Day 1: Keflavik/Reykjavik, Iceland
The representative meets you on arrival at Iceland's Keflavik International Airport and accompanies you on the transfer to the domestic airport in nearby Reykjavik. Those who have arrived prior to Day 1 will depart with their Expedition Leader from the Hotel Reykjavik Centrum and transfer to the domestic airport. Here, the group will board a late-morning flight to Kulusuk, Greenland, two hours away by air. We recommend arriving in Iceland 1-2 days prior to our departure to allow for any unexpected delays, and to explore a bit of this up-and-coming adventure destination.
Day 2: Reykjavik/Kulusuk, Greenland/Tasiilaq
From Kulusuk, there is a short, scenic transfer by helicopter to Ammassalik Island, landing in Tasiilaq, the small administrative center of East Greenland. Though it's just a 10-minute flight, it offers a preview of the magnificent scenery to come, with icebergs drifting below us and perhaps even a chance to spot a whale from the air.
Tasiilaq's charming collection of brightly painted wooden houses hugs King Oscar's Bay, surrounded by pointed peaks iced with glaciers. The vibrant town of 2,000 is a hub for outdoor adventure, from hiking and kayaking in summer to dog sledding and glacier skiing in winter. Most of East Greenland is uninhabited, however, except for a handful of small subsistence hunting communities.
Greenland's east coast is often called 'the backside' by those on the west, where most of the population, its capital and institutions are located. East Greenland's people had no contact with the outside world until the turn of the 20th century, and that isolation has fostered a distinct and resilient culture.
The introduction to Greenland begins here where Arctic wilderness and traditional lifestyles meet. In the afternoon you'll convene at the hotel for lunch and a briefing on what all to come during your Arctic adventure. The evening then entails a group welcome dinner with your Expedition Leader/s.
Day 3: Tasiilaq, Whale Watching
Though the interior of Greenland is covered by an ice cap nearly two miles thick, a few habitable areas exist around the bays and islands along the coast. The region you'll visit enjoys a surprisingly mild climate in summer, earning it the nickname 'Arctic Riviera'.
The exploration starts with a half-day excursion in the open waters of the Greenland Sea, proving the first close-up views of icebergs. In addition to large chunks of ice calved from glaciers that fee the region's fjords, you'll also see tabular icebergs – 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 of the icebergs have come from as far as 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, sometimes mingling with the brash ice to create vast, frozen mosaics.
Whales are found seasonally in these waters, when ice conditions permit, so you'll be looking out for fin, minke and humpbacks, as well as seals.
You'll also explore the area around Tasiilaq on foot, walking along the coastline and then visiting the town's history museum to learn about the culture and traditions of the Inuit, at home in this region for centuries. In the afternoon, you'll meet a local resident who will provide a firsthand insight into daily life and year-round subsistence in this remote Arctic wonderland.
Day 4: Tasiilaq/Base Camp Greenland
After breakfast, depart via boat or helicopter to the exclusive wilderness Base Camp, located on the east side of Sermilik Fjord. It is close to the small hamlet of Tinit, which you'll visit at some point during your stay.
The village is one of the most scenic outposts in East Greenland, with a spectacular view of Sermilik Fjord, littered with huge icebergs, and the ice sheet beyond. Behind the town, glaciated peaks rise over a mile high, jutting up like sharp black teeth. Tinit is home to fewer than 100 hardy people crafting a subsistence fishing and hunting existence around challenging weather and constantly shifting ice conditions.
Keep an eye out for whales as you travel, as they are frequently seen in these waters when ice conditions permit. The area is filled with evidence of ancient habitation, including graves and ruins of old Inuit sod house foundations, an evocative place to learn more about Inuit history and lore. Reaching our destination at Base Camp Greenland, you'll find yourself in one of the most remote places on Earth.
After settling in to the deluxe private cabins, you can chill out with some coffee and refreshments. Later, convene for an orientation to the surroundings, followed by dinner and a lecture that will further acquaint you with the remarkable natural history of the region.
