Wednesday 29 November 2023

Arctic Greenland - Kangerlussuaq Fjord

Our last day on the ship, we sailed towards Kangerlussuaq where we will be catching our flight back to Toronto.  Kangerlussuaq is located at the end of the Fjord so we had the opportunity to travel through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on this trip.  On both sides of the ship, we saw snow-capped mountains, many with glaciers coming down the valleys.  This, coupled with the golden hour light and the sunset behind us, took our breaths away.

Looks like icing sugar on chocolate cake

Glacier visible beyond 

Mountain ranges as far as the eyes can see

From the first day that we got on this ship, the expedition leader had promised us he will wake us up if the northern lights showed up in the middle of the night.  Nothing happened for fifteen nights.  This was to be our last night on board and we all went to bed early because we had to disembark at 4 am to get to the airport to catch our flight.  Of course, shortly after 10 pm, the call came over the PA.  Only half awake, we took our time getting up to the upper deck.  

I was worried when I saw people coming down already - they had already seen it and were going back to bed!  I thought we had missed it when we saw nothing as we walked out onto the deck.  But a few minutes later, the aurora borealis emerged again from the darkness.  It was unbelievably magical - shimmering, shrinking then growing, glowing, from one streak till it enveloped the sky in front of us.  One truly has to see it to believe it!  For a while I was too dumbfounded to take photos.  

The phone was the quickest way of capturing the aurora borealis and half of these shots were taken with my phone.  We were on a ship, there is no point in using a tripod because of vibration from the engine.  But the northern lights that night was strong enough that we could capture it handheld for 1 second holding our cameras steady.  I wish I had the presence of mind to capture it on video - it would have shown the amazing movement of the lights.  

The first streaks of light.  Jupiter was visible on the horizon.

The red starting to come through

Intensifying - then fading

Then it moved from the west side to the south

It was a remarkable end to a remarkable trip - truly a journey of a lifetime!  
Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Arctic Greenland - Sisimiut

 Our last port of call before disembarkation is Sisimiut (pop. 5,520 in 2022), a coastal town located on the Arctic circle, on the west-central coast of Greenland.  The Danish settled here in 1764 and it has developed into a modern fishing port with shipyards and processing plants for fish and shrimp.  We had a walking tour of the town and finished with a delicious seafood tasting at the local hotel.  

It is a busy port with lots of ships and harbour activities.  This is the only place where we get to actually walk off the ship instead of landing on a zodiac.  This is where the ship load up on supplies for the next leg of its journey after it dropped us off in Kangerlussach.  For the last few days, supplies must have been really low as our green salads were made with shredded cabbage.  That night for dinner, we finally got to taste real green salads again!

The old church from 1775 and below, the new church from 1926

The port framed by the whale bone arch

Drawings on the rock face

It's all about boats!

A lake at the top of the tour

More colourful houses - you can tell this is the biggest town on our route


Polar bear skin hung out to dry

Shrimp and snow crab legs among other things at the hotel tasting which wrapped up our tour

Coming up - the Last post: the awesome Kangerlussack Fjord and Northern Lights!!

Saturday 18 November 2023

Arctic Greenland - Ilulissat

Finally, Ilulissat - a UNESCO World Heritage site and known as the iceberg factory of the world!  The Sermeq Kujalleq glacier calves 35cubic km of ice per year.  Enormous icebergs from this glacier follow the current north along the Greenland coast, across Baffin Bay then south along the Canadian east coast.  This is the source of the icebergs we see in Newfoundland.  

We arrived in Ilulissat at sunrise.  It was awesome watching the mile upon mile of gigantic icebergs as far as the eyes can see against the pink morning sky as we move towards the glacier.  There is no way I could capture the magic with a few photos. We then went on a zodiac cruise around the icebergs in the bay before we went ashore.  Going up close to the icy giants gave us a real sense of scale.

It was a wet zodiac ride and a cold morning to boot.  To top it off, the shuttle that was supposed to take us to the Ice Centre did not show up.  We were able to hail down a cab that took us to the trail to the icefields.  It turned out to be a beautiful hike along the boardwalk with colourful tundra on both sides culminating in the specatacular glacier and icefield feeding it.

Sunrise glow backdrop for iceberg alley

Icebergs as far as the eyes can see

Cruising in between the icebergs provides a different closeup perspective

The harbour at Ilulissat

Colourful houses

The boardwalk trail to the icefields and glacier

Beautiful tundra flowers on both sides of the boardwalk

The icefield feeding the glacier

The awesome glacier

The Ice Centre Museum - you can actually go on the roof for a different perspective

The inside of the Museum is stunning

The shuttle was running by the time we finished our tour of the centre so it was a smooth trip back to the ship.  We were getting near the end of our trip although each day still brought lots of new vistas and every night, the anticipation of a wakeup call to see the Northern Lights - afterall we are in Greenland, one of the best places in the world to see them!