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Discover Greenland: The Natural Habitat Experience

9 days with Natural Habitat Adventures   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1: Keflavik, Iceland / Reykjavik
You are met on arrival at Keflavik International Airport and transferred to our hotel in Iceland's capital of Reykjavik, about a 45-minute drive. If you arrive very early, you may store your bags at the hotel while you enjoy exploring the compact city. This evening, learn about all that lies ahead in Greenland during a welcome dinner with our Expedition Leader. 

Day 2: Reykjavik / Kulusuk, Greenland / Tasiilaq
Transfer to Iceland's domestic airport, just a short drive away, where we board our flight to Kulusuk, Greenland, about a 75-minute flight. From Kulusuk, we make a 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 back side" 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 till the turn of the 20th century, and that isolation has fostered a distinct and resilient culture. 

Our introduction to Greenland begins here where arctic wilderness and traditional lifestyles meet. On arrival, we convene at our hotel for a briefing before setting out to explore the area around Tasiilaq on foot, hiking into the Valley of Flowers above the scenic bay that fronts the town. Bring your camera: the ice-clad gneiss and granite peaks provide a backdrop for a vibrant landscape of waterfalls and small lakes fringed by arctic wildflowers in season. 

Day 3: Tasiilaq—Whale Watching & Hiking
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 we visit enjoys a surprisingly mild climate in summer, earning it the nickname “Arctic Riviera.” Our exploration starts with a half-day whale-watching excursion in the open waters of the Greenland Sea. Traveling in an enclosed private motorboat, we cruise in search of fin, minke and humpback whales, and seals. The icebergs alone are worth the journey: these are 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 have even come from 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. Back on shore, we'll take a scenic walk along the coastline and visit Tasiilaq's small but fascinating history museum. Time permitting, we may also have a chance for a cultural encounter or two around town.

Day 4: Tasiilaq / Base Camp Greenland
After breakfast, we depart via boat or helicopter for our exclusive wilderness Base Camp, located on the east side of Sermilik Fjord. Our destination is close to the small hamlet of Tinit, which we'll visit at some point during our 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 a hundred hardy people crafting a subsistence fishing and hunting existence around challenging weather and constantly shifting ice conditions. 

We'll keep an eye out for whales as we 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, and we find it an evocative place to learn more about Inuit history and lore. Reaching our destination at Base Camp Greenland, we find ourselves in one of the most remote places on Earth. After settling in to our deluxe private cabins, we sit down for coffee, tea and refreshments. Later we’ll convene for an orientation to our environs, followed by dinner and a lecture to further acquaint us with the remarkable natural history of the region. Through presentations and cultural visits during our stay, we also learn about Greenland’s cultural heritage and aspects of modern life. Traditional Inuit identity is at the forefront in East Greenland more than most other places in Greenland, and we'll have opportunities 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
The landscape along Greenland’s isolated and rarely visited east coast is wild and magnificent. Great fjords indent the coastline, penetrating far into sheer-sided mountains capped by the world’s second-largest ice sheet, and Sermilik Fjord is the mightiest of them all. Our base camp provides a safe and comfortable outpost from which to explore this vast expanse of wilderness that lies just below the Arctic Circle. Though we are profoundly secluded, the wider region is dotted with a few isolated villages where Greenlandic Inuit people practice subsistence lifestyles in this uncompromising Arctic environment. In varied encounters, we 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 we observe the rugged and ever-changing shoreline, navigating among a flotilla of icebergs in an array of wild shapes, some as big as buildings. We’ll look for whales and seals, both of which are present depending on ice conditions. Guided sea kayaking outings are also an option for exploring the waters around us. We spend plenty of time ashore, too, 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, is nearly 2 miles deep at its thickest point and covers 80 percent of the island. We learn about the crucial role it plays in regulating the earth’s climate, and see with our own eyes how rapidly it is being affected by climate change. Amid fields of Arctic cotton grass, look for Arctic fox and 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 our base camp, where we enjoy creative meals prepared by our accomplished camp chef. After dinner, gather for interpretive presentations by our naturalist Expedition Leaders who share their extensive knowledge of Greenland's geology, glaciology and human history. And, though 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 our wilderness cabins have real beds with full bedding (no sleeping on the ground in tents for our guests!), you'll be sure to get it, wrapped in the profound silence of our 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
Bid farewell to Base Camp Greenland this morning as we make our way back to Kulusuk. Weather and ice conditions dictate which transportation mode we will take, but both offer spectacular views. By helicopter, we survey huge U-shaped valleys gouged by glaciers, beneath pointed peaks. By boat, we navigate the imposing fjord system, keeping an eye out for whales and seals and marveling at the ever-shifting tableau of drifting ice. On arrival in Kulusuk, we check in to our hotel, drinking in the stunning views that surround us. Celebrating an extraordinary adventure of discovery, wild beauty and camaraderie, we enjoy a farewell dinner on our last night together in Greenland.

