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Greenland's Ilulissat Icefjord UNESCO Site

Great Greenland Adventure

Ilulissat to Scoresby Sound - Example 26 Day Cruise aboard M/S Balto
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Embark on a 26-day Great Greenland Adventure Expedition aboard M/S Balto and have a magnificent journey from west to east. This trip will be packed with captivating tales of olden times, the Inuit way of life, Norse history, and breathtaking natural wonders. 

This voyage will take you through stunning landscapes and rare geological formations, including narrow fjords, caves, and hot springs. You will also behold magnificent towering icebergs and awe-inspiring glacier faces. The abundant waters will offer opportunities to encounter various whale species such as humpback, minke, or pilot whales as you sail between massive icebergs under the never-setting sun. Navigate to the eastern coast and explore "the forbidden coast," a rugged and uncharted coastline that is seldom visited. 
Musk Ox in GreenlandMusk Ox in GreenlandArctic Hare in GreenlandM/S BaltoGeological formations in GreenlandTowering icebergs in GreenlandColorful houses in GreenlandIcebergs in GreenlandGlaciers in GreenlandGreenland's Ilulissat Icefjord UNESCO Site
Highlights
  • Experience the unchartered Eastern Coast of Greenland
  • Discover Greenland's stories and myths from the Tunumiit culture
  • Explore Greenland's wildlife - Polar bears and a variety of whale species
  • Encounter unique landscapes and formations, including fjords, caves, hot springs, and icebergs
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrival in Greenland

You arrive to the third biggest town of Greenland, Ilulissat, in the afternoon. Immediately upon arrival you are struck by the natural beauty that surrounds you, with hills, glaciers and a bay filled with icebergs. The remoteness from the local's everyday life is obvious! You check in at your hotel, with breath-taking views of the ice-choked waters.

Day 2: Ilulissat | Embarkation

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning, you explore the beautiful surroundings of Ilulissat and plan a small hike to the World UNESCO heritage site of the Sermermiut Valley. The scenery in the Ilulissat ice fjord filled with huge icebergs is just beyond imagination and truly sets the standard for your exploration the next weeks.

You board M/S Balto in the afternoon and begin your epic voyage of more than 2000 nautical miles along one of the most stunning shorelines of the world; all the way from West Greenland to the last outpost of civilization in the far Northeast Greenland.

You continue to explore the ice-choked area around the Ilulissat ice fjord looking for a rather ice-free passage out of the harbour, before you head towards the beautifully situated settlement of Qeqertarsuaq further west in Disko Bay.

You are now on a voyage in true expedition style and your exact route is depending on weather and ice and the itinerary must be kept flexible! When opportunities arise, you will make interesting landings and Zodiac cruises.

Day 3-8: Expedition cruising along the Greenlandic West Coast

  • Ship
  • 6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners
Next morning, you plan on doing a small hike to get a different view on the tremendous icebergs situated close to the lovely Qeqertarsuaq. In the afternoon, you might go for a Zodiac Cruise at the basaltic cliffs just East of Qeqertarsuaq. 

You are constantly on the lookout, since you are possibly sailing through Humpback whale feeding grounds as you are passing gigantic icebergs in the Disko Bay area. 

You now continue south via an interesting passage past Sisimiut, sailing along small islands, fjords and cliffs. As you now have left the ice filled Disko Bay behind, only occasional icebergs will pass our way. Next day, you plan to enter the magical Eternity Fjord (Kangerlussuatsiaq), where huge mountains up to 2000 meters ascend straight from the ocean. Here, rather small, but extraordinary steep valley glaciers flow down from the mountain cliffs; one of the real landscape highlights of the west coast of Greenland.

Next day, you aim to visit Nuuk. The capital’s setting is stunning, and the bay is sometimes visited by Minke, Pilot or Humpback whales. You pay a visit to the National Museum, Greenland’s largest museum of cultural history. The collections come from all over the country, brought from various archaeological and small museum displays over recent years and the visit gives us great insight into the many different cultures of Greenland. 

