Highlights of Greenland
Early Summer in Greenland: muskox calves, icebergs and whale watching
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Vacation Style Holiday TypeCulture, Discovery, Family, Guided Tours, History, Short Breaks, Trekking, Wildlife
Activity Level Moderate
Group Size Small Group
Led by Big Chill Adventures co-founders Sarah Aciego and Mindy Cambiar, this all-inclusive trip focuses on exploring rugged and fantastic landscapes of pristine beauty and exotic, arctic wildlife that is abundant in this, one of the last frontiers.
We have chosen destinations and added a number of activities designed to yield adventure opportunities of the highlights that West Greenland has to offer: calving glaciers and palatial icebergs near Ilulissat, dogsledding and indigenous life on Disko Island, musk ox and reindeer close to the ice sheet in Kangerlussuaq, and an open-boat tour of the fjords surrounding the capital city of Nuuk. Along the way, we will provide opportunities for kayaking or a midnight boat ride amongst icebergs, all-day hikes on primitive trails, and even some mountain biking.
We will take care of everything you need to interact with the Greenland environment up close and personal from the time you step off the plane in Greenland to your departure from the country. The lodges and casual itinerary are guaranteed to offer great adventure opportunities while the meals and other details are sure to please. Small group, maximum 8. Moderate walking and hiking every day, with potential for strenuous physical activity, and alternatives for those with health conditions that preclude strenuous activity.
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners & dining
- All accommodation
- All transportation once in Iceland including flight to Greenland
- Expert tour and trekking guides for entire journey
- Travel insurance and other emergencies
- Visa fees and entry clearing fees
- Liquors, beers and alcoholic beverages
- Flights to Iceland
Arrival in Iceland
Typically, flights into Iceland arrive early in the morning. We will arrange transportation for you to get from the airport to the hotel in Reykjavik after you land. You will be able to leave your bags at the desk while you explore Reykjavik until check-in time. Our first meet-up of the Big Chill Adventure teamwill be in the hotel lobby, and then we headout for dinner at one of our favorite restaurant in Reykjavik. After dinner everyone is free to explore the town on your own or restup in your room before we meet first thing in the morning for breakfast! If you are interested in arriving a day early and being on your own, resting up or exploring, we can help you find accommodations and transport into town.
We will fly to Ilullisat, Greenland on an Air-Iceland domestic flight leaving from Reykjavik city airport. After checking in our bags and a light lunch we will head to the Jakobshavn Isbrae – the fastest moving glacier in Greenland and UNESCO World Heritage site. The easy walk will bring us right to the shoreline where an old settlement was discovered, used by both the Viking and Inuit people. The shoreline is littered with stranded icebergs and the fjord filled with 100-500m icebergs. The overlook provides a place to relax, imbibe some warm drinks,and chat about the local geology, glaciology, and ecology. And photograph an iconic and transient phenomena. On the way back to town, we will stop at the sled dog area where the whole region’s sled dog kennels take up several square miles of tundra. We will arrange to view a feeding where we can witness the interaction of the sled master and his working dogs.
Our first excursion will be to Eqi Sermia,where a large calving glacier will give you a feel of the scale and energy involved in how glaciers make icebergs. The early morning boat trip with a light breakfast takes several hours and the possibilities are very high that we will spot whales amongst the icebergs.The boat brings us right to the face of theglacier, where we will have lunch and spend1 1/2 – 2 hours watching and listening for an amazing calving to happen before our eyes (and cameras!). We will continue our boat journey along the coast of Disko Island, where we will look for whales migrating through Disko Bay. Our day will end at Qeqertarsuaq, a fishing village with a long Inuit and Danish history.
Today we explore Disko Island. Geologically, Disko Island is far younger and differentthan the mainland. The island mostly consistsof high and steep basalt mountains thatwere created by volcanic activity 25-65 millionyears ago. The name Qeqertarsuaq means ”the great island”, however theDanish name, Disko, refers to the shape of the island. Qeqertarsuaq (also known as Godhavn) is one of two towns on the entire island, the other is the small village of Kangersluk (Diskofjord). Todat we will split into two groups if needed – a hiking group and a leisurely group. Those who want to experience dog sledding and a longer hike will head up to the small ice cap, the group that wants to experience waterfalls, rock formations and rivers from low elevation will stay in town. Our evening will depend on the local boat schedule – either heading backto Ilulissat or spending a second night on Disko.
