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Late summer in West Greenland

Ultima Thule: the Horizontal Everest

Example 17 Day Cruise aboard L'Austral
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Step aboard L'Austral in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland for a 17-day expedition to the heart of Ultima Thule at the farthest reaches of the planet. Between ice caps and ice floes, past glaciers, icebergs and brash ice, sail to the heart of the northern hemisphere's biggest ice producer. Stop over at Skraeling Island (Pim Island), the northernmost point reached by the Vikings, then return via the path taken by the famous American expedition led by Adolphus Greely. Sail through the polar region's most spectacular landscapes, from Greenland's west coast with its mountains softened by glaciers to the Arctic mountain range's steep slopes and Thule's high Arctic tundra. Sail through the polar region's most spectacular landscapes and see amazingly rich fauna.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Embark in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland
Day 2 : Sisimiut
Day 3 : Qikiqtarjua | Kivitoo
Day 4 : Arctic Harbor | Isabella Bay
Day 5 : Sam Ford Fjord
Day 6 : Icy Arm Fjord | Feachem Bay
Day 7 : Beatrice Point | Coburg Island
Day 8 : Pim Island | Alexander Bay
Day 9 : Geometric North Pole
Day 10 : Hans Island | Humboldt Glacier
Day 11 : Ethan | Siorapaluk
Day 12 : Cape York | Savissivik
Day 13 : Kullorsuaq
Day 14 : Nuliarfik
Day 15 : Ilulissat
Day 16 : Evighedsfjorden
Day 17 : Kangerlussuaq | Disembark

Highlights

  • Discover unique mountains and valleys only accessible by hiking trails
  • Visit the magnificent north geomagnetic pole, where the famous auroras occur
  • Explore the well-known and spectacular Humboldt glacier
  • See amazingly rich fauna, including polar bears, musk ox & arctic wolves

Ship

L'Austral

Places Visited

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Late summer in West Greenland Polar bear balances on the ice in the Arctic Zodiak kittiwakes Inukshuk in the Arctic

Day 1 Embark in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

From 1941 to 1992, the town of Kangerlussuaq in Greenland was home to an American military base. Nowadays, thanks to its international airport, it has become a transit point for travelers seeking adventure in the Far North. Located to the north of the Arctic Circle, this town is the starting point of magnificent discoveries surrounded by unspoiled nature. Indeed, just a few dozen kilometers from there it is possible to get close to the Greenland ice sheet, the largest body of ice in the Northern Hemisphere. From Kangerlussuaq, admire also the superb landscapes of tundra in autumnal colors, where arctic hares, musk oxen, arctic foxes, reindeer, falcons, and eagles live. 

Day 2 Sisimiut

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
During your cruise discover Sisimiut, founded in 1756 and the second largest town in Greenland. This small town is typical of Greenland, boasting bewitching panoramas: here and there, colorful stilt houses dot the undulating landscape, and the small fishing port stands as the gateway to an icy realm. As for the town center, it is home to a number of historic buildings, a small church, and a museum which retraces the history of the Inuit people, as well as many craft shops. When your ship drops anchor here, set out to meet the locals in a typical Arctic atmosphere.

Day 3 Qikiqtarjua | Kivitoo

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The small hamlet of Qikiqtarjuaq is on the east coast of Baffin Island, in the heart of Nunavut territory. Bounded by the Davis Strait, the island of Qikiqtarjuaq, formerly known as Broughton Island, is marked by the history of whale hunting. During the 19th century, European whalers traveled around the region and began trading with the Inuits. Later on, the installation of a military post and a landing strip facilitated access to this part of the worldLocated very close to the Auyuittuq National Park, Qikiqtarjuaq has very beautiful landscapes of mountains, hills, and ice, and is home to many emblematic Arctic animals: whales, seals, walruses, narwhals, and polar bears.

Next head to Kivitoo, a simultaneously calm and unsettling place that you can explore with your naturalist-guides. This former Inuit camp lying in the heart of a heathland landscape was abandoned in 1923. Pass before a broken-down cabin surrounded by metal tanks that stored whale oil at the time when cetacean hunting was in full swing. You can see walrus skulls and the graves of Inuits, revealing their past presence. Kivitoo had its days of technological glory in the 1950s, with the installation of an American radar station on top of the mountain overlooking the area.