Our journey continues south, and in favorable weather conditions you might navigate further away from the shore in order to search for whales along the continental shelf. Along the route, you also hope to stop by the abandoned mining town of Ivittuut – one of the few places in the world where naturally occurring cryolite was discovered. During a hike, you have good chances of seeing Muskox. You are also exploring the astonishing «ghost town» that was left when the discovery of synthetical cryolite was making mining here obsolete.

Day 9-11: The surprising diversity of the South Coast

  • Ship
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
You plan to visit Qaqortoq, the largest city in Southern Greenland, beautifully situated under the mountain slopes and surrounded by fjords. You also plan to venture to Hvalsey Church, the best-preserved Norse ruin in Greenland. Close by, you also find Eriksfjord, named after Erik the Red, a Norse explorer believed to have founded the first settlement in Greenland.

This area has many stories to tell. You learn more about the Inuit cultures and their great respect of and symbiotic relationship with environment and animals. During periods of weather change and animal numbers declining, amulets and fishing or hunting artefact became objects of great beauty and artistry. Of respect and love for the animals, who give themselves to sustain the Inuit life and culture, offerings are made to the sea goddess Sedna, to release the animals’ souls. Still today, Inuit carry a small jug of fresh water when hunting seal. After a seal is killed it is given fresh water, so its spirit will not go thirsty. 

You will have many opportunities to learn about stories and legends, different eras and people that migrated to Greenland, the conflicts and ultimate demise of the once powerful Norse civilization.

But this part of Greenland offers much more than history and culture! It also invites us to natural hot springs, bird cliffs, remote islands and deep fjords characterized by high mountain peaks and playful whales. You explore the hot springs of Uunartoq and enjoy a bath in these warm-tempered natural bathtubs, with breath-taking views of mountain peaks and drifting icebergs. 

You continue south towards Nanortalik and Prince Christian Sound. You travel into this extraordinary and narrow fjord system through its rugged western entrance. A mountainous landscape surrounds us with steep cliffs plunging into the fjord and peaks rising up to 2000 meters. And when it is time to exit the fjord in the east, the resemblance to Mordor, in Lord of the rings, is striking.

Day 12-25: “The forbidden coast” – natural wonders of the East Coast

  • Ship
  • 14 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners
When entering East Greenland, you sail along an unbelievable wild and uncharted coastline. A fair amount of our time the next couple of days will be at sea travelling North again. The strong East Greenlandic current is meanwhile carrying a parade of icebergs southwards. Glacier fronts calve straight into the ocean and there are many unexplored unnamed fjords. Weather and ice conditions decide our course of exploration more than ever! You aim to visit Umivik Bay, which was chosen as the launching point for the brave pioneering westward crossing over the Greenland ice sheet by Fridtjof Nansen in 1888. 

As you reach the large Sermelik Fjord system near Tasiilaq, you are greeted by icebergs of all shapes and sizes, in a never-ending spectrum of blue and you collect some glacier ice for our drinks. This fjord system is awe-inspiring and could be explored for days. You make several remote anchorages and are constantly on the lookout for marine mammals! 

You continue to the town of Tasiilaq via a tiny secret passage. With its 2000 inhabitants it is the largest settlement in East Greenland. It is home to an older and different Inuit culture, where shamanism and native culture is much more vibrant and alive than in other parts of Greenland. Here you are closer to the rural and original Greenland culture that most visitors unfortunately never experience! During our visit here, you will try to organize story telling of local myths and legends, as the one about tupilaqs. In Greenlandic Inuit religion, a tupilaq was an avenging monster fabricated by a practitioner of witchcraft or shamanism by using various objects such as animal bone, skin, hair or sinew. If lucky, you get to witness some ritual or traditional singing. 

When you leave the Tasiilaq district northbound you are finally entering the Forbidden Coast of Greenland where travel even in this day and age means real exploration! You are visiting places where you might as well be the only visitors that very year. Thus, the following places are just examples of our possibilities. Weather and (now finally also) sea ice conditions play the key role for our day-to-day planning.  

