Disko Bay in West Greenland
Disko Bay in West Greenland
The most interesting places to see on this trip are along the dramatic coastline of West Greenland: small colorful houses on the mountain slopes that drop steeply to the fjords, huge glaciers producing huge icebergs, and whales and seals feeding in the shallow sea. The people of Greenland live along the coast in small towns and settlements - accessible only from the sea in summer. Their culture, architecture and living conditions are determined, enriched and limited by the harsh nature of the Arctic. During our city visits you will have the opportunity to meet the hospitable Greenlanders and learn more about the Inuit culture. We fly from Keflavék to Kangerlussuaq airport, board the Ocean Atlantik and sail to the town of Sisimiut. Then on to the small and much quieter town of Qeqertarsuaq on Disko Island. Here we can experience the ancient "Kaffemik" tradition in the community center. On the southern journey we visit the calving glacier at Eqip Sermia, the iceberg capital of the world Ilulissat and the settlement of Sarfannguit where you can experience the hunting culture of the Inuit. Back in Kangerlussuaq, we disembark the ship and enjoy a bus tour to the ice cap before flying back to Keflavék and Iceland. Unforgettable experiences await you in Greenland!
14.08 - 19.08.2022 (English)
19.08 - 24.08.2022 (English)
24.08 - 29.08.2022 (English)
29.08 - 05.09.2022 (English)
First day: Arrival at Kangerlussuaq, Arrival at
Second to penultimate day: On expedition cruise... Ice, weather and wildlife observation will determine the route.
Last day: Disembarkation at Kangerlussuaq and return home.
We board our charter flight in Keflavék or Copenhagen and fly to Kangerlussuaq.
Upon arrival at the former American air base in western Greenland, we will be driven to the small harbor west of the airport where the Ocean Atlantik awaits us. Zodiacs will take us the short distance to the ship where you will be checked into your cabin. After the safety drill, enjoy dinner as we sail out to sea through the 160-kilometer long Kangerlussuaq Fjord.
After breakfast we arrive in the colorful town of Sisimiut, where we get an idea of what modern Greenland looks like. With a population of 5.400, it is considered Greenland's second "city" next to Nuuk. People have lived in the Sisimiut area since 2,500 BC.
In 1756, Earl Johan Ludvig Holstein founded a colony here and named it "Holsteinsborg". The oldest part of Sisimiut's old town contains townhouses from this "Holsteinsborg" era, and the oldest house in town dates back to 1756. One of the most culturally significant buildings is the Blue Church, which was built in 1775.
Today, Sisimiut is an important place for education and industry, and local factories process most of Royal Greenland's fishery. The fish processing plant is one of the largest of its kind in Greenland and one of the most modern in the world.
Our highlights of the city tour include the historic colonial district, the museum and the beautiful church. In addition, we will visit the downtown area. In the afternoon we will return on board and continue north.
In the evening we will pass the Sisimiut Isortuat Fjord, the Nordre Strait Fjord settlements of Attu and Ikerasaarsuk, and the small town of Kangaatsiaq. During the light night we pass Aasiaat and enter the southern waters of Disko Bay. Next we will tax Disko Island, known for its distinctive 1,000 meter layered cliffs.
At this point we will be north of the Arctic Circle! Here the nights are light and early risers can enjoy the sight of icebergs on Disko Bay squeezing out of the Ilulissat Icefjord and floating into the icy seawater.
Our next stop is at the southern tip of Disko Island. Our ship will anchor in a sheltered natural harbor called Godhavn ("Good Harbor") in Danish, while its Greenlandic name, Qeqertarsuaq, means "The Big Island."
Qeqertarsuaq is topographically very different from mainland Greenland due to the basalt characteristics of the Disko Island mountains and has a long, rich history. It once served as one of the country's most important economic centers. Beginning in the 16th century, the community was relatively prosperous and was considered the most important town north of Nuuk until the mid-19th century, due in part to the significant whale population and successful hunting in the region.
During our visit, we will wander through the town and visit the distinctive octagonal church nicknamed "God's Inkwell" as well as a local community center where we may attend a traditional Greenlandic "kaffemik". Such a kaffemik can best be described as a friendly gathering with coffee, cake and traditional dancing and music.
Musicians from Greenland originally played on a drum (qilaat) made of an oval wooden frame covered with the bladder of a polar bear. Unlike other drums, the qilaat was played by hitting the frame with a stick, not the skin itself. This simple instrument was used for a variety of purposes. For entertainment, but also by shamans for exorcism and witchcraft.
After the arrival of the missionaries, drum dancing was banned and later replaced by partitions of psalms and choral works, which today are known for their special Greenlandic sound. Today, drum dancing is used as entertainment at cultural events and festive occasions.
At the end of the day, our ship will take a northeast course to head for another highlight of the voyage - the huge Eqip Sermia glacier.