Day 4 Arctic Harbor | Isabella Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arctic Harbor is on the small island of Aulitiving, barely 15 km long and 5 km wide, at the entrance to Isabella Bay. A major whale hunting site, this small natural harbor still has remnants from those times, notably some whaler graves. This port of call is the opportunity to go for a lovely hike in the heart of the Arctic tundra, and perhaps to reach the highest point of the island, located at an altitude of 410 meters.

Welcome to the kingdom of the cetaceans! Here, those who love the giants of the Arctic won’t know where to look. Isabella Bay is in fact part of the Ninginganiq National Wildlife Area, one of the finest places to observe bowhead whales. From your ship, watch the sumptuous ballet performed by these impressive mammals. With undersea faults over 300 meters deep, Isabella Bay, located on the north-east coast of Baffin Island, attracts cetaceans which come here to feed. In addition to the bowhead whales, the uncontested stars of these parts, the Ninginganiq Wildlife Area is also home to ringed seals, narwhals, polar bears, king eiders, little auks, and northern fulmars.

Day 5 Sam Ford Fjord

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
All around you is a raw landscape of spectacular beauty. Nothing seems to want to disturb the silence. You are in the Sam Ford Fjord, on the east coast of Baffin Island. Located only a few kilometers away from the Inuit community of Clyde River, this fjord has the kind of world’s end appearance that only the Arctic lands can offer. From your ship, allow yourself to be dazzled by the series of vertiginous cliffs plunging into the waters of the fjord. These impressively high walls of rock, known worldwide to climbing enthusiasts, are reflected in the waters of the fjord, as though to completely shift perspectives and blur the lines between land and sea.

Day 6 Icy Arm Fjord | Feachem Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The east coast of Baffin Island is a real lacework of fjords. Among them, in the north, is the spectacular Icy Arm fjord. As you sail these parts, be dazzled by the immense cliffs that are sometimes over 1,000 meters high. This is a paradise for base jumping (parachute jumping from the top of the cliffs). During your stop here, you can have the opportunity to hike at the feet of these mountains and within the glacial valleys. Keep your eyes open when you get back on your boat: you have the chance to observe marine mammals, such as whales, orcas, and even narwhals.

After sailing the Buchan Gulf, disembark in Feachem Bay. From a small beach, home to the ruins of sod houses, set off on a hike into the heart of very beautiful landscapes. The main part of the walk is along magnificent tundra, fairly humid, full of colorful lichens, minuscule Arctic willows, Arctic poppies, cotton-grass and soft mosses, which makes you feel like you’re walking on a mattress. Arriving at the top of a ridge, enjoy this very beautiful viewpoint over the glacier below. Frequented by polar bears, Feachem Bay also provides refuge for a great many birds.

Day 7 Beatrice Point | Coburg Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Located at the entrance to the Canadian High Arctic, completely to the east of Devon Island, this surprising peninsula provides an opportunity to discover a specific ecosystem and observe the glaciers coming from the Devon ice cap. During your port of call in these parts, perhaps also have the chance to encounter the ice floes descending directly from the North Pole, as well as the wildlife often found here.

A real paradise for ornithologists lies to the north of Baffin Bay, very close to Ellesmere Island. Indeed, the small Coburg Island is one of the most important sea bird nesting areas in the Canadian Arctic: Tridactyl gulls, thick-billed murres, and northern fulmars have all made it their favorite spot. 60% of the island is covered with ice fields and glaciers, giving a very rugged mountainous relief. In addition to the birds, it is also home to polar bears, walruses, beluga whales, narwhals, ringed seals, and bearded seals. The Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area, created in 1995 with the goal of preserving these species, entirely encompasses Coburg as well as its surrounding waters.

Day 8 Pim Island | Alexander Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Pim Island, also known as Skraeling Island, is of quite exceptional historic interest. In fact, in 1978 and 1979, artifacts of European origins (Viking) were discovered here, including around sixty remnants from the Dorset and Thule cultures: pieces of chainmail, rivets, chain links… These artifacts, dating from 1270, are perhaps the result of the bartering practiced by the Inuits, which would prove that the Vikings had been as far as the Smith Strait. Pim Island is also known for having been home to the members of the Greely expedition during the 1883-1884 winter. They took refuge here in a makeshift shelter: Camp Clay, near Cape Sabine.

Later today sail to Alexander Bay, a narrow passage located on Johan Peninsula, on Ellesmere Island. From 1953 to 1963, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police built a police station here, considered to be the world’s northernmost. Still in place, it is now occasionally used by scientists.

