Arctic Complete – Svalbard, Greenland & Iceland
- 23 Days
- Reykjavik, Iceland - Longyearbyen, Norway
- Voyage code:
- Greg Mortimer
from AUD $25,800.00/pp
See 'Cabins & Prices' tab for discounted rates
Embark on a voyage to Svalbard, scanning for whales, the majestic polar bear and enigmatic walrus on pack ice. East Greenland dazzles with its iridescent icebergs and deep exploration in Scoresbysund – the world’s largest fjord system. Witness spectacularly colourful patterns in the sandstone rocks, visit remarkable Palaeolithic sites and have the chance to encounter musk oxen and arctic hare.
- Sail past Spitsbergen’s narrow sheltered waterways and fjords
- Venture close to 80° north looking for polar bears on the pack ice
- Listen to the orchestra of Greenland’s famous ice singing as it pops, hisses, cracks and calves
- Delight in a variety of diverse terrain: ice caps, polar desert, alpine ranges, and hike through colourful tundra
In true expedition style we encourage exploration and adventure, offering flexibility in challenging environments in a way that puts you among the action to see and do as much as possible. This itinerary is only a guide and subject to change due to ice and weather conditions.
Day 1 Reykjavik, embark Greg Mortimer
Please make your way to Fosshotel Reykjavik, located in Borgatun district, by 10.00 am, to allow us to gather your luggage and transport it to the vessel prior to embarkation. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, make your own way to Reykjavik pier by 4.00 pm for embarkation. A group transfer to the pier will also be available from Fosshotel Reykjavik, commencing at 3.30, if you require the service. Please inform your travel agent or Aurora Expeditions if you wish to use the group transfer. Once aboard, you’ll have time to settle into your cabin before our important briefings.
Day 2 Denmark Strait
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.
Days 3-9 East Greenland
As we approach East Greenland, we may encounter more pack ice where we may see seals and a variety of seabirds, including northern fulmar and migratory Brunnichs guillemots. This stretch of coastline is ripe for exploration, with its many secrets locked in place by drift ice for up to eight months each year.
Our experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day. This allows us to make best use of the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities. We will generally make up to two landings or Zodiac excursions per day; cruising along spectacular ice cliffs, following whales that are feeding near the surface.
Over the coming days, be prepared to experience ice, lots of it. East Greenland contains some of the Arctic's most impressive scenery. Deep fjords and narrow channels, flanked by sharp ice-clad peaks up to 2,000 m / 6,562 ft high. Glaciers create gigantic icebergs that drift throughout the fjord system creating breath-taking scenes. The landscape is filled with multi-coloured tundra home to musk oxen and Arctic hare. Throughout the area are ancient Thule archaeological sites, historical trappers' huts, and modern Inuit hunters' cabins. A highlight is a visit to the Inuit village of Ittoqqortoormiit, the most isolated and northernmost permanent settlement in the region, with approximately 450 inhabitants. The community boasts an excellent museum, gift shop, an abundance of Greenlandic sled dogs, and the opportunity to meet Inuit people.
Explore Scoresbysund, the largest fjord system in the world – a spectacular place that simply needs to be seen to be believed. North of Scoresbysund are, Kong Oscar and Kaizer Franz Josef fjords, two of the most significant fjord systems in all of Greenland, each one encompassing several smaller fjords and sounds. Thanks to the fertile volcanic soil mountains that protects areas from the strong winds, the area is rich in wildlife. You may spot everything from muskox and arctic foxes to mountain hares and even reindeer near the fjord. Look skyward and you could catch a glimpse of birds including glaucous gull, black-legged kittiwake, northern fulmar, common raven and common eider.
