Arctic Fjords Expedition: Polar History, Nature and Culture
Discover the extraordinary Arctic fjords of Iceland, Greenland, and Norway that have shaped Norway’s distinctive culture of fortitude, exploration, and friluftsliv, Norwegians unique bond with nature, over the centuries.
On this amazing expedition, you'll explore the magnificent nature of Greenland in Scoresbysund, the biggest fjord system in the world, which extends 217 miles inland and offers spectacular scenery and tranquil surroundings.
Fly from the US to Reykjavik on a direct flight from Seattle and few other US gateways. (Non-direct flights from the US to Reykjavik are also available).
You’ll arrive in Reykjavik in the early morning. Meet your guide at the airport and depart to hotel where you can have breakfast, store you luggage, and refresh before embarking on a guided city tour of Reykjavik. Return to the hotel in early afternoon and check for an overnight stay, including breakfast.
Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is home to an impressive collection of interesting attractions and places of historic significance, from landmarks such as Hallgrímskirkja and the Pearl to the natural wonders in close proximity to the city – including glaciers, waterfalls, geysers, and mountains. On this tour you’ll visit all the main sites in Reykjavik. After the tour you will be taken to your hotel for check in. After check in, you’ll have time at your leisure. Consider planning a visit to the exquisite Blue Lagoon, an optional excursion.
Depart from the hotel via the Golden Circle tour, followed by embarkation onto the MS Fram.
The full-day Golden Circle tour takes you to the beautiful Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, a place of tremendous interest as a primary site of both Iceland’s geological and historical heritage. It is one of the most important Viking sites in the world, as it was the original site of Iceland’s parliament, the Althing. You’ll also visit the most beautiful waterfall of the country, Gullfoss. Nearby, you’ll also stop at the Geysir geothermal area with its many hot springs. You’ll enjoy a lunch buffet in the area and return to Reykjavik by passing through the Grimsnes region. Then you’ll arrive at the pier for embarkation.
Ísafjörður was an ancient church site before becoming a trading port in the 16th century. Today, it boasts charming streets of old timber houses, many of which have remained unchanged since the 18th century when the harbor was full of ships and Norwegian whaling crews. One of these timber houses, Turnhús, built in 1744, is now a maritime museum. Explore the city on your own or join the expedition team on optional shore excursions including hikes, horseback riding, and sampling the local cuisine.
Ittoqqortoormiit (or Scoresbysund) is the most isolated town in Greenland. With only 560 inhabitants, the trappers living here are the only people allowed to hunt within the Northeast Greenland National Park, the ‘Patagonia of the Arctic’. As you explore the town, you’ll probably notice the racks used by hunters to dry animal skins. The town is right next to the world’s largest and deepest multi-branched fjord system: Scoresbysund. A special basalt rock formation with horizontal lines runs through the cliffs, marking the transition to the even more desolate area of Northeast Greenland.
We start exploring the world’s largest fjord system. You will notice the change in climate as we leave the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream and enter the cold-water current that follows the coast of East Greenland. These are the conditions the early Norwegian explorers found on their pioneering expeditions to discover East Greenland and other polar destinations in both the Arctic and Antarctic: stunningly rugged beauty, untouched and unknown. Some of the places we visit on this expedition have not been visited by other humans for the last 200 years, if at all!
As we explore the Scoresbysund fjord system, we will attempt to land in several places. These landings are pure wilderness expeditions. Here we will see the remains of old Thule settlements. Ancestors of the Inuit people, the Thule lived along Greenland’s coasts and were the people the Vikings met when they sailed from Iceland to settle in southern Greenland in 982.
When we visit Syd Kap, the former trading post, you will see old blubber ovens and the remains of Thule dwellings. In Bjørne Øer, you can see even larger remains of an old Thule settlement. The hunters’ cabin in Hecla Havn is also a great place to spot birds and smaller mammals, including Arctic hare, lemming, and ptarmigans. At Viking Bay, you can study the columnar basalt rock formations or visit a large glacier. Qupaulakajik is significant for its abundance of plant fossils – fossils over 200 million years old can be found here.
