Experience the vast wonders of Greenland, the world’s largest island, where jagged peaks piece the horizon, and glaciers wind their way towards the fjords. Visit ancient rocks at Skaergaard Peninsula dating back some 55 million years. Explore the arctic tundra in search of wildlife, tasting delicious wild berries along the way. Zodiac-cruise along spectacular sounds where ringed, harp and hooded seals laze on the sea ice. Watch Greenland’s enormous ice sheets carve icebergs creating fjords dotted with white as far as the eye can see, and encounter humpback and minke whales feeding in the nutrient-rich waters. Sail Prince Christian Sound, flanked by imposing mountains, as it carves its way through south Greenland where green pastures signal the presence of human settlement, and where the Viking ruins of Erik the Red still stand at Hvalsey. Weaving through the fjords and channels, enter west Greenland, the country’s most developed region, home to the nation’s capital, Nuuk, and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ilulissat Icefjord.
|Day 1||Reykjavik||Overnight Reykjavik|
|Day 2-3||Reykjavik||Spend the day exploring Reykjavik, embark in the afternoon and head towards Denmark Strait|
|Days 4-6||East Greenland||Kangerlussuaq Fjord, Tasiilaq - Sermilik Fjord, Skjoldungen Island|
|Days 7 - 9||South Greenland||Prince Christian Sound, Tasermiut Fjord, Klosterdal, Nanortalik, Hvalsey, Qaqortoq|
|Days 10-15||Greenland’s West Coast||Paamiut, Nuuk, Sisimuit, Illulissat Icefjord, Eqip Sermia, Eternity Fjord|
|Day 16||Kangerlussuaq||Disembark. Charter flight to Toronto Canada, overnight in hotel.|
|Day 17||Toronto, Canada||End of itinerary|
The Greg Mortimer is a new purpose built, polar expedition vessel taking 120 guests. This vessel has been designed in close consultation with Antarctic expedition specialists and is the first expedition cruise ship designed with the ULSTEIN X-BOW hull. This cutting edge nautical technology allows for gentle travel and motion at sea, improved comfort and safety on-board, reduced vibrations, lower fuel consumption and emissions and ‘virtual anchoring’ which means the ship can float anchor-less while launching the Zodiacs without disturbing delicate sea floor areas. There are four sea-level launching platforms for fast and efficient access to and from Zodiacs.
Arrive in Reykjavik, Iceland’s cosmopolitan capital, and transfer by Flybus to the group hotel. Enjoy a welcome drink and meet fellow expeditioners at the voyage briefing this evening. You may wish to visit one of the many excellent restaurants in Reykjavik. As the sun only sets for a few hours you will be able to explore the city in the extended daylight hours.
After checking out of your hotel you will be able to enjoy one of Reykjavik’s most popular excursions – the Golden Circle, which includes visits to Gullfoss Falls, Geysers, and Thingvellir National Park, before transferring to the pier for embarkation. After boarding, there’s time to settle into your cabin before our important safety briefings. This evening meet your expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
As the ship cruises across the Denmark Strait, your Expedition Team will give informative talks about the wildlife and storied history of Greenland, its fascinating geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. The expedition team will also keep watch for the seabirds you’ll likely see soaring above your ship, as well as the whales that can often be seen roaming the waters here.
Kangerlussuaq Fjord is home to some of the wildest coastal landscapes in all of Greenland. The peaks of Watkins Mountains featuring Gunnbjørnsfjeld—the highest peak in the Arctic, tower in the horizon. Hike across tundra to viewpoints of surrounding fjords, mountains, and glaciers, and enjoy gentle Zodiac cruises in icy bays offering unforgettable arctic scenery and wildlife encounters. Land on the Skaergaard Peninsula near the mouth of Kangerlussuaq Fjord. Here, the rocks show an unusual layering, formed by crystals settling in a magma chamber below the earth’s surface some 55 million years ago. Discovered in the 1930s, the Skaergaard Intrusion is known to geologists worldwide.
