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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 Deluxe Expedition Camp for Arctic Wilderness Exploration
Day 1: Keflavik, Iceland / Tasiilaq, Greenland
You will be met on arrival at Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport and accompanied on the transfer to the domestic airport in nearby Reykjavik. Those who have arrived prior to Day 1 will be picked up at the Hotel Odinsve and transferred to the domestic airport. Here, you'll meet your traveling companions and 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 short scenic transfer by helicopter to Ammassalik Island, landing at its main town of Tasiilaq, the small administrative center of East Greenland. This vibrant town of 2,000 is a hub for outdoor adventure, from hiking and kayaking in summer to dog sledding and heli-skiing in winter.

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 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, earning it the nickname “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, and seals. 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.

We'll also explore the area around Tasiilaq on foot, hiking above the scenic bay that fronts the town. Bring your camera: the ice-clad gneiss and granite peaks provide a backdrop for a vibrant landscape of waterfalls and small lakes fringed by a multitude of arctic wildflowers.

Day 3: Tasiilaq / Base Camp Greenland
After breakfast we load up our gear for the journey to our expedition camp, located on the east side of Sermilik Fjord. Our destination is close to the small hamlet of Tinit, which we'll visit at some point during our stay. 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 just over 120 hardy people crafting a subsistence fishing and hunting existence around challenging weather and constantly shifting ice conditions. Nearby, the 2,000-foot vertical cliffs of Soemandsfjeldet rise near the mouth of mighty Sermilik Fjord.

We'll keep an eye out for whales as we travel, as they are frequently seen in these waters. The area is filled with evidence of ancient habitation, including graves and ruins of old Inuit sod house foundations, and we find it an evocative place to learn more about Inuit history and lore. Reaching our destination at Base Camp Greenland, we find ourselves in one of the most remote places on Earth. After settling in to our cabins, we sit down for coffee and refreshments. Later we’ll convene 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. Through presentations and cultural visits during our stay, we learn about Greenland’s cultural heritage, natural history and aspects of modern life. Traditional Inuit identity is at the forefront in East Greenland more than most other places in Greenland, and this will be an opportunity for an authentic encounter with this vibrant, enduring culture that remains largely in harmony with nature.

Days 4–6: Base Camp Greenland – Exploring Sermilik Fjord 
The landscape along Greenland’s isolated 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 Zodiac 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 present in these waters, depending on ice conditions. Guided sea kayaking outings are also an option for exploring the waters of the bay. We spend plenty of time ashore, too, with walks and hikes for varying ability levels. Explore the mountainsides and wander near glaciers that wind down from the Greenland Ice Sheet. This huge ice mass – second in size only to Antarctica – 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 birdlife, including eiders, loons, and possibly peregrine falcons.

The long hours of summer daylight allow for extensive exploration. But ultimately it's time to retreat each evening to our base camp, where we enjoy excellent meals prepared by the camp chef. After dinner we gather 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 much of the night here near the Arctic Circle, a good night's sleep is in order to refuel for the next day's adventures. 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, wrapped in the profound silence of our wild surroundings.

Day 7: Base Camp Greenland / Tasiilaq
This morning we bid farewell to Base Camp Greenland make our way back to Tasiilaq, keeping an eye out for whales and marveling at the ever-shifting tableau of drifting icebergs. Once back in town, we check in to our hotel and enjoy a last day to soak up the beauty of this stunning region. Celebrating an extraordinary adventure of discovery, wild beauty and camaraderie, we enjoy a farewell dinner on our last night together in Greenland.

Day 8: Tasiilaq / Kulusuk / Reykjavik
Though today is devoted to journeying back to the urban world, it is filled with magnificent Arctic scenery on view from the air. From Tasiilaq we return by helicopter to Kulusuk, where we meet our plane for the return flight to Reykjavik's domestic airport. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel in the city center and enjoy a dinner in downtown Reykjavik.

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 some 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.

Physical Rating: Moderate

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