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My Greenland: Hilmar's Arctic Expedition

The following post is part of our "My Destination" series, in which we ask our staff to tell us about their favourite highlights in our Nordic destinations. Today's staff blogger is Hilmar, one of our friendly travel consultants at our head office in Iceland.

Following in his Icelandic seafaring heritage, he spent eight days on a schooner in Greenland sailing in the remote eastern region. Although his cell phone didn't make it back to Iceland, Hilmar returned just fine, and he tells us his story below.


Greenland has always owned a piece of my heart since I first visited Kulusuk and Ammassalik in 2004. I got a chance to visit again this autumn, but in a completely different way. Unlike Eiríkur Rauði (Eric the Red, famous Viking who discovered Greenland) I visited just the East Coast this time. But as I am often told I look like a Viking (or pirate) because of my beard, it was very fitting that I went there like Eiríkur on an expedition voyage.

Hilmar the viking pirate
Hilmar, our resident "Viking-pirate", experienced travel consultant, aspiring Arctic explorer and author of this blog post. Busy guy!

 

On this trip I spent a week sailing in the Scoresby Sound (Kangertittivaq), the world's largest fjord system. I started the tour from Reykjavík Airport and flew about two hours to Constable Point in East Greenland, which is one of the most remote airports in the world. From there I boarded Ópal, the sturdy schooner operated by one of our trusted suppliers, and four hours later we put the anchor down by the settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit.

The next eight days were full of real Arctic adventures. Along with other travellers from all over the world, we sailed away from all civilization, visiting remote places and experiencing some beautiful and unusual formations of nature. As passengers we slept in cabins on board and also took part in the daily sailing routines, like pulling up the anchor, which was a good morning workout.

sailing in the fjord system
Sailing through the s-shaped Rensund around the island of Danmark. Icebergs everywhere!

 

It's hard to describe East Greenland in words. The people are friendly, the landscapes are incredible and the culture is very different from other places I have visited -- this area of Greenland is still mostly a hunting society and the infrastructure is very basic. Experiencing total isolation with no internet, Facebook and cell phone (which sadly fell overboard on Day 2) was probably the most difficult part to cope with at first. Remember to hold your phone tight when taking selfies!

Hiking on land
Everyday we went on land. This is the breathtaking view over Charcot Havn under the guidance of our armed but not dangerous guide, Captain Philip.

 

But after the first two days I really started to enjoy the simple life. I spent some time on the deck with my binoculars scouting for muskoxen, snow hares, grouse, geese and other wildlife. We also did a lot of hikes, and I have never before experienced walking on land that is so untouched by other humans. A pure expedition experience.

Sailing on an old wooden schooner among the icebergs and hearing the thunder-like sound of ice breaking is an experience I will never forget. And since I did not get to see any polar bears on this trip, I will use that as my excuse to visit again!

The Hildur schooner
Sailing among Icebergs - From the Airport to Ittoqqortoormiit we sailed alongside another schooner, Hildur.

Want your own Arctic adventure in Greenland?

We offer a wide selection of holiday packages in Greenland, including short breaks in East Greenland.

Most of our tour packages in Greenland include comfortable lodging in hotels or guesthouses, and activities are usually suitable for beginners. For a more rugged expedition trip like Hilmar's, we can arrange a custom tour for you.

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Post by: Jessica

When not writing about Northern European tourist attractions, Jessica Bowe is busy daydreaming about her next trip or scouring Instagram for travel inspiration. Originally from Wisconsin (USA), she's lived in Iceland since 2008 and has since become fully immersed in Eurovision mania and Scandinavian coffee culture.

More posts by Jessica

Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way, check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.

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