Day 9: Kulusuk / Reykjavik / Depart
Though today is devoted to journeying back to the urban world, it is filled with magnificent Arctic scenery on view from the air. We meet our plane for the return flight to Reykjavik's domestic airport where our adventure together ends. From here, a transfer is included to Keflavik International Airport for homeward flights.
Map
All This Included
As technology shrinks our planet and its farthest reaches become more accessible, novel adventures are ever rarer. But we're offering a genuine first: Natural Habitat’s Base Camp Greenland, a deluxe new safari-style camp near the edge of the Greenland ice sheet. In East Greenland, one of the most isolated places on Earth, our guests alone experience this raw Arctic landscape in supreme comfort. Greenland in summer is glorious: Once the snow melts, miniature wildflowers dot the tundra with color. By summer's end, tiny lowbush blueberries and crowberries ripen as dwarf birch turns to gold and russet. Whales frequent the fjord, while icebergs, spawned from massive glaciers, glitter in the light of a late sunset. Beneath granite peaks that tower over deep inlets, Greenland’s east coast—the “Arctic Riviera”—offers some of the best hiking and kayaking in the North. Nothing compares to Greenland for an epic Arctic adventure—and there’s no better way to experience it than from our wilderness base camp!
  • Airport transfers on or no more than two days before Day 1 and on final day of the itinerary or following day (transfers provided only if you are staying a group hotel booked by NHA)
  • Helicopter flight between Kulusuk and Tasiilaq
  • Accommodations including exclusive occupancy of Natural Habitat's Base Camp Greenland
  • Meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on the final day
  • Purified drinking water throughout the trip
  • Soft drinks at meals and alcoholic beverages with dinner while at camp
  • Services of NHA professional Expedition Leader(s), boat and camp crews
  • All boat transportation and excursions
  • Optional sea kayaking and hiking excursions
  • Gear including Mustang expedition suits for Zodiac excursions
  • Waterproof overshoes, kayaking gloves and booties
  • Mosquito head nets and dry bags
  • All kayaking equipment
  • Most gratuities
  • All permits, entrance fees and taxes
Highlights
  • Explore a maze of fjords and islands via boat excursions and guided walks, and witness the effects of climate change as melting glaciers calve massive icebergs into the sea
  • Join the select few to stay at our exclusive luxury expedition camp in view of the Greenland ice sheet, surrounded by pristine wilderness where we are utterly by ourselves
  • Enjoy cultural encounters with local Inuit who rarely see outside guests, and learn about how indigenous people past and present have sustained a hardy northern lifestyle
Accommodations
Reykjavik: Hotel Reykjavik Marina
Sermilik Fjord: Base Camp Greenland
Tasiilaq: Hotel Angmagssalik
Kulusuk: Hotel Kulusuk
Pre and Post Add-ons
Svalbard, Iceland & Greenland's East Coast - 17 Days / Jun - Jul, From $14950
Follow in the wake of Viking explorers as we look for polar bears in Svalbard, cruise the rarely seen east coast of Greenland and explore Iceland's remote Westfjords
 
