Tundra Travel

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GreenlandTundra Travel

The coastline of Greenland is spectacular. Heavily indented with numerous fjords, the coastline consists of spectacular high mountains, 2000 meters high cliffs and innumerable glaciers.

Greenland

Greenland General information.

 

Greenland or "Kalaallit Nunaat" ("Land of the People") in the Greenlandic language, is the largest island in the world, it stretches from 60º to 83º north latitude. Kap Farvel, its southern tip, is located at almost the same latitude as the Shetland Islands in Scotland. The extreme north of Greenland is the northernmost point of land on our planet. Greenland is dominated by the second largest ice-sheet in the world; more than 80% of its surface area is covered by ice reaching a thickness of over 3000 meters (10,000 feet) in the interior. Although huge in size (2,166,000 km²), it is inhabited by less than 60.000 people. Greenland is geographically a part of the North American continent but has more social and political ties with Europe.

 

The coastline of Greenland is spectacular. Heavily indented with numerous fjords, the coastline consists of spectacular high mountains, 2000 meters (6500 feet) high cliffs and innumerable glaciers. The large glaciers produce the huge, cathedral-like ice-bergs that are abundant in Greenlandic waters. The largest fjord is Scoresby Sund and is more than 300 kilometres (185 miles) long. Our voyages focus on East and North-East Greenland, among the most isolated, sparsely populated and scenically superb parts of the island.

 

The name Greenland was given by Eric the Red, a Norwegian-born Icelandic settler who was banished from Iceland around the year 982 after committing a murder. He found refuge in Greenland. When his exile was over, he returned to Iceland with stories of a green and fertile land to the north-west to lure potential settlers, hence the name Greenland. Although initially flourishing, the Icelandic settlements disappeared from Greenland around 1400, probably due to a climatic change, the Little Ice-Age. But the Norwegian settlers were certainly not the first humans to have lived on Greenland. For thousands of years Palaeo-Eskimos (the Dorset culture) had been living on the coasts of Greenland: they were finally replaced by Inuit (or Kalaallit as they call themselves in Greenland) around 1300 A.D. The Inuit now make up the majority of the Greenlandic population. The Inuit, the word means "men" in the Inuit language, are nowadays seen as the indigenous people of the North American Arctic. Inuit are traditionally subsistence hunters, living primarily from whales, walruses, Caribou, Musk Oxen, Arctic Foxes, Polar Bears and seals.

 

 

Greenland Climate.

 

Our expeditions in North-East Greenland are planned in August and September. The reason is that access to this wild coast is dependent on the ice conditions. For much of the year the region is locked in by pack-ice, which only by late summer has broken up sufficiently to allow vessels such as ours to reach land.

 

Please note; although we expect to be able to reach Greenland, nature does not give us a guarantee. Pack-ice is unpredictable and may prevent our ships to complete the planned itinerary.

 

The Greenlandic weather varies enormously depending on where you are on this vast island. Influenced by its high latitude, the gigantic ice-cap and the surrounding oceans and seas, Greenland has an Arctic to High Arctic climate. Still, East Greenland has on average 300 days of sunshine in the year. In August we can expect surprisingly warm daytime temperatures. In Scoresby Sund the average daytime temperatures are between 5 and 9ºC (41 and 48ºF) with the highest observed temperature being 21ºC (70ºF). On a sunny, windless day even 9ºC feels quite warm. By September, autumn rapidly begins to take a hold. Temperatures drop below zero, the sea in sheltered fjords begins to freeze, the winds strengthen and snow can be expected. Still, the low sun gives spectacular sunsets and the snow adds to the Arctic feeling.

 

 

Greenland Flora & Fauna.

 

Greenland and its surrounding waters are home to an impressive array of bird life. There are about 50 bird species on the island such as Gyrfalcon, Snowy Owl, Barnacle and Pink-footed Goose. Greenland is also home to quite some terrestrial mammal species: Arctic Wolf, Arctic Fox, Ermine, Collared Lemming, Muskox and the Arctic Hare. In the coastal waters of Greenland there are Fin, Minke and Humpback Whales, Narwhals and Belugas (White Whales). Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Pilot Whales are also seen occasionally.

 

Please note; some of the animals mentioned are not always seen during our Greenland voyages as several of these species are rare. One of the reasons can be the time of year: in August and September many bird species have migrated. Another important reason is unfortunately the large-scale game hunting by Greenlanders.

 

Animals such as the Arctic Wolf, the Polar Bear, the Walrus, and the Narwhal are in some areas massively overhunted. For instance the Polar Bear is therefore rarely seen on the west coast, more regularly it is seen on the northern and north-eastern coasts.

 

 

Frequently visited places in North-East Greenland are (from north to south):

 

In Foster Bugt, in East Greenland a beautiful place to land is Myggebugten. Beyond the old hunters´ hut (in the first half of last century Norwegian trappers hunted here for Polar Bears and Arctic Foxes) there is extensive tundra populated by Musk Oxen. The small lakes are home to geese.

 

Kaiser Franz Joseph Fjord is a magnificent fjord with towering mountains on both sides, its inner reaches choked with huge ice-bergs.

 

Scoresby Sund, or Kangertittivaq in Greenlandic. The longest fjord in the world, more than 350 kilometres (217 miles) long.

 

Illoqqortoormiut is the biggest settlement in the Scoresby Sund with about 500 inhabitants. At the post office you can buy stamps for your postcards, or just wander around to see the sledge dogs and the drying skins of Seal, Musk Ox and Polar Bear.

 

 

Nansen Fjord is another magnificent landscape with an enormous calving glacier front, which is easily approached. At the inner side of the fjord along the northern shore there are ample landing and zodiac cruising opportunities. In Nansen Fjord we find Gunnbjørns Fjeld, with a height of 3,700 meters (12,139 feet) both the highest peak in Greenland and the highest mountain north of the Arctic Circle.

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