Arctic Cruise - Greenland's Northern Lights

The Greenland coast is home to the ArcticÂ’s most diverse iceberg landscape. One of the best ways to experience new landscapes and cultures is by getting out on the land and exploring it. This expedition offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to hike some of the most pristine wilderness on the planet. A variety of full and half-day walking, hiking, and trekking excursions are offered, from a leisurely three-hour stroll to a full-day excursion including several challenging and rewarding treks. Spend as much time as possible ashore to explore, take photographs and soak up the incredible sights. The trip takes place at the time of year with optimum atmospheric conditions which produce the famous Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. With some luck, you will see this fantastic light display at least a couple of times over the course of the trip!

Itinerary

Day 1: Reykjavik, Iceland

The adventure begins with an overnight stay in thoroughly-modern Reykjavik, the world's northernmost capital city.

Day 2: Reykjavik / Embark

After a leisurely morning exploring Reykjavik on your own, join the group transfer to the port to board your vessel, research ship Akademik Sergey Vavilov. Linger on deck with your camera or binoculars. Scan the sky for seabirds, and the horizon for breaching whales.

Days 3-4: At Sea in the Denmark Strait

Sail through the Denmark Strait en route to mysterious Greenland. The onboard Expedition Team keeps you informed and entertained with presentations about the area's wildlife, history and geography. Also, receive several important safety and operational briefings.

Day 5: Kong Oscar Fjord / Ella Island

Rimmed by the majestic Fjord Mountains, Kong Oscar Fjord (named in 1899 for Sweden's king, Oscar II) offers plenty of opportunity for Arctic adventure. Depending on conditions, you may hike the delicate flower-and-berry strewn tundra at Holm Bay; Zodiac cruise through spectacular Alepfjord, and climb to the top of Ella Island. Be sure to pack both binoculars and camera: Ella Island offers unparalleled views of five fjords, beyond which you may also spot grazing musk oxen.

Day 6: Sofia sound, Antarctic Sound, Ymer Island

Yes, there is an "Antarctic" Sound within the Arctic circle! Here, you'll see the beautiful blue and gold of layered sedimentary rock on the barren eastern side of Ymer Island, and the lush vegetation of Blomsterbugten (Bay of Flowers) on the west side. You may hike from this lovely bay to Noa Lake and onwards, climbing slightly for a spectacular view of neighboring Dusens Fjord.

Day 7: Liverpool Coast

The jagged Liverpool Coast stretches southward from King Oscar Fjord to Scoresby Sund, the largest, longest, and - some say - the most beautiful fjord system in the world. This area was named for William Scoresby, a whaler, scientist and man of the cloth who charted the east coast of Greenland in 1822. Let the elements decide the day's activities. You may board the Zodiacs and cruise to Uunartoq Qeqertaq (the "warming island - so called for the discovery in 2005 after glacial ice melted to reveal an island.), or into nearby Storefjord.

Day 8: Itoqqortoormiit, Hurry Inlet

Itoqqortoormiit is East Greenland's most northly community, and one of the world's last remaining examples of a living hunter society. It's also one of the best places in the north to view the Aurora Borealis - the northern lights - and boasts superb hiking opportunities in nearby Hurry Inlet. Visit with traditional Greenlandic residents, and see unique handicrafts made from locally-harvested materials by the area's multi-talented artisans. You may see sled dog demonstrations, and visit the "women's house," where many items are still made by hand, and animal skins are prepared for use during the long, cold winters.

Day 9: Sydkap, Øfjord

lan to Zodiac cruise among massive icebergs, landing at an ancient Thule settlement once used as a winter camp. You may still see the centuries old subterranean homes, tent rings and discarded whale bones left behind by these nomadic ancestors of today's Greenlandic peoples. The surrounding vistas are extraordinary, and include hundreds of icebergs, each the size of a large apartment building. The rich tundra supports herds of enormous musk oxen, and the fjord is ringed by soaring mountain peaks. Visitors sometimes say they feel they've entered some mythic land of giants, while they themselves have shrunk to the size of ants. If the weather cooperates, end this action-packed day with a festive BBQ on Vavilov's deck.

Day 10: Rypefjord, Kap Hofmann Halvø

Sailing through the steep-walled Rypefjord, see a number of rare, blue icebergs. More normally seen in the Antarctic, these magnificent ice-castles seem to glow an iridescent blue. Birders should watch for Wheatears, Snow Buntings and Ravens. At Cape Hofmann Halvø, there is the best chance of spotting grazing musk oxen, and enjoying the delicate beauty of tundra wildflowers such as dwarf willlow and dwarf birch.

Day 11: Røde and Danmarks Islands

Here's your chance to Zodiac cruise among "grounded" icebergs through another of East Greenland's spectacular fjord systems. Land on the curiously-colored "Red Island," which takes its name from the island's beautiful hematite-colored sandstone. On Danmarks Island, you'll have another opportunity to hike a beautiful, lush tundra; this time culminating in magnificent views over Scoresby Sund and Fohn Fjord. Also, enjoy a visit to an ancient archeaological site, led by the ship's historian.

Days 12-13: At Sea

The homeward journey takes you back across the Denmark Strait, where you may spot white-beaked dolphins, and whales - humpback or Minke. Birders should keep watch for kittiwakes, gannets, guillemots, fulmars and razorbills.

Day 14: Reykjavik, Iceland / Disembark

The Greenland's Northern Lights tour ends where it began, in Iceland's vibrant capital. From here, you are free to fly home or extend your trip in Iceland. Want to stay longer, or arrive earlier? Contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

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