Jewels of the Arctic-Spitsbergen, Greenland, Iceland
Jewels of the Arctic combines the best of Spitsbergen and Greenland, with a taste of Iceland. Our ship-based adventure takes us from Spitsbergen’s rugged northwest coast comprising of mountains, tundra and fjords – and hopefully a polar bear or two! We cross the icy waters of the Greenland Sea making our way to Greenland’s remote east coast of icecaps, fantastic icebergs and fairytale landscapes of granite spires rising 1000 metres about exquisite fjords! We also have the opportunity to experience Greenland’s local Inuit culture, before making our way to Iceland. This voyage also offers wonderful opportunities for tundra walking, exploring fjords by ship & Zodiac, and viewing dramatic landscapes and wildlife.
This wondrous archipelago of Svalbard is the world’s most readily accessible bit of the polar north and one of the most spectacular places imaginable. Meaning ‘Island of the cold shores’, Svalbard is located between 74° - 81° N and 10° - 35° E and has a total land mass of 63,000 square kilometers.
Spitsbergen is the largest island is the Svalbard island archipelago. It was named by Dutchman, Willem Barents in 1596, when he was on his way to Novaya Zemlya, searching for a northern route to Asia. The island was first used as a whaling base in the 17th and 18th centuries, after which it was abandoned. Coal mining started at the beginning of the 20th century, and several permanent communities were established. The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 recognizes Norwegian sovereignty and established Svalbard as a free economic zone and a demilitarized zone. With a population of approximately 3000, Spitsbergen is still virtually an unspoilt wilderness.
Greenland is the world’s largest island, almost totally covered by the second largest icecap on earth, and boasts the world’s largest national park. Its east coast is sparsely settled by small communities of Inuit hunters who eke out a living in one of the harshest environments on earth. We will marvel at the complex geology of the oldest island in the world where we will see acres of gravel beaches, dumped by ice-age glaciers and intriguing flat-topped mesas striated with layers of ancient deposits rising dramatically between massive glaciers.
Iceland is one of the world’s youngest islands. Forged by fire and honed by ice, it is a geological treasure trove. Reykjavik, the capital, is a clean, sophisticated and progressive city. It’s worth venturing further afield prior to the voyage to get a glimpse of life in times gone by - quaint fishing villages, turf houses and sturdy Icelandic ponies.
• Cruise past Spitsbergen’s narrow sheltered waterways and fjords such as Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay) and Hornsund Fjord
• Wildlife-rich Arctic – polar bears, walrus, seals, reindeer, sea birds, musk oxen, Arctic fox and whales
• Visit historic sites including museums, whaling stations, geology and fossils
• Sail within 600 miles of the North Pole
• Visit the world’s largest National Park in North East Greenland, and the world’s largest fjord system, Scoresby Sund
• Hear the cracks of active glaciers as they create Greenland’s famous giant icebergs
• Witness the midnight sun as it creates nearly 24 hours of sunlight
• See Iceland’s unique landscape of fire and ice
Pre & Post Voyage Package:
A pre & post voyage package is available at an additional charge. The package includes overnight in Oslo hotel with half board (B,D), transfer with English speaking guide to Olso airport and one-way economy airfare Longyearbyen.
|Day 1||Embark Longyearbyen|
|Days 2 & 3||West Coast of Spitsbergen|
|Day 4||At Sea|
|Day 5||Approaching East Greenland|
|Days 6 to 10||Kaiser Franz Josef, Kong Oskar Fjords & Scoresby Sund|
|Days 11 & 12||Volquart Boon Coast|
|Day 13||At Sea|
|Day 14||Isafjordur – Reykjavik|
Today we will be met at the airport in Longyearbyen and taken on a sightseeing tour to explore the remote outskirts and village of Longyearbyen, the ‘capital’ of Spitsbergen. After our tour we will be transferred to the port in the late afternoon and board our ship, Polar Pioneer. Our voyage commences, cruising out of the beautiful Isfjorden, escorted by gliding fulmars and perhaps the occasional puffin.
Polar Pioneer is homely and strong, built to be a working vessel and refitted to a comfortable passenger standard. The mood on board is definitely casual. At sea we are totally self-sufficient. The days flow by whilst we travel snugly in our cocoon. A favorite pastime on board is to stand at the stern watching for seabirds, including graceful ivory gulls, kittiwakes and guillemots. They rise and fall skillfully, using the air currents created by the ship to gain momentum.
Depending on conditions, we may cruise either north or south along the west coast of Spitsbergen, stopping at intriguing places in search of the mighty polar bear.
Along Spitsbergen’s north coast we may explore places such as Woodfjorden and Leifdefjorden, where from our Zodiacs or kayaks we enjoy magnificent views of glaciers sweeping and tumbling into the sea. We may walk on smooth raised beach terraces to magnificent viewpoints, hike on flowering tundra where reindeer graze or visit trappers’ huts of yesteryear – all the while remaining alert for wandering polar bears.
We hope to enter the spectacular Hornsund Fjord in the south where we may take an early morning Zodiac cruise to admire the beautiful ice walls of the Samarin Glacier or take a stroll beneath the towering seabird cliffs at Sofiebogen. In Bellsund Fjord we are always on the lookout for beluga whales. We may visit the remnants of a Norwegian beluga whaling station from the 1930’s.
