Epic West Greenland and Baffin Island
Next DepartureAug. 23, 2024
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, Boat, Kayaking, Lectures, Northern Light, Photography, Trekking, Wildlife observations, Zodiac
Join Albatros Expeditions for a unique expedition voyage exploring the wild west coast of Greenland, and the vast wilderness of Baffin Island, Canada.
Albatros Expeditions is thrilled to present a new and exciting voyage for Summer 2024 – an expedition voyage onboard Ocean Albatros exploring west Greenland and Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada. This thrilling itinerary offers guests the opportunity to see the vibrant capital cities of Greenland and Nunavut, meet the friendly locals in picturesque towns and villages, as well as exploring breathtaking Arctic nature including glaciers and icebergs, plunging fjords and precipitous mountain ranges.
The voyage begins in Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland, before sailing to Kangaamiut, a small welcoming settlement rich in tradition and culture. From here we will visit the spectacular glaciers of Evighedsfjord, before continuing on to Nuuk, Greenland’s bustling capital. From Nuuk, we will set out across the Davis Strait to Iqaluit, the capital and largest city of Nunavut - meet the locals and soak up the vibrant Inuit culture of the city before visiting Lower Savage, Monumental and Lady Franklin Islands, all hotspots for Arctic wildlife. We will then venture onwards to Pangnirtung, one of Nunavut’s best known communities, situated in spectacular natural surroundings.
After Pangnirtung, we will return to Greenland, arriving in the second largest city of Sisimiut, after which we will proceed northwards to the eternally icy Disko Bay region, visiting the sweeping mountains of Qeqertarsuaq, and the spectacular UNESCO world heritage site of Ilulissat Icefjord. We return to Kangerlussuaq via the small village of Sarfannguit, where visitors can experience life in a traditional Greenlandic settlement. Visiting two spectacular Arctic nations, this voyage offers the chance to experience Inuit culture on both sides of the Davis Strait, witness the majesty of Arctic wildlife, and explore the breathtaking wilderness of the North.
Facts about Epic West Greenland and Baffin Island
Fly Reykjavik to Kangerlussuaq, embarkation
In the afternoon, we board our chartered flight in Reykjavik, Iceland, bound for Kangerlussuaq in Greenland.
Upon arrival to Kangerlussuaq (Søndre Strømfjord), we will be driven to the small port located west of the airport, where Ocean Albatros will be anchored offshore. Zodiacs will transfer us the short distance to the ship, where your stateroom awaits after check-in. After the mandatory safety drill, dine in comfort with spectacular views as we set sail through the 160-kilometer Kangerlussuaq Fjord.
Kangaamiut and Evighedsfjorden, Greenland
aim to explore on a Zodiac cruise in front of the Evigheds Glacier, which flows into the fjord from the Maniitsoq Ice Cap above. Watch for calvings from the glacier, and guillemots and kittiwakes on the nearby bird cliffs.
Day at sea, crossing the Davis Strait westbound
Days at sea are never dull. We will arrange a variety of activities onboard for our guests to enjoy to engage the mind, body and soul. Join your knowledgeable Expedition Team lecturers in the Theatre to hear specially-crafted lectures on local history, wildlife, geology, culture and more, unwind with a massage in the Albatros Polar Spa, or simply watch the seabirds gliding along the ship from our hot tubs as the Ocean Albatros flies across the Davis Strait.
Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ (meaning 'Many Fish' in Inuktitut)
Lower Savage Islands, Nunavut, Canada
Monumental Island and Lady Franklin Island, Nunavut, Canada
Monumental Island was named in English in honour of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition - however the Inuktitut name ᐅᒥᐊᙳᐊᖅ/Umiannguaq references the island's shape, translating as 'The Little Boat'. Lady Franklin Island was named in honour of Franklin's wife, who sponsored seven expeditions in search of her missing husband - a sadly fruitless endeavour.
Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Canada
Day at sea, crossing the Davis Strait eastbound
After breakfast, Ocean Abatros will arrive in the colourful city of Sisimiut. With around 5,400 inhabitants, it is Greenland’s second largest city, and one of the most interesting to explore. People have lived around Sisimiut on and off since 2,500 BC, arriving in waves of migration from Arctic Canada. Remnants from this time such as the remains of turf huts and tent camps can be found thorughout the vast back country which surrounds Sisimiut, including on Tele Island, a short pleasant walk from the harbour.
