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Images © Olaf Malver unless otherwise noted
Bill and Debbie Pierce: Ikaasatsivaq Fjord
John Wollwerth: Aerial shot of coast
Learn More 9 Days / From $8,995 (800) 543-8917 for Availability Share

Natural Habitat's Base Camp Greenland

A Luxury Expedition Lodge for Arctic Wilderness Exploration
Day 1: Keflavik, Iceland / Tasiilaq, Greenland
A Natural Habitat Adventures representative will meet you on arrival at Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport. You will transfer to the domestic airport in nearby Reykjavik, where we board a late-morning flight to Kulusuk Island, Greenland, less than two hours away by air. [We recommend arriving in Iceland 1-2 days prior to our departure to allow for any unexpected delays.] From Kulusuk we make a scenic short helicopter flight to Ammassalik Island, landing at its main town of Tasiilaq, the small administrative center of East Greenland.

Virtually uninhabited except for a handful of hamlets, Greenland's east coast is often called "the back side" by those on the west, where most of Greenland's population and institutions are located. East Greenland's people had no contact with the outside world till the turn of the 20th century, and that isolation has created a distinct and resilient culture. Our introduction to Greenland begins here where Arctic wilderness and traditional lifestyles meet. Tasiilaq's charming collection of brightly painted wooden houses and buildings hugs King Oscar’s Bay, surrounded by pointed peaks iced with glaciers. At the local museum we'll listen to Inuit tales in the traditional sod house, then convene at our simple hotel for dinner and a briefing on what to expect during our Arctic adventure.

Day 2: Tasiilaq — Whale Watching & Hiking
Though the interior of Greenland is covered by an ice cap more than a mile deep, a few habitable areas exist around the bays and islands along the coast. The region we visit enjoys a surprisingly mild climate in summer, thus its nickname, the “Arctic Riviera.” Our exploration starts with a half-day whale-watching excursion in the open waters of the Greenland Sea. Traveling in a large motorboat, we cruise in search of fin, minke and humpback whales, orcas, and seals floating on drifting icebergs. The icebergs alone are worth the journey: these are ocean-going slabs of ice, some of which have been drifting for months or even years, driven down the coast by the strong southerly Greenland Current. Glaciologists believe that some have even come from northern Canada, hundreds of miles away. Once they reach the outer edge of Greenland's fjords, they collide with ice that has broken off the Greenland Ice Sheet to form gigantic composites, even mingling with the brash ice to create vast, frozen mosaics.

Day 3: Tasiilaq — Hiking
Our hiking adventure begin today in and around the gloriously scenic bay fronting Tasiilaq. Embark on an easy 2- to 3-hour walk though some of the beautiful landscapes close to town, passing rushing waterfalls and small lakes fringed by a multitude of arctic flowers and back-dropped by ice-clad gneiss and granite mountains.

Through presentations and visits during our trip, we'll highlight elements of Greenland’s cultural heritage, natural history and aspects of modern life. Traditional Inuit identity is at the fore in East Greenland more than most other places in Greenland, and this will be an opportunity for a truly authentic encounter with this vibrant, enduring culture that remains largely in harmony with nature.

Day 4: Tasiilaq / Base Camp Greenland
After breakfast we load our gear and board our boats at the Tasiilaq harbor for the journey to our expedition lodge, located on the east side of Sermilik Fjord. Typically our voyage takes 2-1/2 to 3 hours, depending on tidal currents and how much ice we must navigate around. Our destination is close to the small hamlet of Tinit. The village is one of the most scenic outposts in East Greenland, with a spectacular view of the Greenland Ice Sheet and Sermilik Fjord, littered with huge icebergs. Tinit is home to 127 hardy people crafting a subsistence fishing and hunting existence around challenging weather and constantly shifting ice conditions.

