you will experience incredible hospitality.|
|Day 5||Disko Bay||Discover Disko Bay, scattered with icebergs and the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Day 6||Disko Bay, Kuannit Coast, Qeqertarsuaq, Kitsissuarsuit||Be mesmerised by volcanic cliffs, small villages and an abundance of wildlife|
|Day 7||Evighedsfjorden||Explore this beautiful scenery which translates to the Fjord of Eternity|
|Day 8||Kangerlussuaq||Disembark where you started and farewell your fellow travellers and new found friends|
L’Austral (200 guests) was launched in May, 2011 and is a sister ship to Le Boreal and Le Soleal. She features 132 staterooms offering elegant design as well innovative state-of-the-art marine technology. The vessel boasts a convenient layout, aided by three passenger elevators. She offers a single seating dining room, al fresco dining, an outdoor heated pool, and a modern lecture facility and theatre, as well as an ample and comfortable gathering area and library.
From 1941 to 1992, the town of Kangerlussuaq in Greenland was home to an American military base. Nowadays, thanks to its international airport, it has become a transit point for travellers seeking adventure in the Far North. Located to the north of the Arctic Circle, this town is the starting point of magnificent discoveries surrounded by unspoiled nature. Indeed, just a few dozen kilometres from there it is possible to get close to the Greenland ice sheet, the largest body of ice in the Northern Hemisphere. From Kangerlussuaq, admire also the superb landscapes of tundra in autumnal colours, where Arctic hares, musk oxen, Arctic foxes, reindeer, falcons and eagles live.
During your cruise discover Sisimiut, founded in 1756 and the second largest town in Greenland. This small town is typical of Greenland, boasting bewitching panoramas: here and there, colourful stilt houses dot the undulating landscape, and the small fishing port stands as the gateway to an icy realm. As for the town centre, it is home to a number of historic buildings, a small church and a museum which retraces the history of the Inuit people, as well as many craft shops. When your ship drops anchor here, you will set out to meet the locals in a typically arctic atmosphere.
“The most beautiful place in the Arctic” is how Paul-Émile Victor described Greenland, a land of great table icebergs and of towering ice formations calved by the giant glaciers of the polar ice cap. The Eqi Glacier is one of the region’s most impressive sights. Here, the silence is broken only by the roaring and cracking of the ice. It is impossible to know if one is shivering from cold or from the sheer thrill of being here… Imagine the vast outline of a glacier, its translucent crystals glowing with an ice-blue fire in the sunlight. Paul-Émile Victor’s shelter cannot be overlooked; it was from here that the French Polar Expeditions’ anthropological and geographic explorations set off in the 1950s.
In the curve of Uummannaq Bay, opposite a narrow passage between two islands, you will discover the moonscape of the small desert island of Akulleq. The ochre yellow and orange of this mineral site will look ablaze under the sunshine of the polar summer. From the island’s summit you will be able to contemplate a panoramic view of the bay’s magical landscape and its huge icebergs with surprising shapes.
The “heart-shaped” rock overlooking it is what inspired the name of the island and village of Uummannaq, where the locals will welcome you with their incredible sense of hospitality and humour, essential to their survival in these northern lands. Seven Inuit villages also dot this territory where people still get around on dog sleighs or in kayaks. Mingling tradition, respect for nature and modernity, the authentic and lively atmosphere that reigns nowadays in this region inhabited since the 15th century will win over visitors, as will the magnificent landscapes that compose it, a mix of peninsulas and of peaks standing more than 2,000 metres tall.
To the east of Baffin Bay, discover Disko Bay, scattered with countless icebergs produced by the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From your ship, admire the majestic ballet of these ice giants as they slowly drift across the dark waters. This site is a natural marvel of Greenland, and is also renowned as an observation point for the region’s many humpback whales. The encounters with wild fauna and stunning landscapes in the heart of this spectacular and fragile nature will be pure moments of wonder for you.
Opposite Ilulissat, sailing for a few hours between the majestic icebergs of Disko Bay will allow you to reach the southern coast of the large Disko Island and admire the fields of angelica and the spectacular sculptures formed by the huge volcanic cliffs of Kuannit, where numerous sea birds find refuge. Combining glaciers, snow-capped peaks, flowery valleys, lakes, beaches and volcanic formations, the island’s exceptionally lush environment has inspired local beliefs. The island is believed to have a legendary and distant origin: it is said to have been towed back from the country’s south by fishermen in kayaks, fastened to “the hair of a child”.
On the southern coast of Disko Island lies Qeqertarsuaq, one of just two small villages on this island the size of Corsica. Its isolation makes it an observation post popular among naturalists since the beginning of polar exploration and the set-up, in 1906, of the Arctic Centre research facility. This site is a natural marvel of Greenland, and is renowned as an observation point for the region’s many humpback whales. The possible encounters with wildlife and stunning landscapes in the heart of this spectacular and fragile natural environment will be moments of sheer wonder for you, particularly from the top of the Lyngmark Glacier, which offers breathtaking views of the stunning and varied landscapes of Disko Bay and Disko Island.
The Dutch were the first to come and hunt whales on this island they called “isle of dogs” – Kitissuarsuit in Greenlandic. Indeed, when they arrived there in the summertime, the inhabitants had left the island, leaving behind their dogs, and moved to the neighbouring fjords for a season of fishing. Kitissuarsuit is considered to be the larder of the small town of Aasiaat, which is further away from the fishing areas, and the villagers still live self-sufficiently thanks to the marine resources, while trying to keep their age-old traditions alive.
Your ship glides slowly along the water towards the west coast of Greenland, to enter Evighedsfjorden, just a few kilometres south of Kangerlussuaq. Evighedsfjorden means “the fjord of Eternity”, and for good reason: just when you think you’ve reached the end of this stretch of sea measuring over 100 kilometres in length, it seems to go on forever, as though to bring even more pleasure to those sailing in it. The spectacular scenery ranges from glaciers to tundra with an abundant flora, and jagged cliffs where numerous bird species have taken up residence. Take the time to observe the white-tailed eagles and the colonies of seagulls and black-legged kittiwakes flying overhead in the area.
After an incredible 8 days on board, disembark where your adventure started in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Step off the ship early in the morning and farewell your new friends and the expedition team. In the afternoon board your return flight from Kangerlussuaq back to Paris.