Through presentations and cultural visits during your stay, you'll learn about Greenland's cultural heritage, natural history and aspects of modern life. Traditional Inuit identity is at the forefront in East Greenland, more so 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 5-7: Base Camp Greenland, Exploring Sermilik Fjord
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. The Base Camp provides a safe and comfortable outpost from which to explore this vast expanse of wilderness lying just below the Arctic Circle.
Though you 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, you 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 you'll observe the rugged and ever-changing shoreline, navigating among a flotilla of icebergs in an array of wild shapes, some as big as buildings. You'll look for whales and seals, both of which are present depending on ice conditions. Guided sea kayaking outings are an option for exploring the surrounding waters too.
You'll also spend plenty of time ashore, 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 and is more than 10,000 feet at its thickest point and covers 80 percent of the island. You can learn about the crucial role it plays in regulating the earth's climate, and see with your own eyes how rapidly it is being affected by climate change. Amid fields of Arctic cotton grass, look for Arctic fox 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 the camp, where you'll enjoy excellent meals prepared by the camp chef. After dinner, gather for interpretive presentations by the naturalist Expedition Leaders who share their extensive knowledge of Greenland's geology, glaciology and human history.
Although 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 the wilderness cabins have real beds with full bedding, you'll be sure to get it, wrapped in the profound silence of the wild surroundings. Guests on later-season departures may even have a chance to glimpse the northern lights, if the aurora is active in the darkening night sky.
Day 8: Base Camp Greenland/Kulusuk
This morning you'll bid farewell to Base Camp Greenland and make your way back to Kulusuk. Weather and ice conditions dictate which transportation mode you will take, but both offer spectacular views. By helicopter, survey huge U-shaped valleys gouged by glaciers, beneath pointed peaks. By boat, make your way through the imposing fjord system, keeping an eye out for whales and seals and marvelling at the ever-shifting tableau of drifting ice.
Once you arrive in Kulusuk, check in to the hotel and enjoy a last chance to soak up the beauty of this stunning region. Celebrating an extraordinary adventure of discovery, wild beauty and camaraderie, enjoy dinner with all the guests on your last night together in Greenland.
Day 9: 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. Meet the plane for the return flight to Reykjavik's domestic airport. From here, a transfer is included to either Keflavik International Airport for onward flights, or to a local hotel.
NOTE: Please be aware that this itinerary is for guidance only and that a flexible approach is required due to local weather and/ or ice conditions.
Basecamp in Greenland
Prices, Departures and Inclusions
Prices quoted below are per person based on 2 people sharing. Availability changes all the time so please contact us for up-to-date details and information on specific departures. See below for additional charter flight costs.
Internal flights are an additional cost of USD $1995 (2020/2021) per person.
The following departures are Special Photographic tours: 28-Aug-2020 & 27-Aug-2021
Departure dates are confirmed approx. 10 months in advance. This means that they could move by a few days in either direction. To secure your place(s) we strongly recommend that you book ahead now, but that no concrete pre- and post- arrangements involving flights, hotels or other adjacent plans are booked until we confirm the exact dates.
The physical requirements for this trip are very easy and there is little walking required, although travellers must be able to walk up/ down short flights of stairs to get on and off the Polar Rover.
Travellers must be prepared for below-freezing temperatures and slippery surfaces.
Single Supplement And Child Policy
Single travellers may choose to share with others or have a room to themselves this adds $1595 to the cost. Single rooms are limited however so early booking is essential.
- Airport transfers in Iceland
- Accommodation based on full board
- All meals as per itinerary
- Guided by Expedition Leaders & assistants
- All boat transportation and excursions
- Optional sea kayaking & hiking excursions
- Loan of gear, including expedition suits & kayaking equipment
- Most gratuities, all permits, entrance fees & taxes
- International flights to & from start/finish points
- Helicopter flight between Kulusuk and Tasiilaq
- Optional activities
- Some gratuities
- Travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature (laundry, beverages, etc)
- Any additional services before & after your trip
- Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses
- Airport arrival or departure taxes