Keeping an eye out for whales as we travel, we make our way around Ammassallik Island directly beneath the 2,000-foot vertical cliffs of Soemandsfjeldet to reach the mouth of mighty Sermilik Fjord. Here, we’ll make a stop at the now-abandoned but picturesque village of Ikateq. Further down the east side of the fjord we stop to see the old Inuit sod house foundations and graveyard at Pupik, an evocative place to learn more about Inuit history and lore. Sometimes currents dictate that we must sail clockwise around Ammassallik Island, adding a half-hour to our trip but taking us through the more protected waters of Ikaasatssivaq aand Ammassalik fjords. On this route we will visit Tasuisarsik, where Gustav Holm overwintered in 1884 after making the first discovery of the East Greenland setttlement of Ammassalik.

By early afternoon we arrive at our destination: Base Camp Greenland, one of the most remote places on earth. After a thrilling morning at sea, we settle into our cabins and sit down for coffee and refreshments. Later we’ll convene on a nearby vista point for an orientation to our environs, followed by dinner and a lecture that will further acquaint us with the remarkable natural history of the region.

Days 5-7: Base Camp Greenland – Exploring the Sermilik Fjord Complex
The landscape along Greenland’s remote and rarely visited east coast is wild and magnificent. Great fjords indent the coastline, penetrating far into sheer-sided mountains capped by the world’s second-largest ice sheet. Sermilik Fjord is the mightiest of them all, a marine playground for a multitude of Arctic wildlife – and for us! Our base camp provides a safe and comfortable outpost from which to explore this vast expanse of wilderness. Though we are profoundly secluded, the wider region is dotted with a few isolated villages where Greenlandic Inuit people practice subsistence lifestyles in this stunning yet uncompromising Arctic environment. In varied encounters, we learn about their culture, still based on fishing and hunting, and discover how they are retaining their traditions while adapting to contemporary life in the 21st century.

On closely guided kayaking excursions we observe the rugged and ever-changing shoreline, navigating among a flotilla of icebergs in an array of wild shapes, some far larger than a house. We’ll look for whales and seals, both of which are abundant in these icy waters. We spend plenty of time ashore, too, hiking deep into the mountains and walking atop glaciers that wind down from the Greenland Ice Sheet, which stretches more than 1,500 miles from north to south, is nearly a mile deep at its thickest, and covers 80 percent of the island. We learn about the crucial role it plays in regulating the earth’s climate, and see with our own eyes how rapidly it is being affected by global warming. Amid fields of waving Arctic cotton grass, we scout for wildlife such as Arctic fox and hare and enjoy prolific birdlife, including eiders, loons, and possibly peregrine falcons.

In the lingering light of an Arctic summer our days are long, allowing for extensive exploration. But ultimately it's time to retreat each evening to our base camp, where we enjoy excellent meals prepared by our camp chef. After dinner we gather in the common space for interpretive presentations by our naturalist Expedition Leaders who share their extensive knowledge of Greenland's geology, glaciology and human history. And, though the sun gleams in the sky most of the night here near the Arctic Circle, a good night's sleep is in order to refuel for the next day's adventures in this grand setting. Given that our wilderness cabins have real beds with full bedding (no sleeping on the ground in tents for our guests!), you'll be sure to get it.

Day 8: Base Camp Greenland / Tasiilaq / Kulusuk / Reykjavik
Though today is devoted to journeying back to the civilized world, it is filled with magnificent Arctic scenery on view from the sea and by air. This morning we bid farewell to Base Camp Greenland and board our motorboat for the cruise back to Tasiilaq. From here we'll return by helicopter to Kulusuk, where we meet our plane for the return flight to Reykjavik. Celebrating an extraordinary adventure of discovery, wild beauty and camaraderie, we enjoy a farewell dinner together in Reykjavik before spending the night at the Hotel Odinsve.

Day 9: Reykjavik / Keflavik / Depart
This morning you will transfer to Keflavik airport for your departing international flights.

Please note: The itinerary provided is meant as a guideline and is subject to change without notice due to weather and sea ice conditions. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to deviate from our regular itinerary for reasons beyond our control. In these instances we will provide the best available alternative.

Our 8-day itinerary will feature one less day at Base Camp.

Physical Rating: Moderate

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