Day 1 – Reykjavik, Iceland
After making your own way to Reykjavik pier, embark the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon.
Days 2-3 – West and North-West Iceland
One third of Iceland’s coastline is in the Westfjords, and the entire peninsula is carved and cut by long fjords. The Westfjords region is home to Látrabjarg; the westernmost point in Europe, and one of the continent’s most remarkable seabird breeding cliffs, a delight for birdlovers. It is one of the best places in Iceland to photograph puffins, an opportunity you’ll have on a Zodiac cruise, weather permitting.
The small town of Ísafjörður is the largest town in the Westfjords peninsula, with some 2,600 inhabitants. It is an ancient church site and has been a trading post since the 16th century. The growth of the town was triggered by salt fish production and fishing industry still remains the town’s main activity, along with tourism which has grown significantly in recent years.
Nearby Hornstrandir nature reserve is a peninsula accessible only by boat or by foot and inhabited by Arctic foxes, seals, birds and the occasional hiker. We plan to Zodiac cruise along the shoreline of Hornstrandir nature reserve and attempt a landing, subject to approval by the park ranger.
Day 4 – At Sea
Cross the Denmark Strait to Jan Mayen island accompanied by sea birds while keeping a look out for whales. Enjoy a presentation from our team of experts, get to know your fellow expeditioners, stay fit at the gym or treat yourself to a massage in the wellness centre.
Day 5 – Jan Mayen
The approach to Jan Mayen is spectacular. The huge Beerenberg volcano (2,277 metres/7,470 feet altitude) is the world’s northernmost active volcano, and last erupted in 1985. The northern part of the island is a great place to look for whales and dolphins, and contains impressive glaciers, some of which reach the sea. If the weather is friendly, we will try to land at Kvalrossbukta, a relatively sheltered bay on the island’s west coast. This is one of the landings used to supply the weather station Olonkinbyen, situated on the eastern side of the island. We hope to land on front of the Norwegian station at Olonkinbyen, stop to visit the weather station before embarking on a three-hour hike (weather permitting) to the other side of the island where the Greg Mortimer will be waiting for us in Kvalrossbukta, and our trusty Zodiacs will transport us back to the ship.
Days 6-7 – At Sea
The sea around Jan Mayen offers excellent whale-watching opportunities (bottlenose, fin, and perhaps bowhead whales in the pack ice). Sail towards Svalbard, searching for the ice edge as we continue north, retracing the route of Dutch explorer Willem Barents who discovered Spitsbergen and the Barents Sea, named after him. It’s breeding season for the harp seals and we hope to see them breeding on the sea ice. As we approach Svalbard, all eyes will be focused on spotting polar bears in the pack ice.
Days 8 - 10 – Northern Svalbard & Northwest Corner of Spitsbergen
We plan to cross 80° North, always on the lookout for polar bears on the pack ice, to reach Moffen Island, famous for its large walrus colony. In the coming days, depending on the weather and sea ice conditions, we may explore sites including the incredibly scenic Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay), a fjord headed by two giant glaciers. Perhaps spend time ashore to hike on the lush tundra amongst the early summer flowers and observing the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs. Keep watch for polar bears and Arctic fox and feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of a Dutch whaling settlement, Smeerenberg on Amsterdamøya. We may visit Raudfjord which features fascinating geology, glaciers and bird cliffs. A possible hike on Ytre Norskya offers splendid views to the north coast of Spitsbergen and maybe even to the North Pole in clear weather!
Day 11 – Longyearbyen
During the early morning we cruise into Longyearbyen. Farewell your expedition team and fellow expeditioners as we all continue our onward journeys. Enjoy a town tour of Longyearbyen before an onward transfer to the airport in the afternoon.