Arctic Expedition - West Greenland & Disko Bay
Updated: Dec 30, 2018
A 10 day Arctic Expedition, discovering Western Greenland and its Arctic wonders with Quark Expeditions.
An Arctic expedition, an adventure, full of ice, stunning scenery, culture, wildlife and more. This Arctic landscape captured our hearts - the scale, the colors - just breathtaking. This expedition has certainly made me a polar junkie and left me wanting more. Here are the extraordinary highlights of our journey north of the Arctic circle.
ICELAND | Our launching off and ending point and certainly worth extending either side of an Arctic expedition if it starts or ends here. Stunningly beautiful with a wealth of sightseeing from the Blue Lagoon to the Golden Circle and beyond, the few days we spent in Iceland could have been a vacation on its own and deserves its own post!
ITILLEQ | Located in a hollow (the meaning of “Itilleq” in Greenlandic), gave us a real flavor of how remote Greenland and some of its communities are. This picturesque village surrounded by sea, mountains and fjords, yet with no freshwater source, was a perfect launching off point to experience a traditional Greenlandic community which subsists by fishing and hunting community. Here we were welcomed into the homes of villagers who hosted a "Kaffemik" (a traditional open house which literally means "via coffee"), and we were even challenged to a football match, which they won of course!
ILLULISSAT | As its name suggests, meaning “iceberg” in Greenlandic, Illulissat delivers another world and our first experience with the enormity of the Greenland ice sheet and one of its biggest glaciers, the Jakobshavn Glacier (Sermeq Kujalleq) which drains 6.5% of the Greenland ice sheet and produces around 10% of all Greenland icebergs. Approximately, 35 billion tonnes of icebergs calve off and pass out of the Ilulissat Icefjiord each year and is one of the most actively calving glaciers in the world. Getting to experience this majestic landscape by both by land and sea left us awestruck. By land we were able to explore the town of Illulissat, founded in 1741 and a place it is rumored that the sled dogs outnumber the people! The highlight lay beyond the town, allowing us to experience this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The different loops range from 1-7km long, a must see as you can't grasp the enormity of this glacier from the sea. We did the 7km Blue Route allowing us to see the well into to the Icefjord and beyond. By sea, we travelled by zodiac into the inlet to see the glacier up close our first sighting of Fin whales and Humpback whales, one which almost upturned a kayaker.
EQIP SERMIA | Sailing toward the glacier Eqip Sermia - an active calving glacier where icebergs break off the glacier and tumble into the sea. This is one of the most photographed places in Greenland, and we experienced the ever changing and challenging nature of the Arctic. At what felt like snails pace, we forged through the brash ice towards this 5km wide glacier. Here again we were able to experience a landing and trek up to just above the glacier where we could observe the ice calving and hear the thunder-like cracks and rumbles from the active glacier beyond. We also were able to experience the glacier, icebergs and brash ice up close here via kayak.
UUMMANNAQ | Named after the heart shaped mountain which towers over the town, it is an impressive approach dominated not only by the mountain and colorful town but some of the biggest icebergs I have ever seen, some as large as a city block, towering above the ship. Here we also took part in the Polar Plunge, where we donned swimsuits and plunged into the Arctic waters from the ship, followed by a welcome shot of Vodka and a badge of honor!
TRIP REVIEW | Greenland was amazing and well worth a visit, something that many people don't get to experience. The expedition staff were amazing, incredibly friendly at every hour, upbeat, with boundless energy and extremely knowledgeable in each of their fields and so helpful. The ship staff were equally amazing, always said hello with a smile and would do anything they could to assist the passengers and we loved how at the end of the cruise each and everyone of them were introduced and congratulated. Perfect size ship, not too big and a very casual friendly atmosphere. Now the food!!! Wow, I have never eaten so much - every meal was varied, plentiful and delicious (and then there was more)!