We will attempt to enter Kaiser Franz Josef Fjord, a remote and rarely visited fjord system with countless opportunities for exploration within the Northeast Greenland National Park. Cruising through Kong Oskar Fjord we will marvel at the geological beauty of the mountains. We will then head south along the coast of Liverpool Land, with our passage dependent on ice conditions. We aim to reach Scoresbysund, the world’s biggest 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 plan to visit the remote Inuit community of Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresby Town) and to hike across the tundra in search of ancient graveyards and summer villages occupied 3,000 years ago by Eskimos. This area provides excellent opportunities for sea kayaking in its maze of calm, interconnecting waterways. We may see musk oxen, arctic hare and seals, and maybe if we are extremely lucky even a polar bear or narwhal, although due to the local hunting traditions, these sightings are often very rare.
Places we may land along the east coast include:
Cape Humboldt is a beautiful bay on Ymer Island. There is a good chance to take a tundra walk and see musk oxen graze. We will also keep a lookout for Arctic fox and ptarmigan. A lone trapper's hut looks over the bay and magnificent icebergs.
Sefstrom Glacier adorns the narrow-peaked waterway in Alpefjord. Enjoy Zodiac cruising and kayaking in this pretty area, where colourful Arctic flora adorns the tundra ground.
Ittoqqortoormiit is Scoresbysund’s colourful Inuit community of approximately 500 people. Here you can explore the village, the fascinating museum or sit in the beautiful Lutheran Church. The locals are friendly and from underneath their Arctic fox-fur jackets, the shy young children are keen to say hello and practice their English.
Sydkap in Scoresbysund offers good walking and delightful views across the sound. Kayakers will have good opportunities to explore the lonely beaches. We may explore the ancient gravesites on the island, or the lakes with green tunnels and giant icebergs offer hours of enjoyment for kayak and Zodiac rides.
Rømer Fjord with its narrow channels and towering peaks is simply stunning, and lies roughly 167 km / 104 mi south of Scoresbysund. There are great hiking options in the fjord where flowering tundra plants, scattered bones of whales and muskox from centuries of hunting by the Inuit, and fumaroles can be found. These are areas where heated groundwater boil to the surface creating bubbling pools and mineral formations as the water reacts with the atmosphere.
Rode Ø Island is a glorious place for Zodiac cruising, hiking and kayaking, with its rich red Devonian sandstone geology. Discover the impressive mafic dyke that runs through the east side of Rode Ø. Glaucous gulls find perfect perches and nesting sites along the top of the basalt extrusions. Kayak along the maze of icebergs - pillars and arches, caves and peaks that look as though an artist had sculpted them.
The scenery here is breathtaking. Walk across the tundra alongside a ravine or Zodiac cruise where you might find musk ox, along with flitting shore birds, seals and a variety of colours in the lush Arctic tundra. Kayakers can enjoy sublime paddling in one of the most remote fjords in the world. Nearby is the spectacular and impressive Ø Fjord, a perfect place for small ship cruising.
If mountains rising 1,200 m / 3,937 ft straight out of the water wasn’t enough, how about the fjord itself, descending to 1,500 metres? There are also countless icebergs pouring out of the Daugård-Gensen Glacier. A great place for kayaking and Zodiac cruising with plenty of gorgeous bergs while the glacier itself, seemingly small from a distance, proved to be a formidable river of ice snaking down the valley.
No one can state the exact age of the neo-Eskimo site at Eskimobugt, but it may only be a few hundred years old. Subterranean winter houses designed with a tunnel that faces the sea where occupants would crawl through to the stand-up living chamber; at the opposite end is the sleeping platform. The walls were erected with carefully laid stones while the roof structure would be built from whatever material was available - driftwood, walrus bone, and available skin covering. Fire hearths were created by laying rocks in a circle with a bed of white quartzite stones. Learn from our historian about the incredible resourcefulness of the Inuit people whose men travelled formidable distances by kayak to hunt, and whose women crafted sophisticated garments from animal skins and fur – a people for whom survival in such extremes was paramount. Hiking here offers panoramic views, sightings musk ox and, occasionally Arctic hare.
See some of the most striking sedimentary sandstone, shale and siltstone formations imaginable. The alternating colours and patterns in the layers of rocks defied belief, and the layers of sediment here are estimated to have taken about 4,000 years to be laid down. You can also find the remains of a simple but highly effective wooden fox trap in use by Norwegian trappers in both Greenland and Svalbard from the early 1900s to 1960s. Skippendalen is also a marvellous place to hike and paddle in kayaks.