Our boat trip back to Ilulissat will have us inback in town on this fourth day of the trip,giving us time to explore the area around Ilulissat. Depending on boat timing, we will have come back around midnight the prior evening or midday today. This may include a visit to the local Inuit workshop where locals are carving Tupilaks, the small art museum featuring Greenlandic artists and the artist in residence or just relaxing on the deck at the hotel watching the icebergs drift by. We will have an opportunity to either walk or take a short boat trip to Rodebay where we will have dinner and we will arrange for a group to perform some of the Inuit drum ceremonies.
After breakfast we will say goodbye to Ilullisat and hello to Kangerlussuaq. We will be met in Kangerlussuaq by our local contacts active in the local Inuit community. Our friends use traditional techniques in utilizing flora and fauna in crafts, clothing, food and medicine. We will take two excursions with our friends to the foreground of the Greenland icesheet. On this first day, we will use 4×4 jeeps to travel into the tundra where we will get a short lesson in local flora and how it is used in cooking and herbal remedies. It will also provide our first real look at the Icesheet, which has been described as a “tsunami of ice”. The ice melt provides incredible waterfalls and rivers, and a flood plain frequented by the only wild muskox herd in southern Greenland. We will hope to see some of these muskox, as this week is still before hunting season commences. On our return there will be plenty of time to explore town, including the local museum.
Up on the Greenland Icesheet
After breakfast we will head once again out to the icesheet. We will have three short walking excursions to amazing geology and photographic opportunities! First, a trip to a glacial lake that catastrophically drains regularly,with icebergs actively produced by the ice margin. Second, a walk down to the ice margin where an ice cave has formed on top of a garnet-bearing schist. And finally, our walk onto the icesheet at the shallowest section.The ice is rough enough that we don’t need crampons and the small supra glacial rivers can be easily walked over. We will bring plenty of warm drinks and good food so we can eat picnic style at any time along the way. Of course all the while we will keep our eyes out for muskox, arctic hare, and arctic fox! When we are tired and ready tohead back we will get back in the 4×4’s and head to town for a gourmet dinner at Roklubben.
After breakfast, we will stop in to say goodbye to our new found friends in “Kanger”and board a short 55 minute flight to Nuuk,the capital city of Greenland in the Godthaabsfjord. The regional geology of Godthaabsfjord hosts the Isua Greenbelt, rocks that are 3.8 billion years old! On this first afternoon in Nuuk, we will make a choice about what we would like to do in the afternoon. For those who have signed up, we will take a helicopter to the top of the ice sheet. Here, the ice sheet margin is all glaciers dumping into the sea or onto large floodplains. This sector of the ice is also very special in that there are large (mile wide) supra glacial lakes accessible by helicopter. We will also have the opportunity to explore the capital city, visiting some local Inuit women who still make the national costume by hand, the cultural center and art museum.
After breakfast, we will have an exciting adventure. An open boat ride will take us to Kapisillit through a beautiful icefjord. We spend around 2 hours on the boat, bringing us to an area filled with icebergs and old viking settlements. We will walk around a local fishing village giving us an opportunity to see first hand how the remote fishing villages of Greenland are adapting to the 21st century. On the way back to the capital city, we will stop for dinner in Qooqqut, at Restaurant Qooqqut Nuan. Great chefs prepare food with local ingredients of fish and caribou/reindeer.
Unfortunately, this is our departure day. We will head to Reykjavik on a direct AirIceland flight arriving at the domestic city airport. We will arrange transport to a local hotel or to the international airport.
- Download pdf Full Itinerary
Warm beds and hot showers at every stop along the way.
Bring a couple of options!
Waterproof, winter boots and slippers (for the hotel).
You are welcome to pick up items from duty free on your way into the country.
The Two Mile Time Machine
This Cold Heaven