Whilst on our outing, an exploration on land was in order, so we paddlers left our boats with Dave the zodiac driving guru and ventured on to land to check out the abandoned village. It was a great start to the voyage's kayaking program with the vixen of a kayak leader, Val Lubrik. Chatting with Val, it was easy to see that she was impassioned about why this is such a fab trip. She said it was the Quark people that make the difference. The staff are passionate, professional and diverse with a strong sense of adventure and fun. They come from all around the world and truly enjoy what they do. Their passion and energy are contagious. Quark Expeditions make the most of every available opportunity. And because they are specialised, in that they reach places that are off the beaten track, all the secret hideaways are known by their experienced crew and Expedition teams. The ships are small but spacious and offer an intimate experience as well as the opportunity for good fun and learning with staff and other guests.
On day three of the original itinerary, we planned a transit of Prins Christian Sund, and the excitement started on our approach, as the first narrow part of the entrance was seemingly blocked by a large iceberg. There was only a narrow gap between the iceberg and a small island holding us from either making it into the sound or having to turn back out into 40km winds to the Denmark Straits. After assessing the current (we were luckily going into the current, and did not have it behind us), soundings, and the composition of the ice, Captain Oleg decided it was safe to proceed. It was an incredible feat of navigation and all of the passengers cheered as we cleared the passage and entered the fjord.
Everything we were able to do far exceeded even my own expectations for this voyage. The passenger energy was high. No one really knew what to expect. The expedition was billed as the Greenland Explorer: Valleys and Fjords – and we got all that as well as the local culture and fascinating wildlife on the same trip. What is most apparent is the size of the natural features with imposing glaciers and deep fjords, nature is still champion in this land and the Greenland Explorer itinerary allows travellers to get to grips with this. But beyond the natural richness of the land, there is also a focus on the history of inhabitants and their culture with visits to settlements of varying sizes throughout the voyage. When visiting these towns and villages, it is the churches and the historical sites that are the focal point, providing a rich cultural experience. The capital of Greenland, Nuuk, has been a settlement since 2200BC. What did we achieve in two weeks:
- 7 community visits
- The “Polar Plunge”
- Furthest North reached was 69'49'N
- 10 Lectures
- 47 species of birds and mammals
- Yes – whales!
- 8 Different kinds of local cuisine
- 4 Unsounded bays
- 9 Kayak Excursions
- 2,314 NM Travelled 4,300kms
- 8 Hikes
- 2,678 Eggs Consumed
- 2 Captains!
- Helicopter ride across Ilulissat, UNESCO World Heritage site and the Polar cap
- 64 different species of wildflowers
- Crossing the Arctic Circle
- 2 sets of Northern lights
- Arctic BBQ
All I can say is get to Greenland, the final frontier of Europe for the most amazing adventure and with Quark Expeditions and you can do it on a small luxury vessel.
Next year I hope to go again to try out: In the Footsteps of Franklin: Greenland & Canada's High Arctic –Prices start from £3,865 per person for 12 nights (13 days) with three meals a day, one night accommodation pre-and-post-Reykjavik and Toronto, all inclusive beverages, shore landings and on-board lectures, August 24 to September 5, 2014. www.quarkexpeditions.com or call 0808 120 2333