Other possible landing points in the area include:
• Nordenskjöld glacier & Blomsterbugten
• Bjorn Oya
• Milne Land
• Hekla Havn
• Denmark Island
Days 10-11 Greenland Sea
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’re 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.
Days 12-22 Svalbard Archipelago
Svalbard offers unspoiled, raw arctic wilderness at its best. With majestic mountains of jagged peaks, iridescent sea ice, countless glaciers and superb wildlife-viewing opportunities. Our experienced expedition team, who have made countless journeys to this area, will use their expertise to design our voyage from day to day, choosing the best options based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.
Cruise along phenomenal fjords stretching towards magnificent mountain ranges, discover a polar desert with creamy coloured slabs of rock, rich in fossils, hear heroic tales of early explorers contrasted with visits to cultural remains from the time of European whaling mainly Russian and Norwegian, witness walrus colonies hauled-out on sea ice or on beaches. While ashore we aim to stretch our legs, hiking on lush tundra where brightly-coloured summer wildflowers and lichen grow, and where reindeer graze, observe the towering cliffs alive with nesting sea birds, including Svalbard’s largest little auk colony. Without a doubt, our goal is to encounter the majestic polar bear on pack ice, and the expedition team are just as keen as you to find them— they are on constant watch to spot these dazzling creatures.
If you have chosen an optional activity such as kayaking, you’ll have the option to enjoy the activity whenever conditions allow, and of course keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters - conditions permitting!
Day 23 Disembark Longyearbyen
During the early morning we cruise back into Longyearbyen. Farewell your expedition team and enjoy a town tour, where you will visit Svalbard Museum and Galleri Svalbard, and take in the main sights of Longyearbyen including Office of the Governor, Svalbard Church, Nybyen (new town), a few of the town’s mines such as Santa Claus Mine, and a quick photo stop at the famous beware of polar bear street sign. Afterwards, transfer to the airport for your onward journeys.
NOTE: At the conclusion of the voyage, we do not recommend booking flights departing prior to 12.00 pm on the day of disembarkation in case there are delays.
- Group transfer to airport in Longyearbyen on Day 23
- On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
- A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
- Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
- Comprehensive pre-departure information
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- International or domestic flights, unless specified
- Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination charges
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
- Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
- Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
- Optional activity surcharges
- All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, additional medical expenses such as medication, gratuities, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges
Note: A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or increase/decrease the amount) when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members. This gratuity amount is included for suites as part of their ‘Suite Benefits’.
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
Whale and mammal spotting
From AUD $1,520.00/pp
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic or any of our global voyages. The experience of …
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic or any of our global voyages.
The experience of sea kayaking in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica or the European Arctic is guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, skim past penguin rookeries or under soaring bird cliffs, or drift quietly as you watch wildlife unobtrusively, absorbing the majestic scenery.
Led by experienced guides, paddling in small groups allows us the opportunity to paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes as well as allowing easy and intimate access to beautiful coastlines.
Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to see as much as possible. We paddle anywhere between 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 4 hours) per outing, sometimes taking a snack and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy on our excursion.
Each group of 4 to 10 kayakers will have their own intimate exploration of the small hidden bays and coasts that may be inaccessible to the Zodiacs and will also make time for their own shore excursions and wildlife encounters.
When we visit the poles, the elements play an important role. It is important that you have an adventurous attitude and understand that our kayaking time will be affected by the weather that we experience.
Even if your experience is limited, we’d encourage you to call us to discuss your suitability. There is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. Kayakers should be aged 14 years or over.
- Kayak & Paddle
- Neoprene boots
- Safety gear
- A 15-litre dry bag
- Life jackets
- Dry suits
- Pogies (insulated mittens that attach to your paddle)
Our guides have years of kayaking experience in our destinations. The sea kayaking guide will lead the group on each excursion, explaining facts about the wildlife and other highlights we paddle across. You can view our sea kayaking guides’ profiles here or see below.
