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9 Nights aboard Silver Cloud
5 Jul 2023
5 Jul 2023
Kangerlussuaq is a settlement in western Greenland in the Qeqqata municipality located at the head of the fjord of the same name (Danish: Søndre Strømfjord). It is Greenland’s main air transport hub and the site of Greenland’s largest commercial airport. The airport dates from American settlement during and after World War II, when the site was known as Bluie West-8 and Sondrestrom Air Base. The Kangerlussuaq area is also home to Greenland’s most diverse terrestrial fauna, including muskoxen, caribou, and gyrfalcons. View less The settlement’s economy and population of 512 is almost entirely reliant on the airport and tourist industry.
Sisimiut (‘The People of the Fox Holes’) is Greenland’s second city, the largest Arctic City in North America, and a hub between the warmer South and the frozen North of the country. With a young, dynamic population, including students from all over the country, Sisimiut is one of the fastest growing cities in Greenland. View less Inhabited for more than four and a half thousand years, the Danish Colonial Era saw the rapid development of the city into a trade centre, and the old buildings and artefacts can be seen at Sisimiut Museum, a collection of beautifully restored buildings displaying everything from ancient turf houses to modern Inuit art. The local artisans are considered some of the best in Greenland, and often sell their wares direct from their communal workshop in the harbour, where they barter with hunters for raw materials. Today, modern industry focussed on processing sea food and shipping; KNI, the state-run chain of general stores operating in even the most remote settlements is based in Sisimiut. Most residents still live in the colourful wooden houses Greenland is so well known for. Sisimiut’s vast back country offers excellent opportunities for hiking and fishing, and the locals often use sled dogs or snowmobiles to get around their vast mountainous playground during the long winters. In the summer, one can walk as far as Kangerlussuaq International Airport, a trail also used for the gruelling Polar Circle Marathon, one of the toughest endurance events in the world.
Known as the birthplace of icebergs, the Ilulissat Icefjord produces nearly 20 million tons of ice each day. In fact, the word Ilulissat means “icebergs” in the Kalaallisut language. The town of Ilulissat is known for its long periods of calm and settled weather, but the climate tends to be cold due to its proximity to the fjord. Approximately 4,500 people live in Ilulissat, the third-largest town in Greenland after Nuuk and Sisimiut. View less Some people here estimate that there are nearly as many sled dogs as human beings living in the town that also boasts a local history museum located in the former home of Greenlandic folk hero and famed polar explorer Knud Rasmussen.
Evighedsfjord (Eternity Fjord) is a large fjord northeast of Kangaamiut in southwest Greenland. The fjord has a length of 75 kilometers and several branches with numerous glaciers coming down from the Maniitsoq Ice Cap to the north can be seen. The Evighedsfjord has several bends and whenever the ship reaches the supposed end the fjord continues in another direction and seems to go on forever. Qingua Kujatdleq Glacier is at its southeastern end. At the northwestern end a U-shaped valley has seven glaciers coming down from the mountains but not reaching the water. The glaciers had their maximum extent around the year 1870 and have gone through several cycles of advance and retreat. The mountains on either side of the fjord can reach in excess of 2,000 meters and the fjord has a depth of up to 700 meters. Evighedsfjord’s snowline is at 1,100 meters and the Evighedsfjord region is famous as one of Greenland’s best heli-skiing areas.
In the bustling capital city of Greenland, you could be forgiven for forgetting you are in such a vast and isolated country. Nuuk is Greenland’s economic and social hub, home to more than a third of Greenland’s population, and although it feels like a world capital, scratch the surface, and a uniquely Greenlandic character can be found underneath. Nuuk Cathedral overlooks the gorgeous old Colonial Harbour district and the Greenland National Museum, resting place of the legendary Qilakitsoq mummies, the true highlight of the museum’s archaeological collection. View less Above the Colonial Harbour sits downtown Nuuk, with lines of Scandistyle apartments, a bustling shopping district, the Greenlandic Parliament, Nuuk City Hall (which welcomes visitors to see its artwork) and even outdoor cafes selling locally produced food and beer. These nods to modernity compete for space with local artisan boutiques, the meat market selling the catch from Nuuk’s vast fjord-lands, and the stunning Katuaq Cultural Centre, where blockbuster movies, as well as local and foreign performers entertain the people of Nuuk. Although Nuuk has long been a melting pot of Danish and Greenlandic ideas, this is a city where Greenland displays its sophistication, with the Country’s only traffic lights, roundabouts and University. Most of all, expect to find a multitude of friendly people who are proud of who they are, and equally proud of the city they call home.