Across the fjord at Våraolbukta is a lush and stunning landscape where reindeer roam, Arctic flowers bloom in abundance and Arctic fox may be seen patrolling the little auk colony, where several thousand birds nest here amongst the boulders, coming and going in huge flocks. This is a beautiful place where we can stretch our legs before heading on a south-westerly course towards the East Greenland pack ice belt.
As we cruise southwest across the Greenland Sea – the main outlet of the Arctic Ocean – we may encounter pack ice where, if we are lucky, we will see polar bears hunting for prey.
The strong icy currents have isolated East Greenland from the rest of the world for millennia. These currents carry nutrients from the Polar Basin, attracting large numbers of fish, seals and whales. Climatic conditions and the concentration of ice in the vicinity often create thick morning fog that vanishes with the onset of the midday sun. Our experts will entertain us with fascinating talks on plants, animals and early explorers like Nansen, Andree and Scoresby.
As we approach East Greenland we may encounter more pack ice where we may see seals and a variety of seabirds, including northern Fulmar and migratory Brunnichs guillemots. Conditions permitting, there will be a good chance for kayakers to launch their sea kayaks today. The rest of the group may have the opportunity to make our first landing on the Greenland coast, weather permitting. This stretch of coastline is ripe for exploration, with its many secrets locked in place by drift ice for up to eight months each year. Home to polar bear, snowy owl and musk ox, it's the world's largest national park, covering 375,000 sq mi (972,000 km2); most of which is inland ice and the rest a composite fjord landscape.
We will attempt to enter Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, a remote and rarely visited fjord system with countless opportunities for exploration that lies within the North East Greenland National Park. Cruising through Kong Oskar Fjord we will marvel at the geological beauty of the mountains. We will then head south along the coast of Liverpool Land, with our passage dependent on ice conditions. We aim to reach Scoresby Sund, the world’s biggest fjord and a favorite hunting ground of the local Inuit. Massive glaciers dump into this fjord, the birthplace of the famous big Greenland icebergs.
We hope to visit the remote Inuit community of Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresby Town) and to hike across the tundra in search of ancient graveyards and summer villages occupied 3,000 years ago by Eskimos. This area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking in its maze of calm, interconnecting waterways. If we are lucky we may see musk oxen, Arctic hare and seals, and maybe if we are extremely lucky even a polar bear or narwhal, although due to the relentless pursuit of the local hunters, these sightings are often very rare.
In the next couple of days our itinerary may take us to Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord and Scoresby Sund. Landings may include:
Cape Humboldt is a beautiful bay on Ymer Island. There is a good chance to take a tundra walk and witness musk oxen graze. We will also keep a lookout for Arctic fox and ptarmigan. A lone trapper's hut looks over the bay and magnificent icebergs.
Sefstrom Glacier adorns the narrow peaked waterway in Alpefjord. Zodiac access is allowable and it is a pretty area, with Arctic flora growing in the autumn light.
Ittoqqortoormiit is Scoresby Sund’s colorful Inuit community of approximately 500 people. Feel free to explore the village, fascinating museum or sit quietly in the beautiful Lutheran Church. The people are friendly, and the young children vie for our attention from underneath their Arctic fox-fur jackets.
Sydkap in Scoresby Sund offers good walking and delightful views across the sound. Kayakers will have good opportunities to explore the lonely beaches. We may explore the ancient gravesites on the island, or the lakes with green tunnels and giant icebergs offer hours of enjoyment for kayak and Zodiac rides.
Other possible landing points in the area include: Rypefjord; O Fjord; Fonfjord; Bjorn Oya; Milne Land; Hekla Havn; and Denmark Island.
These days will be expeditionary days, exploring the East Greenland coast. Much of the region is unchartered territory and depending on weather and timing we’ll venture south exploring the bays and fjords, looking for new points of interest and places to land. In the afternoon of Day 12 we head into the Denmark Strait.
In the Denmark Strait, we cruise towards Iceland. We will be on the lookout for whale blows and the many seabirds that trail our ship in the uplifting thermals. We have time to relive our recent adventures, swap images and enjoy the last of the ocean air.
During the early morning we will arrive into Isafjordur, in the north west of Iceland. You and your luggage will be transferred to the airport to board your flight back into Reykjavik Domestic Airport. (PLEASE NOTE: This flight is included in the trip price.)
You will have the opportunity to farewell your fellow passengers as you continue on with your own travel arrangements.
We recommend that all passengers overnight in Reykjavik or Keflavik (closer to international airport) before continuing on with travel arrangements.
* Itinerary may be subject to change
|Per Person USD|
Rates Arctic 2016
Prices quoted are in US dollars, per person, twin share. Single occupancy is 1.7 times the twin share price. No single supplement applies if you are willing to share your cabin (tripe & twin cabins only). No refund for unused services.
Kayaking option: Spitzbergen Odyssey-$785, Jewels of the Arctic-$920.
Adventure options must be pre-booked and paid for prior to start of the trip. Space is subject to availability. Some activities require experience.
Jewels of the Arctic includes a flight between Isafjordur and Reykavik (or vice versa).
Airfare is not included except as noted above. All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.