The snow-capped mountains are almost alpine in nature, rising right out of the largest fjord systems on Earth to an altitude of more than 8,000 feet above sea level. The waters are scattered with large icebergs. Our expedition ships – some of the world’s most technologically advanced icebreakers – pass through these waters with ease, but for Norway’s early polar explorers, waters like these were treacherous. The first who dared to venture into these unknown regions, early Norwegian explorers sailed wooden ships with few and rudimentary navigational tools.
As we continue to explore this fjord, watch out for wildlife such as the all-white Arctic hare, the Arctic fox, or the very rare Arctic wolf. Turn your eyes to the sky to spot the white Greenland falcon, ptarmigan, snowy owl, and a variety of seabirds.
Sailing in the Scoresbysund fjord system is an experience of a lifetime. Exploring the world's biggest fjord, which stretches 217 miles inland, is like exploring a maze surrounded by spectacular snow-capped peaks. And don't forget to watch out for polar bears wherever you see ice!
The Norwegian island of Jan Mayen is one of the most isolated in the world. Located where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, the island is home to Beerenberg, the northernmost active volcano on Earth. Dutch whalers operated from Jan Mayen in the 16th century, but today only a Norwegian weather station accommodates a few brave individuals throughout the year who monitor the weather over the Norwegian Sea for the ships sailing there. Visits to Jan Mayen are extremely rare, especially from tourists. As one of the few vessels operating in this area, MS Fram and its crew will attempt to make a rare landing on this most exotic Arctic island.
Spending a day at sea is an opportunity for relaxing and enjoying lectures. Or take a stroll around MS Fram to see the many works commissioned by Norwegian artists.
As we reach the Norwegian mainland, we sail through the narrow Raftsund strait before navigating into the even narrower Trollfjord, where the vertical mountain walls rise right out of the sea. Then, we spend the day in Lofoten, giving you the opportunity to explore this spectacularly beautiful area. Known for its excellent fishing, extreme nature, and picturesque fishing villages, Lofoten was captured in the paintings of native son Gunnar Berg (Trøndelag 1863–1893), who also painted the Battle of Trollfjord, which took place in 1890.
Torghatten is one of the famous landmarks along the Helgeland coast, and from the deck you have front row seats to this mountain with a hole in the middle. According to Norwegian legend, the mountain was once a hat belonging to a troll king. To protect his daughter from the arrow of a rejected suitor, the troll king threw his hat in Trøndelag the arrow’s path. The arrow pierced the hat, which landed on the coast and turned to stone.
The island of Frøya is located off the coast of Trøndelag and is surrounded by more than 5,400 islets and reefs, making up an amazing archipelago. The islands are home to traditional fishing villages, some with only a few hundred inhabitants. Sistranda is the administrative center and a charming little village.
Although there is a modern undersea tunnel system connecting the major islands and mainland, boats are still an important mode of transportation, with many different ferry services operating between the islands in addition to fishing boats. A nearby trade school east of the island teaches sailing and building traditional Norwegian boats similar to those built by the Vikings. Keep your eyes open – maybe you’ll see one!
We will spend a day in Åndalsnes, a popular destination due to its location at the foot of spectacular mountains. The Trollstigen mountain road and Vermafossen Waterfall are also popular attractions here.
If you are interested in textiles, you may want to visit the Rauma Ullvarefabrikk, a factory that produces Norwegian wool as well as finished products such as garments and rugs made in the Norwegian tradition.
Our expedition ends in Bergen. Embark on a guided 3-hour city tour and visit sites such as Bergen’s colorful UNESCO-listed Bryggen district, which was built over the site of a Viking settlement. Then you’ll be transferred to the Scandic Neptun Hotel and check in for one night.
After breakfast, transfer to airport for your flight to US.
Note: Changing the timing of your return from Bergen to the US is available on request.
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