How to Book
Simply inform our Expedition Experts at time of booking that you would like to include the optional sea kayaking activity for your expedition. Places are limited so we recommend reserving your place early.View more details
From AUD $1,520.00/pp
Explore the remote and rugged summits of East Greenland, scaling sheer granite cliffs and glacial remnants in pursuit of breathtaking …
Rock Climbing in Greenland
Explore the remote and rugged summits of East Greenland, scaling sheer granite cliffs and glacial remnants in pursuit of breathtaking views of Scoresbysund’s ice-filled fjords.
Experienced climbers will relish the chance to explore up and along the rarely-scaled peaks that dominate the landscape. And when you reach the top? A view that few people on earth will ever lay eyes on!
This is a unique opportunity to add a thrilling climbing & mountaineering experience to your Greenland expedition – and one not to be missed! So strap on your climbing shoes, clip on your carabiners and join us for an incredible climbing adventure.
Our Arctic rock climbing program requires a reasonable level of climbing experience (at least Grade 10/Difficult/5.2) and a solid level of fitness. There will be long, exploratory day climbs and opportunities for technical pitches. Abseiling experience is also an advantage. While there are opportunities to develop skills during the expedition, this is not an instructional adventure and is therefore unsuitable for complete beginners. However you can expect to learn aspects of technical climbing along the way.
Please note: Your guide will assess your ability on the initial climb and if you have insufficient experience, they reserve the right to restrict your participation.
Rock climbing participants should be fit and well prepared for this activity. You should be able to walk or climb with a moderate pack of approximately 10kgs for up to 4-10 hours a day.
If you have any queries regarding your suitability please do not hesitate to contact us. One of our guides will be more than happy to talk through the experience required with you.
Rock Climbing Outings
Our rock climbing activity will take place in the beautiful and rugged Scoresbysund on Greenland’s East Coast. We’ll begin with some training excursions on granite cliffs before attempting at least two major ascents over a series of challenging and exhilarating days.
The average outing will last between 4-10 hours, and we aim to get out every day we are in Scoresbysund; weather and conditions permitting.
Your Guides & Group
Your expert guides have many years of experience climbing and leading groups in Greenland and around the world and all hold relevant mountain instruction and safety certificates. You will also be joined by an expert polar historian who will be available to help you interpret the landscapes and historical sites we may encounter along the way. Our climbing excursions will have a minimum of two guides with a 1:5 ratio. More difficult climbs may require lower ratios. Climbers must be at least 14 years old to participate.
Conditions in Greenland are typically calm and settled, with average temperatures around 10?C (50?F) and the eastern coast enjoying an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. However, as with anywhere, the weather is unpredictable and you should be prepared to dress for different conditions. We recommend wearing appropriate layers in breathable fabrics to prevent sweating and protect against wind chill.
- Boots – You will require good quality hiking boots to access the climbing areas. Leather or synthetic boots covering the ankle running shoes will not be adequate.
- Waterproof jacket and pants lightweight Gore-Tex or similar
- Thermal underwear
- Lightweight gloves thermal
- Peaked cap
- A silk or cotton neck gaiter or scarf
- Good quality sunscreen and lip balm.
Travel insurance, including emergency evacuation, is mandatory on all Aurora Expeditions voyages and not included in the price of the activity. You will need to ensure that your insurance policy covers you for this activity and any related equipment. An additional policy or premium may be required to ensure you have adequate coverage. Please contact Aurora Expeditions if you need assistance with your insurance policy.
How To Book
If you would like to participate in our rock climbing activity, please return a completed activity form at the time of booking. Our guide will then review your form for suitability and experience before approving your place.
View more details
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*Terms & Conditions apply. Valid on select ship voyages only. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle which must be booked and deposited by January 26th 2021. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with the back to back voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The promotion can be withdrawn at any time and is not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of $2,500 pp in the booking currency is required within 7 days of reserved berth/s. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Please see full terms and conditions.