Home » Greg Mortimer: Arctic Complete – Spitsbergen, Greenland & Iceland
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This combination of our popular Arctic itineraries (Spitsbergen Odyssey and Jewels of the Arctic) will allow you to experience the best of the European Arctic over 23-days. Starting on Spitsbergen, you’ll explore its coastline of calving glaciers, towering bird cliffs and pack ice and spot walruses, reindeer and even polar bears! After crossing the Greenland Sea, our ship will follow East Greenland’s coastline filled with the largest fjord system in the world, calving icebergs, friendly native communities and untouched tundra-covered valleys, before reaching its finishing point, Iceland.
Duration: 23 Days
After making your own way to Reykjavik pier, embark the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon from 4.00 pm. You’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings.
In the Denmark Strait, we cruise towards Greenland. We will be on the lookout for whale blows and the many seabirds that trail our ship in the constant winds. In our lecture theatre, enjoy informative and entertaining presentations from our experts on topics such as seabirds, wildlife, and ice, or catch up on some rest after busy days of travel.
In the next couple of days our itinerary may take us to Scoresbysund and Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord. Scoresbysund, is the world’s largest fjord and a favourite hunting ground of the local Inuit. Massive glaciers dump into this fjord, the birthplace of the famous big Greenland icebergs. We hope to visit the remote Inuit community of Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresby Town) and to hike across the tundra in search of ancient graveyards and summer village occupied 3,000 years ago by Paleo-Eskimos. This area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking in its maze of calm, interconnecting waterways. If we are lucky we may see musk oxen, Arctic hare and seals, and maybe if we are extremely lucky even a polar bear or narwhal. Landings may include:
We head out to sea bound for Spitsbergen. As we cruise northeast across the Greenland Sea – the main outlet of the Arctic Ocean – we may encounter pack ice, and if we are lucky we will see polar bears hunting on the ice. The strong icy sea currents have isolated East Greenland from the rest of the world for millennia. These currents carry nutrients from the Polar Basin, attracting large numbers of fish, seals and whales.
Climatic conditions and the concentration of ice in the vicinity often create thick morning fog that vanishes with the onset of the midday sun. Our experts will inform and entertain us with fascinating talks on plants, animals and early explorers like Nansen, Andree and Scoresby.
Along Spitsbergen’s west coast, we stop at intriguing places like Kongsfjorden or Magdalenefjorden. Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay) is incredibly scenic, the fjord is headed by two giant glaciers. There’s ample time ashore for hiking on the lush tundra amongst the summer flowers and observing the remarkable bird cliffs near the 14th July Glacier, where even a few puffins nest between the cracks in the cliffs.
We keep watch for polar bears and Arctic fox and feel a sense of history at the 350-year-old remains of a Dutch whaling settlement, Smeerenberg on Amsterdamøya. The name Smeerenberg literally means blubber town in Dutch. It is a place of extraordinary legends, of thousands of men living there during the 1630s, a town complete with shops, gambling dens and the like. However, in reality, only 400 men and fifteen ships visited Smeerenberg during its peak in the 1630s for whaling purposes.
As we work our way along the north coast we explore rarely-visited places such as Woodfjorden and Leifdefjorden in search of the mighty polar bear. From Zodiacs we enjoy magnificent views of sweeping glaciers winding their way into the sea. We may walk on smooth raised beach terraces to a superb viewpoint or hike in the mountains on the tundra where pretty coloured wildflowers and lichen grow and where reindeer graze. We may visit trapper huts of yesteryear where Russians and Pomors would hunt and survive the cold harsh winters, all while remaining alert for wandering polar bears and their cubs.
We might come face-to-face with the formidable pack ice of the Arctic Ocean, keeping our eyes peeled for walrus feeding on clams or hauled out on the beach in wallows. We will listen to the cacophony of sea birds and see them feeding. If conditions allow we may push north into the pack ice in hopes of finding polar bears ranging over the frozen landscape on the hunt for seals.
Along the northeast coast of Spitsbergen we enter a different world – a polar desert. If ice conditions allow we will pass south through the narrow Hinlopen Strait. The strait is flanked by creamy coloured slabs of rock that are rich infossils, as we will discover for ourselves when we go ashore. We may visit Alkefjellet in the Strait, where a series ofone-hundred-metre-high dolerite towers are home to nearly a million nesting Brünnich’s guillemots – the penguinsof the north – that occupy every available nook and cranny. Elsewhere we seek out eider ducks and geese and hopeto spot Arctic fox and the beautiful ivory gulls. As the Greg Mortimer passes between Spitsbergen and the smallerislands of Barentsøya and Edgeøya, we cross a major polar bear migration route and the beautiful fertile plains of Sundeneset. The spongy ground is richly covered with bright green mosses, a variety of delicate and colourful flowers, particularly the yellow marsh (bog) saxifrage, various mushrooms, fungi, clear bubbling streams and small tarns. Tiny (micro) flowers such as Mouse Ears grow in Spitsbergen creating faerie like mossy rock gardens. We explore this beautiful terrain on foot, marvelling at the contrast between the colourful soft ground and the barren, rocky terrain from further north. Reindeer antlers lie scattered along the ground. We round South Cape, Spitsbergen's most southerly point, before continuing northwards along the west coast of Spitsbergen.
We enter the spectacular Hornsund Fjord where we may take an early morning Zodiac cruise to admire the beautiful ice walls of the Samarin Glacier or take a stroll beneath the towering seabird cliffs at Sofiebogen. In Bellsund Fjord we are always on the lookout for beluga , or white whales. Bellsund Fjord is a fjord that splits into two branches. It was named Bellsund after a nearby bell-shaped mountain by William Barentsz in 1596. We may visit the remnants of a Norwegian beluga whaling station from the 1930s. Across the fjord at Vårsolbukta is a lush and stunning landscape,
where reindeer roam, Arctic flowers bloom in abundance and Arctic fox may be seen patrolling the little auk colony, where several thousand birds nest amongst the boulders, coming and going in huge flocks.
During the early morning we cruise back into Longyearbyen. Farewell your expedition team and fellow expeditioners as we all continue our onward journeys. A transfer is included into town, where there is free time before an onward transfer to the airport in the afternoon.
|09 Aug 2020 - 31 Aug 2020|
Located on deck 3 , Room size: 23.2m², Twin or double bed, Private en-suite bathroom , Porthole window, Desk area, Closet space, Sofa bed (can sleep 3rd passenger in select cabins) , Room-controlled thermostat, Safe for storing valuables, 42" flat-screen TV
Located on deck 4, 6 and 7, Room size: 16.5-20.7m², Private balcony, Twin or double bed, Private en-suite bathroom, Floor to ceiling window,Desk area Closet space, Room-controlled thermostat, Safe for storing valuables, 42" flat-screen TV
25.4sqm - 26.1sqm, located on deck 4, private balcony (9.1sqm-10.8sqm), double bed, private ensuite bathroom, full-size window, desk area, closet space, room-controlled thermostat, safe and 42-inch flat-screen TV.
30.1sqm, located on deck 7, private balcony (14.3sqm), double bed, private ensuite bathroom, full-size window, desk area, closet space, room-controlled thermostat, safe, 42-inch flat-screen TV and separate lounge area.
35.9sqm, located on deck 4, private balcony (10.4sqm), double bed, private ensuite bathroom, full-size window, desk area, closet space, room-controlled thermostat, safe, 42-inch flat-screen TV and separate lounge area.
21.4sqm, 3 single beds, private ensuite and porthole window. Includes desk area, closet, room controlled thermostat and 42 inch flat screen TV.