Greenland & the Canadian Arctic - 15–24 Days / Jul – Aug, From $13990
Discover Arctic wildlife, indigenous cultures and dramatic glaciated landscapes on an expedition voyage in the path of polar explorers. (Itineraries vary)
Notes
  • Group Size Limit: Maximum 13 Travelers.
  • Not Included: Round-trip transportation to and from the start and end points of the trip (Keflavik, Iceland), early arrival and late departure airport transfers (other than those described above), round-trip air between Reykjavik and Kulusuk, alcoholic beverages (other than those mentioned above), optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, Internet, etc.), some gratuities, airline baggage fees, required medical evacuation insurance and optional travel insurance.
  • Physical Requirements: Moderate. Our Base Camp Greenland adventure is a genuine wilderness experience. Our deluxe safari-style camp, accessed via a scenic 4- to 5-hour boat transfer and/or short helicopter flight, is located in an exceptionally remote and rugged area. Guests must be prepared for typical activities that take place in such a setting and in unpredictable weather conditions. Good health and general physical fitness are a must, as we are far from medical facilities. Our walks and hikes require mobility and stability. Although all activities are optional, and alternate activities are usually available at varying levels of physical demand, all guests must be able to walk unassisted at least two miles over uneven and often rocky terrain without trails. We use open Zodiac boats to access the shore for exploration, and landings can be unstable. Landings may be either wet (requiring you to walk a short distance in shallow water) or dry (disembarking directly onto land), and may require walking over rocks or large boulders that can be slippery with seaweed. Our staff is available to assist for safety purposes, but guests need to be able to comfortably negotiate such uneven and unstable conditions. While at Base Camp, daily activities include nature walks or hiking, kayaking and Zodiac excursions of varying durations. Zodiac outings in the nearby fjords can last up to 8 or 9 hours (including stops), with opportunities for hikes ashore to explore geological and historic sights. We expect to operate in generally calm seas, but conditions can change quickly, and we may be exposed in the open boats to cold, windy or rainy weather. Travelers who have health issues that could be exacerbated by such conditions should take this into consideration. In Tasiilaq, our hotel is located atop a very steep hill high above town, and vehicle transportation is provided to and from our group activities for those who prefer to ride rather than walk.
  • Important Information About This Trip: Our journey to Base Camp Greenland offers the only opportunity to encounter one of the planet’s most isolated locations via luxury camping. As we head way off the grid on Greenland's remote east coast, guests must be prepared for all the vagaries that come with travel to such an isolated destination. These include inclement weather, varying ice conditions and a scarcity of operational materials, all of which makes a journey to our exclusive Base Camp Greenland an adventure in the truest sense. At times, flights may be canceled due to poor weather, routes may be closed due to changing ice conditions, and amenities may become unavailable until a new shipment arrives. But the adventure is part of the excitement, and we will use our 25 years of Greenland operating experience to make the best of even substantial itinerary changes, should they occur. Guests who desire a higher level of activity may participate in longer hikes and sea-kayaking excursions (weather, ice and local conditions permitting). These extended hikes will take place near sea level with some elevation gain, depending on the fitness level of those who opt to participate. Optional longer sea-kayaking excursions may also potentially be offered, with varied itineraries for individual desires and capacities. Our intent is to paddle in largely calm seas, though again, the weather can change with little notice, and excursions can occur in windy or rainy conditions. Shifting ice may also force us to alter our kayaking itineraries. All kayaking activities, whether scheduled easy excursions or optional longer excursions, are accompanied by a guide and safety boat. Please note that mosquitoes and tiny black flies can be quite prevalent and a real nuisance at camp and on outings ashore, particularly during several weeks at the height of the summer season (we cannot predict exactly when this will be). For our guests' comfort we provide head nets, but if you have allergies or are particularly sensitive to mosquito bites, please come prepared with proper clothing, adequate skin protection and anti-itch cream, if necessary.
  • Mandatory Insurance: Since the areas we travel to on this trip are remote and wild (that's why we go there!), we require medical evacuation insurance for our guests' safety. If you decline the medical evacuation insurance coverage offered by Natural Habitat, we request that you send us documentation of the independent coverage you have selected. We will add the cost of a medical evacuation policy to your tour invoice until you provide our office with proof of coverage including your insurance company's name, contact number and your individual policy number. Thank you for understanding that our policy exists exclusively in the interest of our guests' safety.
  • Getting There & Getting Home: Please arrive at the Keflavik International Airport no later than 3:30 pm on Day 1 of the itinerary in order to participate in a group welcome briefing and dinner. The transfer from the airport to our hotel near the Reykjavik harbor takes approximately 1 hour. 
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Natural Habitat Adventures terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.