In 1756, Count Johan Ludvig Holstein established a colony here and called it “Holsteinsborg”. The oldest part of Sisimiut features town houses from this era, and the oldest dates back to 1756. One of the most culturally significant buildings is the Blue Church, built in 1775, now a landmark in the city’s historical museum district, arguably the best preserved in Greenland, and the perfect place to discover the Greenland of old.
Nowadays, Sisimiut is an important hub of education and industry, and local factories process the bulk of fish caught in the country (Greenland’s largest export). The fish processing plant in the harbour is one of the largest in Greenland, and among the most modern in the world. Just beyond the harbour sits the headquarters of KNI, the government-operated company which resupplies the many small settlements throughout Greenland - a vital service in a country with so many remote communties.
The busy city centre of Sisimiut offers a glimpse of what daily life is like in 21st-century Greenland, where seal hunts and smartphones collide. Take a refreshing stroll around Spedjesø and take in an exhibition at the city's cultural centre, explore the region's fascinating heritage at the city museum, or visit the Artists Workshop, where savvy shoppers can purchase traditional artworks direct from the artist. As evening falls, we will leave Sisimiut and set a course for the iceberg studded waters of Disko Bay (Qeqertarsuup Tunua) as Ocean Albatros sails for Qeqertarsuaq.
Nestled below Disko Island’s 1,000-metre mountains, we pull into port in a beautifully sheltered natural harbour. The place was aptly named Godhavn (“Good Harbour”) in Danish, while its Greenlandic name “Qeqertarsuaq” simply means “The Big Island”.
For most of Greenland’s modern history, Godhavn was the political and economic capital of North Greenland (while Godthåb, now Nuuk, served this role in South Greenland). Its importance was due to the vast economic activity generated by whaling in Disko Bay, the preeminent Arctic industry since the 16th Century. As the whaling industry collapsed in the early 1900s, Godhavn lost its political status as all government functions moved south to Godthåb/Nuuk, and the town was forced to reinvent itself, changing its name to Qeqertarsuaq in 1979 . Today, hunting and fishing are the main industries in Qeqertarsuaq, while tourism is becoming increasingly important. Ferries arrive in the town daily in summer from around Disko Bay, while in winter, access is only by helicopter.
Qeqertarsuaq’s sweeping red-and-black basalt mountains are radically different to the rolling granite hills which characterize much of Greenland, and provide a much richer soil. Despite being situated well above the Arctic Circle, this rich volcanic soil and the area’s mild microclimate make it much more green and lush compared to the rest of the country. Locals from all over Disko Bay come to the island in summer to hunt and collect angelica, herbs and mushrooms, and the stunning rock formations and black sand beaches attract visitors from all over the world. The town itself is typically Greenlandic, with quaint multicoloured homes, a splendid museum, and the unique octagonal church (built in the Norwegian stave style). With excellent hiking opportunities, friendly locals, and a fascinating place in regional history, Qeqertarsuaq has a lot to offer. From here, we set sail towards Ilulissat, the largest city in Disko Bay and the Iceberg Capital of the World.
Ilulissat, Iceberg capital of the world
This is it. This is why visitors from all over the world come to Greenland. Translated from Kalaallisut simply as ‘icebergs’, Ilulissat is rightly known the world over as ‘the Iceberg Capital of the World’. Surely no other city on Earth occupies such a spectacular natural setting.
Situated within a short walk of the harbour lies Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland’s most famous site. Choked with city-sized icebergs so closely packed one could almost walk across to the other side, Ilulissat Icefjord stretches 70 km from its outlet in Disko Bay back to the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier. This is the single largest glacier on Earth outside Antarctica, draining 13% of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and producing 10% of all the ice in the Northern Hemisphere (enough water to supply the annual needs of the entire United States). These mind-blowing statistics, together with the indescribably beautiful scenery, have secured the Ilulissat Icefjord designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While archaeological finds detail the long Inuit habitation of the area, the modern town has steadily flourished in the 280 years since its establishment; legendary Arctic explorer, Knud Rasmussen was born in Ilulissat, and his childhood home now houses the city museum. Today, Ilulissat is Greenland’s third largest town, with more than 4,500 inhabitants, and is undoubtedly Greenland’s tourism capital, with more hotel rooms than even Nuuk. The city offers excellent amenities to visitors, with fresh locally caught seafood served in the city’s cafes and restaurants, and excellent shopping – look out especially for the Artist’s Workshop above the harbour, where you can buy handmade artworks direct from the artist. The city typically experiences dry sunny weather throughout the summer, and there are a variety of well-marked hiking routes around the Icefjord, with options to suit all abilities.