Overlooking King Oscar’s Harbour, Tasiilaq is east Greenland’s largest town with a population of approximately 2,000 inhabitants. Here, green meadows contrast starkly with countless icebergs that often clog the waterways at nearby Sermilik Fjord, the largest in southeast Greenland, where you will Zodiac-cruise and kayak to search for fin and humpback whales and photograph the spectacular scenery.
The journey continues south along Greenland’s King Frederik VI Coast, where the expedition team will be on the lookout for whales, especially the rare sperm whale that is occasionally seen here. Weaving through the narrow channels of Skjoldungen Fjord, land at the end of the fjord for a hike along a glacial river, across a tundra valley covered in northern willow and blooming pink wildflowers. Kayakers can paddle across the front of a tidewater glacier, search for harp seals, ivory gulls and whales. After a day of exploring, enjoy the stunning surrounds with a drink in hand basked in the soft light of the setting sun.
Prince Christian Sound connects the Labrador Sea with the Irminger Sea. Approximately 100 km long, and, in parts, as narrow as 500-m wide, the fjord is flanked by soaring mountain peaks, some reaching over 2,200 m high, with countless glaciers coming all the way down to the sea. This complex maze of narrow fjords and channels is fantastic for cruising on Zodiacs or by kayak or simply staying out on the deck of the ship to take in the spectacular scenery. Icebergs sculpted into unique shapes often bottleneck at the entrance to the sound, a great spectacle for photography. At Kangersuneq Qinngorleq located at the northern end of the fjord, a glacier front is another ideal place for a Zodiac cruise. In the southern section of the sound, pass a small settlement named Appilatoq, which means red in Greenlandic, after the red mountains rising above the town. Appilatoq is well-known in Greenland for the jagged mountain peaks that surround it—a delight for photographers.
The towering mountains surrounding Tasermiut Fjord is why it’s often referred to as the ‘Patagonia of the north’. At Klosterdal (Monastery Valley), you are surrounded by three giant mountains – Napasorsuaq, Ketil and Nalumasortoq. Here you can walk to a Norse ruin, hike along the valley, or explore the bay by kayak.
Continue to Nanortalik, the southernmost town in Greenland, located on an island of the same name. Its name derives from the West Greenlandic word ‘Nanoq’ meaning ‘The Place Where Bears Pass Through,’ describing the polar bears that were once seen floating past on sea ice. Deep fjords, woodlands and grasslands, and rugged mountainside cliffs, some over 1,000 m, attract enthusiastic climbers from around the world.
On arrival, you’ll receive a warm welcome from the local community who have opened up their town for you to explore. Nanortalik is a town that’s known for their love of singing and you’ll be treated to choir performance. Visit Nanortalik Church, a wooden, Danish Lutheran church built in 1916 and is currently the only church serving the Nanortalik congregation. The church is in the old colonial quarter of the town. Next to the church is a landmark boulder called the ‘Knud Rasmussen Stone,’ named after Greenland’s most famous citizen, Dr Knud Rasmussen, an explorer and ethnologist.
Hvalsey Church is the best-preserved Norse ruin in Greenland. ‘Hvalsey’ is old Norse for ‘Whale Island.’ Christianity arrived in Greenland around 1,000 AD and gradually churches began to be built. Late medieval documents indicate there were up to 14 parish churches in the Eastern Settlement. Hvalsey itself was built in the early 14th century, but it was not the first church built on this site.
After exploring Hvalsey ruins, continue to Qaqortoq, where our Zodiacs shuttle us ashore. Qaqortoq is the capital of south Greenland. With a history dating back to 1775, the town offers various cultural activities and attractions including an outdoor art project called “Man and Stone,’ which features stone carvings scattered throughout the town created by local artists. Qaqortoq is Greenland’s southernmost town and is the administrative centre of the south Greenland. Built from yellow stone, and dating back to 1804, the building that now houses the Qaqortoq Museum originally belonged to the town’s blacksmith. Qaqortoq’s landmark building is the Church of Our Saviour. This large wooden Lutheran church, known as the ‘Red Church’, is in the historic colonial part of town, near the harbour.