The transit through the Sound is one of this voyage’s highlights. Connecting the Labrador Sea with the Irminger Seat, Prince Christian Sound or “Prins Christian Sund” in Danish is named after Prince (later King) Christian VII (1749-1808). 100 km (60 miles ), long and at times just 500 m (1500 ft) wide, this majestic and spectacular fiord throws you back into a Viking era – flanked by soaring snow-topped mountains, rock-strewn cliffs and rolling hills, it is as if time has stood still and one easily forgets that this is the 21st century. As you marvel at the sheer size of the mountains that surround you, with the Arctic waters lapping deceptively at the hull, revel in the silence enveloping you. Icebergs float serenely by, carrying with them the ages of time. Be sure to wear warm clothing as this is one spectacle that you do not want to miss.
If you’re looking for remote and remarkable then you have found it. Cruise through Prince Christian Sound to the western end and you’ll find Aapilattoq, a (very) small Greenlandic village of just 100 inhabitants. The name of the village means “sea anemone” in the local Greenlandic language, and the fact that the village has retained its Inuit name is a good indication of what you can expect; traditional village life much as it has been for the past 100 years. Hunting and fishing are the main occupations here, and it is not unusual when taking a stroll through Aappilattoq, past the small school (where 22 pupils from ages 3-16 are enrolled) and church, to come across a polar bear skin drying in the wind behind a local dwelling. The village is hidden behind a prominent red rock and towering mountains, which make the village virtually inaccessible by land. Naturally, the Aapilattoq and its surrounding area are phenomenally rich in Arctic wildlife: Arctic fox and Arctic hare live in the countryside around the village while marine mammals include ringed seal, harbour seal, hooded seal, bearded seal, harp seal, humpback whale (typically in summer), minke whale, fin whale, narwhal, and beluga.
There is a wonderful legend that the Vikings named Greenland Green and Iceland Ice in order to confuse potential attackers. Because it is quite the opposite; if Iceland is full of emerald forest, then expect ice in Greenland. Lots and lots of ice. Thus one shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that the name Nanortalik means “place of polar bears”. Although, as Nanortalik is Greenland’s most southerly town, don’t be too disappointed if you don’t see any. In truth, Greenland’s polar bears typically live much further north. View less What you will see however is Mother Nature at her finest. Vertical cliff walls, sheets of floating sea ice and a plethora of Arctic wildlife that amount to an adventurer’s wonderland. As Nanortalik itself is located on a small island in the southern tip of Greenland, nature is never far away, wherever you find yourself. The optimistically named city centre is surrounded by the pristine waters of Tasermiut Fjord and dotted with the colourful houses you would expect this far north. Traditionally, artisans’ houses were painted different colours to showcase what they did, i.e. commercial houses were red; hospitals were yellow; police stations were black; the telephone company was green and fish factories were blue. Today it is more a case of anything goes! Nanortalik locals are warm and welcoming, and are known to extent the art of Kaffe-Mik to its visitors. This old tradition is where a family invites guests into their home to drink coffee and taste their famous Greenlandic cake.
With average yearly temperatures of 5˚C and a population of just 150, to say that Narsarsuaq is off the beaten track is no understatement. Yet, what this little Greenlandic village might lack in size is more than made up for in big, bold scenery, generous wildlife and a surprisingly thriving tourism scene. Greenland’s leitmotivs of thrilling landscape and Viking history are majestically illustrated in Narsarsuaq. Jagged mountains plunge into glacier-dotted fjords, wildflower-sprinkled meadows stretch as far as the eye can see, while golden light bathes it all. View less Take silent filled hikes or kayak excursions to really explore what the little village’s surroundings have to offer, occasionally scanning the skies for the elusive white-tailed eagle. The tangible quietness of Narsarsuaq is in great contrast to its bold and riotous Viking history. Norse Vikings, including the infamous Erik the Red, settled in the vicinity over a thousand years ago (985 AD). Their long and bloody history is well documented and ruins can be found in nearby Qassiarsuk, Igaliku, and Hvalsey. Narsarsuaq’s placement in the Atlantic Ocean between Canada and mainland Europe made the little settlement a hub for U.S. activity during WWII. In 1941, the U.S. built an air force base (name Blue West One or Bluie) which served the Allies as a stepping stone to the battlegrounds. A 600-bed hospital (which was later increased to 1,000 beds) was also built to accommodate casualties from the D-Day landings and later, the Korean War.
9 Nights aboard Silver Cloud
Departs 05 Jul 2023