The Eqip Sermia Glacier is located about 50 nautical miles north of Ilulissat and is known for its breathtaking beauty. Legendary Arctic explorers chose this place as a base for their studies. One such explorer, the celebrated Swiss glaciologist Alfred de Quervain, used the site as a base for his expeditions to Greenland's inland ice sheet over a century ago.
We will sail as close to the ice edge as possible - but at a safe distance to avoid ice blocks and violent waves, often resulting from the calving glacier, harming us or the ship.
Ilulissat is probably the most beautifully situated town in Greenland. The name simply means "icebergs" in Greenlandic, and the town's nickname is rightly "the iceberg capital".
In Disko Bay, which lies just off the coast of Ilulissat, gigantic icebergs linger in the icy waters. These icebergs originate from the Icefjord, which lies half an hour south of Ilulissat. These impressive frozen structures are born about 70 km deeper in the fjord from the giant Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. This 10 km wide glacier is the most active glacier outside of Antarctica; while most glaciers advance at a rate of only about one meter per day, Sermeq Kujalleq moves at a rate of 25 meters per day. The icebergs produced by the glacier account for more than 10% of all icebergs in Greenland, which is equivalent to about 20 million tons of ice per day!
These facts, together with the fjord's incomparable landscape, have secured the ice fjord a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
In the more than 250 years that have passed since Ilulissat was founded, the town has grown steadily. Today Ilulissat is the third largest town in Greenland with more than 4,500 inhabitants. The town is very lively, welcoming and offers a wide range of cultural attractions, traditional by Greenlandic standards and modern in style.
The legendary polar explorer Knud Rasmussen and his good friend, J. Barnlund, were both born in Ilulissat.
On this day you also have the opportunity to join an extra offered boat trip to the Icefjord (not included). The tour takes about two and a half hours in total, and is a great opportunity to get a closer look at the amazing ice-dominated landscape.
The trip is definitely something out of the ordinary and a great nature experience you'll remember for years to come - just be sure to bring warm clothes!
If a hike or boat ride isn't exciting enough, there is also the option of arranging a helicopter ride over the Icefjord (not included).
Please note that boat and helicopter excursions to Icefjord are not included in the general tour price. In addition, the helicopter excursion must be booked in advance.
In the evening we will cast off and head south again, leaving the beautiful Disko Bay behind.
The settlement of Sarfannguit translates as "the place of the little stream". A fitting name for a settlement on the foothills of mountains and glaciers in the distant backcountry. The settlement's slightly more than 100 inhabitants live from hunting and fishing. Rich animal populations of Arctic char, reindeer and musk oxen have ensured survival here for thousands of years.
Although Sarfannguit is quite remote, it is only a few hours from Sisimiut, the second largest city in Greenland. The accessibility of such a large city provides an indispensable economic benefit to a small community like Sarfannguit.
A walk through the settlement offers glimpses of rural life in contemporary Greenland, where modern conveniences and technological advances such as the internet and smartphones are the norm, but locals still place great value on important customs and the preservation of their traditions and Inuit heritage.
We will continue our journey towards the fjord of Kangerlussuaq, also known as Sondre Stromfjord. Especially the first part of the fjord offers a great opportunity to enjoy an impressive passage with panoramic views of high mountains and deep valleys.
During the night we will have completed our passage through the 160 kilometer long Kangerlussuaq Fjord. After breakfast aboard the ship, we will say goodbye to the crew and the Zodiac boats will take us ashore.
Due to Kangerlussuaq's military history and its current role as a major air travel hub, Kangerlussuaq seems quite isolated from Greenland's rich cultural traditions compared to other regions. During a visit to Kangerlussuaq, the most impressive attraction is the surrounding nature.
It is not difficult to see that Kangerlussuaq's landscape was largely shaped by the last ice age, often known simply as the "Ice Age," which ended about 10.000 years ago. The mountains are rounded and soft, and many meltwater lakes remained after the glaciers retreated. From the inland ice sheet, best known as the Greenland Ice Sheet, meltwater makes its way through the porous moraine landscape and flows into the Kangerlussuaq Fjord.
Kangerlussuaq's climate today is largely influenced by its well-protected location between Greenland's ice sheet, fjord and mountains. This contributes to stable conditions, minimal cloud cover and around 300 clear nights per year.
This proximity to the ice sheet, combined with the continental climate, is also important for local conditions. The dry climate, combined with warm winds that "fall" from the ice sheet, can result in temperatures that rise to +30°C in summer, but then drop to extreme -40°C in winter, making it the coldest inhabited area in Greenland.
In Kangerlussuaq we offer an optional excursion to the beautiful Reindeer Glacier. The duration of the excursion is about four hours.
Please note that the excursion is not included in the general tour price. For more information, please see price information. We do not recommend the excursion for people suffering from neck pain or a pre-existing back problems, as the gravel road to the ice sheet is occasionally bumpy and uneven.
The return flight marks the end of an impressive week in the west of Greenland. We fly from Kangerlussuaq to Keflavik Airport in Iceland or to Copenhagen, Denmark.
Show deck plan
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