During the visit you will have the opportunity to join a boat trip with a local captain to the Icefjord (optional excursion – charge applies). The journey takes about two and a half hours and is considered the best way to experience the magic of Ilulissat Icefjord up close. If a hike or a trip by boat does not present enough excitement, there is also an opportunity to join a flightseeing excursion in fixed-wing aircraft over the Icefjord (optional excursion – charge applies).
Please note the boat and flight excursions to the Ice fjord are not included in the general tour price. Refer to Price Information for more details.
In the evening, we will cruise southward in front of the city-sized icebergs at the mouth of the Icefjord as we leave Disko Bay en route to Kangerlussuaq.
Situated just north of the Arctic Circle, Sarfannguit is one of the many tiny villages dotting the coast of Greenland. The settlement if situated in the heart of the Aassivisuit-Nipisat UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was inscribed due to its ancient Inuit hunting heritage, documenting the entire habitation history of Greenland. While the turf houses and hide tents have been replaced by colourful modern houses, the lifestyle here has changes little since the Inuit first arrived in Greenland. The local highways are the water and the ice, and the sea continues to nourish the locals, as it has for thousands of years.
Despite this ancient heritage, locals in Sarfannguit are still firmly in the modern world, with smartphones, speedy wifi and satellite TV. Depending on how many residents are in town during our visit (many are frequently away on extended hunting trips), we hope to be able to play a game of football with the locals. Although we may outnumber them, they will be playing on home turf. Good luck!
Disembarkation, fly Kangerlussuaq to Reykjavik
During the night, we will sail up the 160-kilometer/100 mile Kangerlussuaq Fjord. After breakfast aboard the ship, we will bid farewell to the ship's crew shuttling ashore by Zodiac.
Due to Kangerlussuaq’s military history and present-day role as an important air travel hub, Kangerlussuaq remains fairly isolated from Greenland’s rich cultural traditions, in comparison to other regions. While you still find cultural experiences when visiting Kangerlussuaq, the most impressive attraction is the surrounding nature, which is just beckoning to be explored. The town itself was largely constructed by the American military in the 1950s, and this small airport town has retained something of its Cold War atmosphere. Your Arctic adventure and time in Greenland concludes as we board the flight from Kangerlussuaq back to Reykjavik, Iceland.
- Charter flight Copenhagen/Reykjavik to Kangerlussuaq, and Kangerlussuaq to Reykjavik/Copenhagen
- Transfer to/from the port of Kangerlussuaq
- 14-day/13-night cruiseonboard Ocean Albatros in a shared double stateroom with private bathroom in the chosen category
- English-speaking expedition team
- Nature hikes and Zodiac cruises per itinerary
- In-port town and settlement walks with the Expedition Team
- Information briefings and lectures by Expedition Team
- Full board onboard Ocean Albatros
- Free coffee, tea and afternoon snacks onboard
- Welcome and farewell cocktails
- Taxes, tariffs and AECO fees
- Special photo workshops
- Digital visual journal link after the voyage, including voyage log, gallery, species list and more!
- Hotel accommodations pre- and post-cruise
- Travel insurance
- Cancellation insurance
- Extra/optional excursions and activities not mentioned in the itinerary
- Single room supplement
- Meals not on board the ship
- Beverages (other than coffee and tea)
- Tips for the crew (we recommend USD 14 per person per day)
- Personal expenses
- Anything not mentioned under 'Inclusions'.
• Visiting the quaint yet cosmopolitan cities of Greenland’s west coast.
• Wildlife watching at the Lower Savage Islands
• Visiting Iqaluit, capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, home of the Polar Inuit and site of legendary ‘Ultima Thule’
• Pangnirtung, the 'Switzerland of the Arctic'
• Visiting Ilulissat, Iceberg Capital of the World. Many optional excursions are available, including Ilulissat Icefjord boat and flightseeing trips.
Day 12: Flightseeing over the icebergs.
Day 12: Sailing among icebergs.
Day 14: 4-wheel-drive bus excursion to Reindeer Glacier at the edge of the Icecap.
Please note that all activities off the vessel rely on weather, sea and ice conditions being favourable both for the ship to access the areas described, as well as for the safe operation of our Zodiacs and kayaks. Operations in the Arctic are entirely subject to conditions, and the itinerary may vary based on the best available conditions.
Ocean Albatros has excellent public areas including our wellness spa, gym and sauna, Restaurant, Bar and a library for our guests to enjoy during inclement weather. Our ship is staffed by experts in their fields, who will share fascinating lectures along the way, ranging from exploration history to biology, geology, glaciology and Arctic wildlife.