Located on a peninsula with impressive view of the surrounding mountains, the small settlement of Paamiut has existed since the mid-17th century, and the name of the town means ‘the people who live at the mouth’ referring to the nearby fjord. The town is home to a beautiful and ornate wooden church, which is remarkable when Greenland completely lacks trees that can be used for construction. The local museum is worth a visit, and features exhibits of local handicrafts and photos from the whaling period. The town and surrounding area are best known for the resident population of white-tailed eagles, while minke, fin, humpback and orca are common visitors to this stretch of coast. Arctic char is the most commonly caught fish in these waters and depending on the luck of the day’s catch by local fisherman, we may enjoy a meal of freshly caught Arctic char for the evening meal.
Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, the world’s northernmost capital, lies at the mouth of its very own fjord system on the country’s mid-west coast. On a guided walking tour around town, you’ll see charming old buildings including Greenland’s colourfully painted houses, and the award-winning City Hall. The small but fascinating National Museum features a unique ethnographical collection of artefacts of Inuit life, including the famous 545-year-old Qilakitsoq mummies, accidentally discovered by hikers in 1972.
Approximately 4,500 years ago, the Saqqaq culture arrived from Canada and settled in the area. They lived here for approximately 2,000 years, but mysteriously disappeared. The Dorset culture arrived around 500 AD and remained until the 1200s until they were replaced by the Thule culture, and today, most of the population of Sisimiut are descendants of the Thule culture.
Located above the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut enjoys experiences 24 hours of daylight during the summer months. As Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut is the only place in Greenland that has an open-air public swimming pool, and the town is famous for its old blue church featuring a whale jaw gate. The town’s small museum features interesting exhibits explaining local history and life in Greenland. The local arts centre features concerts, plays, films and cultural performances.
A few kilometres from downtown, Priest Mountain offers a challenging hike along a small river, and across tundra vegetation blooming with wildflowers, where you might encounter foxes, grouse, eagles soaring overhead, and perhaps musk ox. At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of town, the surrounding mountains, fjords and the sea.
Known as the ‘birthplace of icebergs’, this region boasts some of the most splendidly-shaped icebergs found anywhere on earth. Hike to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Icefjord and stand in awe of its immensity. Sermeq Kujalleq, also known as Jakobshavn Glacier, is the most productive glacier, not only in Greenland, but in the Northern Hemisphere. It produces 20 million tonnes of ice each day, all floating into the Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay. Conditions permitting, enjoy a Zodiac cruise at the mouth of the fjord and kayak through sea ice and icebergs.
Optional helicopter flight (90 mins): this excursion is the only way you can get close to the gigantic glacier. The 10-seater helicopter departs from Ilulissat Airport sweeping over hills, lakes and ice fjords. Land on the mountain at Kangia, in the middle of the preserved area, where you can revel in the incredible surroundings. On the return flight to Ilulissat, fly above the edge of the glacier with breathtaking views of the massive icebergs drifting in the fjord. The views of some of the largest icebergs that become stranded on a moraine underneath the water, just outside the town, offers a wonderful finale to this excursion.
Located 80 kilometres north of Ilulissat, Eqi Glacier is accessible only by sea, and is one of Greenland’s most active glaciers. Although smaller than Sermeq Kujalleq glacier in Ilulissat, Eqi Glacier is more accessible, and if sea-ice conditions permit, we’ll Zodiac cruise within safe distance of the glacier front where we see seals floating on bergy bits in front of the glacier while eagles can sometimes be seen soaring above. Several hikes are possible in the area, where you may encounter grouse, Arctic hare and small Arctic fox.
Evighedsfjorden, or Eternity Fjord, is one of the more spectacular fjord complexes in west Greenland due to its forested landscape. Hike through a forested valley, witness hills become towering snow-capped mountains as countless glaciers pour down from sheer cliff walls. Occasionally, the thunderous sound of a calving glacier breaks the silence in a place where you are unlikely to see another soul.
Tucked away at the end of a 180-kilometre-long Søndre Strømfjord is Greenland’s biggest and busiest airport, Kangerlussuaq. Bid farewell to the expedition team and transfer to the airport for a charter flight to Toronto, where you spend the night.
Once you have checked out of your hotel the trip ends. You may wish to spend a few nights in Toronto to explore this vibrant city.