As you sail North above the Arctic Circle again, you get to experience the eastern wild, beautiful and unchartered coastline first hand. But you also see that even in these seemingly remote regions human influence has altered nature. The remains of the former US American air base Bluie East Two (1942-47) stand as a monument of human destruction midst the Greenlandic wilderness. Visiting this place is nevertheless extremely exciting. 

In the ice choked Tuttilik Fjord, meaning the place where the reindeer live (a long time ago), you hope to go ashore and explore some abandoned Inuit winter houses. With some luck, you might also find the memorial built in honor of the famous explorer Gino Watkins that vanished here in 1932 while hunting seals from his kayak. 

As you continue north, you enter some of the wildest coastal landscapes in Greenland. In favorable conditions, you enter Kangerlussuaq Fjord and Watkins Fjord with beautiful hiking possibilities.  

In this area, you could also experience the first severe sea ice encounters during our voyage. Due to the cold East Greenlandic current, sea ice is normally blocking the entrance of Scoresby Sound until mid-July. But at the start of August the passage now has usually opened up reasonably. Still, every year is different and thus you have to adapt our plans to the sea ice concentration in that very year. If you encounter a fair amount of sea ice, you also want to make the most of it - scouting for ice-loving animals like seals or other marine mammals. 

A little bit further up the coast is Nansen Fjord, which lies directly south from the impressive Gunnbjørn fjeld, Greenland’s (and the Arctic’s) highest mountain, measuring 3694 meters. You have now entered the area where you are most likely to see Polar bears and you intensify our scouting! Polar bear sightings are not an everyday thing in Greenland, but if you wish to see one, the leg from here to Scoresby Sound offers the best chances. 

As you explore the area of Rømer Fjord, Deichmann Fjord and Steward Island our chances of seeing polar bears increase. On rare occasions even narwhals have been spotted here. 

On our final days you aim to venture into Scoresby Sound, the world’s largest fjord system. Here, you might visit Vikinge Bay a sheltered place perfect for Zodiac cruising amongst magnificent basaltic columns and icebergs. Hall Bredning is a place where huge icebergs from the deeper fjords tend to accumulate; icebergs in a density and size you have not seen since leaving Ilulissat at the very start of our voyage. Though, the difference now is the magnificent mountain scenery in the background giving us even new perspectives. Finally, landing at Sydkap, you might get another chance to see Muskox or Arctic hare. 

Day 26: Constable Point - Reykjavik | Disembarkation

In the morning, you disembark in Constable Point for your flight (Mandatory Flight package) to Reykjavik, Iceland, where you spend one night in a hotel.

Please note: Your exact route will depend on ice, weather conditions and wildlife as well as permissions and restrictions from local authorities. The places mentioned are just examples of some of the many sites this region of Greenland has to offer. You always strive to maximize your experience. Please remember that flexibility is the key to a successful expedition!

Ship/Hotel

M/S Balto

Dining Room
Saloon
Bar

Reykjavik - Hotels

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$21,890
Cabin
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Double Cabin
Located on the lower deck, three cabins featuring twin beds, portholes, and private facilities.
M/S Balto Cabins
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Superior Cabin
Located on the main deck, one larger cabin featuring twin beds, windows, and private facilities.
Owner's Suite
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Owner's Suite
Located on the main deck, one large superior cabin with a double bed, windows, and private facilities.
Single Cabin
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Single Cabin
Located on the lower deck, two cabins available for single occupancy.

Notes


Included
  • 25 Breakfasts, 24 Lunches, 24 Dinners
  • 25 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • 100% Climate Compensated
  • Coffee and tea on board
  • 1 Expedition Leader and 1 guide
  • Guiding ashore and talks on board
  • Comprehensive information material before the expedition
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Medical travel insurance, including emergency medical attention and evacuation coverage with a minimum of $100,000 of evacuation coverage is required.
  • Mandatory flight package Constable Point to Reykjavik - USD 1050 per person

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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