Imagine embarking on an Arctic odyssey where you have the opportunity to meet Greenland's Inuit people, witness traditional kayaking, and venture into that rarified wilderness realm of beluga whales, polar bears, walrus, seals, and muskox. Our 16-day Arctic Quest voyage promises just that – it's designed to delight historians, adventurers, and wildlife lovers alike. As our most diversified expedition, it also features a unique option for kayaking aficionados to get even more up close and personal with some of the Arctic's more elusive wildlife.
Greenland: Birthplace of the Kayak
Debarking from the Sea Explorer, your home base throughout the expedition, your first land-based adventure will officially start with two days ashore in West Greenland's southernmost town, Sisimiut. Ideally situated on the coast of Davis Strait, with a harbor that remains ice-free in winter, this small fishing locale dates back some 4,500 years to its first Inuit inhabitants. The descendants of the aboriginal Saqqaq, Dorset and Thule account for most of Sisimiut's population.
It is in Sisimiut – home of Greenland's kayaking champion, Maligiaq Padilla – where you'll have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing a traditional kayaking demonstration. Greenland is where the kayak (or “qajaq”) was invented by the Inuit people. It aided them in fishing and hunting the whales and seals they relied upon for winter's high-calorie food, as well as summer's tents of sealskin hide, waterproof clothing, and boots.
The traditional qajaq was constructed of a driftwood frame covered with sealskin. Known as skin-on-frame, these highly resilient, lightweight kayaks were custom fitted to the individual hunter. This effectively made the qajaq a seaworthy extension of his body, allowing him to glide quickly and silently through the water.
Given the unpredictable Arctic weather and its always-frigid waters, an integral part of a young hunter's training was to perfect the “Greenlander roll.” This maneuver, in which the kayaker employs his oars to immediately right his capsized vessel, was key to his survival. As part of the traditional kayaking demonstration, you'll witness this feat firsthand! Nowadays, of course, kayaks are built of synthetic materials – usually plastic, fiberglass, or Kevlar. However, the same principles of kayak dynamics and safety apply.
A Wildlife Lover's Dream: The Arctic Quest Kayaking Adventure Option
Offered on most of our Arctic voyages, our kayaking adventure option allows you an intimate view of the Arctic and close encounters with its wildlife denizens. Our kayaking excursions are led by a highly skilled guide, with all of the necessary equipment and instruction provided. While weather conditions are the primary consideration for kayaking, we guarantee at least one outing on your trip, but try to take you out as many times as weather permits.
Keep in mind that the Arctic Quest expedition ends in Churchill, the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” on the west shore of Hudson Bay. With the right conditions, you may realize the wildlife lover's dream of viewing polar bears in a way that only kayaking offers!