Day 9 Geometric North Pole

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
There are three kinds of pole: magnetic, geographic, and geomagnetic. The Geomagnetic North Pole, the least well-known of all, comes from a mathematic model supposing that the Earth behaves like a perfect magnetic dipole, which is not in reality exact, since the Magnetic North and South Poles and the center of the Earth are not aligned. The position of the Geomagnetic North Pole is therefore defined by calculations and changes constantly, following the movements of the Magnetic North Pole. In 1951, then located in Greenland at 78° 29’ N. and 68° 54’ W, it was reached by Jean Malaurie. It can currently be found on Ellesmere Island.  

Day 10 Hans Island | Humboldt Glacier

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Welcome to a rather particular island. Located between Greenland (part of Denmark) and Ellesmere Island (Canada), its sovereignty has in fact been controversial since 1973, when the maritime boundaries of the Nares Strait were drawn out. Today, Denmark and Canada are still fighting over the possession of this islet, although it is hardly an El Dorado. This tiny piece of uninhabited land, covered with ice for most of the year, is not the most hospitable of places. To protect the island, which could be subject to oil drilling in the future, a collective has been set up so that everyone can declare themselves an “inhabitant” of Hans, thus putting the ecological stakes before the financial interests.

Later visit one of the most well-known and spectacular glaciers on this region, the Humboldt glacier. It is the vastest coastal glacier in the Northern Hemisphere, with a glacier terminus that reaches 110 km in width. Advancing inexorably towards the sea, it regularly calves veritable ice cathedrals – gigantic icebergs that detach themselves from the glacier before toppling and crashing into the frozen ocean.

Day 11 Ethan | Siorapaluk

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
To the north of the region of Thule, in Inglefield Land, there is an ancient Inuit hunting camp known for having been the departure point of many European expeditions to conquer the North Pole. Here, in Etah, you have the possibility of discovering peat house vestiges from the Thule civilzsation and making your way up the valley for a gorgeous walk in Greenland’s high Arctic. Today, this region is still a favorite hunting spot for Greenlanders. It is not unusual to see musk oxen here.

Small colorful houses, a few small motorboats resting on the shore, a school, a grocery store, sled dogs: here you are in Siorapaluk, Greenland’s northernmost native settlement. With some fifty inhabitants, this tranquil village made famous by Jean Malaurie in his novel The Last Kings of Thule lives in harmony with nature's cycles. Here, hunting, fishing, and skin tanning are part of everyday life, just like in many other Inuit villages. This is an authentic and typical port of call where you can be greeted by a joyous group of children, who are always happy to welcome visitors.

Day 12 Cape York | Savissivik

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A few kilometers to the west of Savissivik, in Greenland, your ship passes Cape York, a place that is brimming with history and marked by the conquest of the North Pole. Indeed, it is here, at the end of the 19th century, that the American explorer Robert Peary discovered fragments of one of the biggest meteorites ever found to this day. He had them sent back to the United States and later sold them to a New York museum, where they are still on display. Despite Robert Peary’s disputed achievements and his sometimes controversial attitude towards the Inuit populations, a memorial was erected in his honor at Cape York. Constructed in the 1930s, the memorial still stands today.

Some places in this world are so magical that their beauty cannot be described in words… Savissivik, a small Inuit village with less than a hundred inhabitants, is one such place. Rightly considered to be the biggest iceberg graveyard in Greenland, it is a stunning sight to behold. During your Zodiac outing, you can sail between these icy giants that have become stranded in the shallows. Once on land, you can hike to a viewpoint from which to enjoy breathtaking views over these icebergs, which come in an incredibly diverse range of shapes and colors. Photographers love it! Savissivik Bay attracts many bears and is also known for having been the home of one of the world’s biggest meteorites, but the latter has now been moved to a museum in New York.

Day 13 Kullorsuaq

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Well beyond the Arctic Circle, in the majestic landscapes of Greenland’s Northwest, you can find the village of Kullorsuaq, the last bastion of Greenland’s traditional hunters. Here is where you find Greenland’s true character… vast mineral expanses, sumptuous mountains, impressive glaciers and, above all, the local population which still lives off fishing and seal or bear hunting. Hospitality and respect for nature are essential elements in the daily lives of these men, who live an austere life. When you drop anchor in this remote part of the world, set off to discover these friendly people who are also talented craftsmen, deftly sewing the furs and skins of marine mammals. 

