11 Nights In the Wake of the Vikings: a Voyage from Iceland to Greenland

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Greenland’s east coast still beckons explorers from Iceland. Breathtaking fjords define this seldom-seen region. Whales and seabirds are abundant here. Photographers, birders, and hikers will be in awe.

 

Bask in the geothermal springs. Explore the ruins of a settlement founded by Erik the Red! Visit a quaint fishing village and Greenland’s bustling capital, Nuuk. Sail mighty Sondre Stromfjord to Kangerlussuaq—gateway to the ice cap.

 

Sail west, like the Vikings: spectacular, surprising Greenland awaits!

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Departure Date

DAY 1 Reykjavík

Iceland’s cosmopolitan capital, Reykjavík (“steamy bay”) was established in 874 AD. Powered by geothermal energy, Reykjavík is widely considered one of the cleanest, greenest cities on Earth.

 

Despite centuries of relative isolation, today Reykjavík is a contemporary city with plenty to see and do. The National Culture House preserves treasures like the Poetic Edda, and the Norse Sagas in their original manuscripts. We depart Reykjavík in the evening aboard the Ocean Endeavour.

 

DAY 2 Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands)

Vestmannaeyjar lies off the south coast of Iceland and comprises fourteen islands, numerous rocks and skerries. Only the largest island, Heimaey, is inhabited.

 

Numerous species of seabirds, including the famous puffins, nest in the steep rock faces along the ocean cliffs. The volcanically active area has seen two major eruptions in recent times: the formation of the island of Surtsey in 1963, and the Eldfell eruption ten years later that destroyed much of Heimaey and nearly blocked its harbour.

 

DAY 3 At Sea

Sailing west from Iceland, we will truly be in the wake of the Vikings. Norse explorers set out from Iceland a millennium ago in open longboats. Their destination: Greenland. Later, they would also reach Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland.

 

We’ll be watching for marine mammals and bird life as we sail in these rich northern waters. Along the way, our expedition team will enrich your understanding of the archeology, history, culture, and wildlife that await us in Greenland!

 

DAY 4 East Greenland

An expedition day on Greenland’s east coast means that we’ll be cruising in the ice, looking for opportunities for Zodiac exploration. As ever, our expedition team will be on deck looking for bears, seals, and humpback whales as we navigate a coastline traced with innumerable fjords and dotted with pack ice.

 

DAY 5 Ikerasassuaq (Prince Christian Sound)

We’ll be scouting for wildlife and vistas as we approach Ikerasassuaq through ice. This remote and stunning body of water joins the Irminger and Labrador seas. We are among the islands of the Cape Farewell Archipelago, near Greenland’s southernmost tip.

 

Craggy mountain peaks tower over narrow fjords. Glacial tongues plunge toward the water. Conditions are favourable for calving icebergs, while strong tidal currents limit the formation of sea ice.

 

DAY 6 South Greenland

South Greenland lives up to its namesake; here, the land is fertile and agriculture thrives. Farms and vegetable husbandry contrast with the barren ice that covers so much of the country. Jagged mountains rise from beyond green pastures, with sheep farms directly bordering ice fjords. Here, Norse settlement history intersects with contemporary Greenland life.

 

DAY 7 Hvalsey

Hvalsey site was a major centre in South Greenland. The site, which has the ruins of two stone great halls, had an additional 14 houses close to a church. Hvalsey Church is the best-preserved Norse ruin in Greenland. The last known official record from the original Norse colony is of a wedding held here in September 1408!

 

DAY 8 Brattahlid

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Brattahlid—meaning “steep slope,”—lies at the head of Tunulliarfik Fjord. In this location, the famous Viking explorer Erik the Red had his estate. His descendants made their homes here until the mid-1400s. This area features the best farming conditions in Greenland.

 

Here we will find a reconstruction of the first Norse church in Greenland, as well as a Viking longhouse. There are substantial archeological remnants here, preserving the legends of the Norse.

 

DAY 9 Sermersooq

The Sermersooq region of Greenland has a stunning myriad of mountain peaks, glaciers and deep fjords. Our time will be spent on the western coast of the region, where records of human habitation stretch back over 1,500 years. We’ll explore by Zodiac or by foot, as landing conditions permit. We’ll keep a look out for Nattoralik (white-tailed eagles) and enjoy the lush vegetation of southwest Greenland.

 

DAY 10 Nuuk

Greenland’s capital bridges old and new. The old harbour region of town includes many buildings dating from the Danish colonial days. The modern downtown core includes shopping, cafes and restaurants, and public institutions with a European flair.

 

The Greenland National Museum is one of Nuuk’s outstanding features; the world-famous Qilakitsoq mummies are housed here. The museum’s exhibits also offer in-depth information about colonial, Norse, and Inuit presence in Greenland—a must-see.

 

DAY 11 Qeqqata Kommunia

The west Greenland coastline is a rich mixture of fishing communities, many islands and complex coastal waterways. The waters are relatively warm here, due to the West Greenland Current and the sub-Arctic location—making for more lush vegetation. We will be making an expedition stop here to explore the landscape of wild Greenland.

 

DAY 12 Kangerlussuaq

Sondre Stromfjord is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 168 kilometres of superb scenery. We end our adventure by sailing up this dramatic fjord as the sun rises to greet us.

 

Kangerlussuaq, the town at its eastern head, is a former US Air Force base and Greenland’s primary flight hub. Here we will disembark the Ocean Endeavour and transfer to the airport for our return charter flight.

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