East Greenland - Scoresby Sund
© Rinie van Meurs/Oceanwide Expeditions
A walrus keeps an eye on a passing zodiac
MOL14 17 – 26 September 2009 (09 nights) aboard Professor Molchanov
A voyage to the astounding fjords of the east coast of Greenland, where the Greenland people hunt, and where we may encounter Polar Bears, as well as a good chance of the Aurora Borealis in the arctic autumn!
We shall sail into the superb fjords of East Greenland, including, if ice conditions permit, Scoresby Sund, the longest fjord in the world, or Nansen Fjord, filled with icebergs and surrounded by high mountains like Gunnbjørn Fjeld, the highest mountain in Greenland. In these fjords we have a good chance of seeing Polar Bears as well as encountering Greenlanders on hunting expeditions. The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are intensive in these areas in September.
We are offering these cruises on the Professor Molchanov, Professor Multanovskiy, and Aleksey Maryshev, expedition cruise ships that spend much of their time in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Please note that the following itinerary is for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions and in order to take advantage of opportunities to see wildlife. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises.
Arrive at Akureyri airport and make the short journey to the small port of the same name to join the ship. In the early evening we leave Iceland and sail north towards the Denmark Strait.
At sea, sailing north through the Denmark Strait. We are almost certain to see Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Gannets and rafts of Common Guillemots and Razorbills. We cross the Arctic Circle and continue north, perhaps seeing whales. In the evening we will spot our first icebergs appear as we approach the east coast of Greenland near Kap Brewster.
In the morning we sail along the ragged and glaciated Volquart Boons Coast, here we may organise a zodiac cruise along one of the glacier fronts of this coast, and have our first landing near a glacier, like Maanegletsjer or in Vikingebugt. Later we land on Danmarksø where there are the remains of an Inuit settlement abandoned around 200 years ago. The circular ‘tent rings’ of stones indicate the summer houses, while the winter houses can be seen closer to a small cape. The sites are excellently preserved, allowing entrances and even bear-proof meat caches to be identified. There are also grave sites. In the evening we continue our sailing through the beautiful fjords to the west, choked with ice-bergs.
We go ashore at Cape Hofmann Halvø, a reliable spot for viewing Musk Oxen. We may also spot Rock Ptarmigans and at sea Great Northern Divers. The landscape here is particularly beautiful, especially during autumn when the Dwarf Willow and Dwarf Birch change colour. Arctic Blueberry and Crowberry add their own colourful touch - the berries are tasty too! In the evening we sail through the fjord towards Scoresby Land enjoying the contrast between the warm autumnal colours of the vegetation on shore, backed by huge dark mountains, and the cold blue of the icebergs.
On our way to Sydkap in Scoresby Land in the morning, we encounter huge icebergs, some over 100 m high and more than a kilometre in length. Most of the bergs are grounded as the fjord is only about 400 m deep here. We land near Sydkap to view the remains of the Thule culture winter houses. As many as 20 people lived in these tiny houses, hunting Greenland Whales and using their vertebrae to build the houses. We may also land at Gurreholm on Jameson Land. The landscape here is gently undulating. Musk Oxen and Collared Lemmings - survive on the meagre vegetation.
In the morning we land in Illoqqortoormiut, the biggest settlement near Scoresby Sund with about 500 inhabitants. At the post office you can buy stamps for your postcards, or just wander around to see the sledge dogs and the drying skins of seals, Musk Ox and Polar Bear. After lunch we will sail south, passing the amazing landscape of the Blosseville Coast where groups of Harp Seals can be spotted among the ice floes.
At the mouth of Nansen Fjord we spot Gunnbjørns Fjeld, at 3,700m: it is both the highest peak in Greenland and also the highest mountain north of the Arctic Circle. We sail into Nansen Fjord another magnificent landscape with an enormous calving glacier front, which we can easily approach. At the inner side of the fjord along the northern shore there are ample landing and zodiac cruising oppor-tunities. We meet often tame Rock Ptarmigans with young, and on the ice-floes Bearded Seals. If we can not sail into Nansen fjord due to glacier ice, which often fills the fjord, we will sail into Mikis Fjord, bounded by steep cliffs. The fjord is a good place to spot Ringed Seals and Harp Seals. At Södalen at the head of Mikis Fjord we land in a marshy delta. There are good populations of both Common and Arctic Redpolls, as well as a chance of seeing flocks of Barnacle Geese and Pink-footed Geese.
In the morning, we head south for Kangerlussuaq fjord where glaciers reach the sea creating a fabulous landscape of glacier fronts, icebergs and cliffs. On shore there are the remains of dwellings of Thule culture people. We conclude the day with a Zodiac trip to Skaergårdshalvø, a popular summer hunting ground for the people of Ammassalik. Most years a number of families arrive here in early summer and stay until the end of the hunting season and we might be able to meet them. In the afternoon we will sail south-east towards the Denmark Strait.
The whole day at sea offers excellent opportunities to see large whales and seabird migration and, at night the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
Arrive at Keflavik, and transfer for the airport for the flight home.
The chances that the sea-ice will allow us to sail into the Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord and Scoresby Sund in September (based on experiences from 1992 until 2007) is about 85%. In case we can not sail into the Scoresby Sund we will resort to a programme in the East Greenland fjords more to the south.
M/v Professor Molchanov
The ships are modern, ice-strengthened research vessels, built in Finland for the Russian Academy of Science. They are under long-term contract to Oceanwide Expeditions and have been converted for passenger use and are ideally suited to expedition cruising in polar areas. They comply with the highest international safety and environmental regulations, as well as the Arctic and Antarctic shipping guidelines. The passengers are accommodated in triple, twin, superior cabins or a suite. All cabins are ‘outside’ and most cabins have private facilities. The public areas are comfortable and cosy and include a dining room which could also act as the lecture room, a bar with reference books, a small infirmary and a sauna. The best viewing places on board for spotting wildlife are the bridge (where passengers are welcome) and the open-deck areas. The ships carry a full complement of Zodiac crafts, for both cruising and landing ashore. Usually on our voyages the Chef will organize a Polar barbecue on deck. Surrounded by an impressive landscape and accompanied by your fellow-travellers, staff members and the Russian crew members, this event is one to remember.
Accommodation : Cabins as described above subject to availability.
Travel : A taxi can be used for the transfer from the airport to the vessel. We can arrange flights and overnight accommodation for you if necessary.
Leaders: Guides from Oceanwide Expeditions
Prices per person:
Please enquire for single supplement.
The prices are per person and are fully inclusive of the cruise, meals during the voyage, shore excursions by Zodiac and activities throughout the voyage, lectures and leadership by expedition staff, taxes and port charges and pre-departure information.
The prices exclude taxi transfers Akureyri and Keflavik port – airport, return flights UK/Akureyri and Keflavik return, travel insurance, passport and visa expenses, Government arrival and departure taxes, meals ashore, optional tips to leaders and crew, drinks, excess baggage charges and other personal expenses.