Day 14 Nuliarfik

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This small island, north of Uummannaq Bay where two fjords meet, is often an opportunity for sumptuous sailing along the vertical cliffs, surrounded by drifting icebergs. Situated not far from Nugatsiaq, one of the small villages attached to the town of Uummannaq, Nuliarfik is an ancient village of the Thule civilization. When your ship calls here, you have the opportunity to visit the vestiges of peat houses. Then, take a walk up to higher ground and, from a magnificent panoramic viewpoint, you can observe this beautiful network of iceberg-filled fjords.

Day 15 Ilulissat

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
At the heart of Disko Bay - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - the Ilulissat Icefjord provides an extraordinary spectacle of almost surreal beauty, with the largest icebergs of the northern hemisphere. The sculptural icebergs continue their timeless journey, shimmering with their eternal light. Vast pieces of ice break off from the bergs and rejoin the inexorable movement of the sea. Close by lies the town of Ilulissat, the region’s principal destination. Encircled by icebergs, it has retained a unique mix of traditional Arctic life, with multicolored wooden houses, huskies, and the leather tanners who still work today using the ancient methods of their ancestors.

Day 16 Evighedsfjorden

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Your ship glides slowly along the water towards the west coast of Greenland to enter Evighedsfjorden, just a few kilometers south of Kangerlussuaq. Evighedsfjorden means “the fjord of Eternity”, and for good reason: just when you think you’ve reached the end of this stretch of sea measuring over 100 kilometers in length, it seems to go on forever, as though to bring even more pleasure to those sailing in it. The spectacular scenery ranges from glaciers to tundra with an abundant flora, and jagged cliffs where numerous bird species have taken up residence. Take the time to observe the white-tailed eagles and the colonies of seagulls and black-legged kittiwakes flying overhead in the area.

Day 17 Kangerlussuaq | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight from Kangerlussuaq to Paris on a European airline.

L'Austral

Per person starting at
$15,980
Superior Stateroom
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Superior Stateroom
8 cabins, 226 sq ft, located on Le Champollion Deck. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area and private bath.
Deluxe Stateroom
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Deluxe Stateroom
28 cabins, 200 sq ft with private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom - Deck 4
200 sq ft with 43 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom - Deck 5
200 sq ft with 43 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom - Deck 6
200 sq ft with 43 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Deluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite
3 suites, 290 sq ft with 54 sq ft private balcony, located on the Le France Deck. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, desk, minibar, private bath.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite - Deck 5
398 sq ft with 86 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, communicating cabins available. Separate living area, private bath.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite - Deck 6
398 sq ft with 86 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, communicating cabins available. Separate living area, private bath.
Owner's Suite
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Owners Suite
484 sq ft with 97 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, communicating cabins available. Separate living, dining areas, private bath with large tub and shower, minibar, 2 flat screen TVs, DVD, CD, and IPOD, Video on demand, Satellite phone

Notes

Please note:
Fares are based on double occupancy and are capacity controlled. Rates may increase at any time as the ship sells out and subject to change without notice.

*Rates are capacity controlled and are subject to change without notice.

Cruise fares are per person and include the following:
• Round-trip flight between Paris and Kangerlussuaq in economy class, on European airline
• Meet and greet at the airport
• Gratuities to onboard crew, local guides and drivers
• Airport / port / airport transfers
• English-speaking assistance
• Separate luggage transfer between the airport and port
• All meals while on board the ship
• Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner
• Mineral water, tea, filter coffee, a selection of white, red and rosé wines offered during meals; afternoon tea
• Open Bar (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
• Evening entertainment and events
• Luggage transfer from pier to the ship and vice versa
• 24h room service (special selection)
• Highly experienced bilingual (French-English) Expedition team.
• Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite
• Park entry fees into protected areas
• Free and unlimited Wi-Fi (Internet access may be slower or in some situations interrupted, depending on certain geographic locations or other circumstances beyond our control).

Cruise fares do not include:
• Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
• Optional Spa package to be booked prior your departure; please ask for more information
• Optional shore excursions
• Beverages other than the ones mentioned
• Laundry services, hair salon and à la carte Spa treatments
• Personal expenses, on board medical consultations, and drug prescriptions
• Cancellation/luggage/assistance/repatriation/medical insurance(s)
• Visa, disembarkation taxes, environmental taxes and/or national park fees if applicable

Expedition programs include activities such as Zodiac outings (sometimes with "wet landing"), moderate walks, to more active hikes, all accompanied by your expedition team of naturalist guides. Certain zodiac outings will not allow for landings. Landings will depend on weather conditions, position of ice and winds, and the state of the sea. These can force a change of plans at any time. A reasonable level of mobility is required to enjoy this expedition.
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Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!
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