Essential Greenland: Southern Coasts and Disko Bay Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Iceland, Greenland, Arctic
Programmes:
Polar Expeditions
Trip Code:
POU
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

15 Days Land only
Min age: 18

Trip Overview

Cruise around this enchanting island, sailing from the icy waters of the little-visited east coast, down to the lush southern tip and up to the charming communities and glaciers of the west coast, spectacular, unspoiled wonders await wherever you go. Each visit to the picturesque villages and Norse ruins that dot the shoreline will immerse you in Greenland’s distinct culture and history, while the rugged landscape—dominated by dramatic fjords, imposing glaciers, towering mountains and verdant valleys—will leave you breathless.

At a Glance

  • 12 nights on the ship, 2 nights hotel in Reykjavik
  • Expedition cruising in comfortable conditions

Trip Highlights

  • Search for iconic Arctic wildlife, such as whales, seals and seabirds
  • Explore the Ilulissat Icefjord and Kujataa farming communities, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Meet locals and experience traditional Inuit settlements
  • Visit Norse historical sites and learn about this fascinating culture
  • Cruise in a Zodiac to explore icebergs, glaciers, fjords and more
  • Travel in a small expedition vessel
  • Accompanied by extremely qualified Expedition Staff

 

Is This Trip for You?

Travelling Conditions

The voyages are designed to be as flexible as possible, taking advantage of circumstances and events as they occur, as well as passengers' wishes and particular interests wherever possible. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly with expedition staff, including naturalists and Polar experts, on hand and the opportunity to mingle with people from all over the world. The ship is kept warm, clean and comfortable with a wet/mud room in which to hang gear and store boots ready for the next adventure.

On the Zodiac cruises you are sitting still for most of the time with the potential for some sea spray and a cold headwind - if you are not dressed appropriately you will get cold. On the shore excursions, the majority of landings are wet which means that the Zodiacs beach and you are helped to slide into the ankle deep shore break before walking up onto dry land (wellington boots are issued to all passengers). There are, of course, no paths, so be prepared for slippery, rough terrain and sometimes fairly deep snow. Back on board the cosy ship after each adventure, you can have a sauna and/or a hot shower and then relax with a tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something stronger from the bar.

Optional activities

Sea kayaking option:

Kayaking in the Arctic is probably one of the most intimate and inspiring ways you can explore the rugged coastlines and calm bays of the regions we visit.

Kayaking in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent, however we guarantee at least one outing throughout your voyage, but your kayak guides will take you out as many times as possible throughout your voyage.

Offered on most Arctic voyages, spaces are limited and require some kayaking experience. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark.

Paddling Excursion: 

Explore the ocean from a more intimate vantage point on a sit-on-top kayak. No experience is required to manoeuvre these very stable kayaks, allowing you to enjoy an unforgettable experience on the water, taking in breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. Whether it’s your first time in a kayak or you want greater flexibility to try other Adventure options, this shorter excursion is for you.  
 
Paddling in the Polar Regions is highly weather-dependent and a one-time experience. Your kayak guides will attempt to take you out on the water for 1-1.5 hours of paddling. Offered on most voyages, spaces are limited. All equipment, guides and instructions are provided by Quark. 

Polar Itineraries

All Polar itineraries should be treated as a guide only - it is possible that, amongst other things, the capricious nature of wind, visibility and ice, intelligence from previous sailings, changes in local landing regulations or the expert opinion of the crew onboard may lead to adjustments to the route published.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

The Exodus group forms part of the ship’s complement (max of approx. 100), enjoying the relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere, which breaks into smaller groups to facilitate the frequent excursions. We offer these cruises in conjunction with our partner, Quark Expeditions, and Exodus participants will join an international group, not all of whom have booked through Exodus. Occasionally some of these may be younger than 12 years old, the Exodus' stated minimum age for this trip. We work with many fine Expedition Leaders and Polar Experts, bringing a diversity of interests including zoology, Polar history, geology, ornithology and ocean sciences. The ship’s operating crew is Russian and have many years of experience in Polar Regions and are committed to ensuring a safe and memorable journey. Each day your cabin will be serviced by the housekeeping crew, and your meals served by the friendly and attentive restaurant staff. There is also a resident medical officer.

Adult min age:
18
Max group size:
199

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive in Reykjavik, Iceland

    Arrive in the Icelandic capital and make your way to your included hotel. You will have the day to explore the city on your own.

  • Day 2

    Embarkation Day in Reykjavik

    This afternoon, you’ll board your vessel and begin your expedition. Get ready for a great adventure ahead!

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 3

    At Sea

    As we cruise across the Denmark Strait, the Expedition Team will teach you about the wildlife and storied history of Greenland, its fascinating geology, ecology and climate, and the incredible sights you will soon explore. Staff will also keep watch for the seabirds you’ll likely see soaring above your ship, as well as the whales that can be encountered here.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 4-5

    Exploring East Greenland

    Our exploration of Greenland begins with East Greenland, one of the least visited and most remote parts of the island. Your days sailing along the coast will be guided by weather and ice conditions, with each day and each excursion presenting new adventures. The region is a sight to behold, boasting a mesmerizing maze of vast glaciers, steep mountains and breathtaking fjords.

    One location we hope to visit if conditions allow is Skjoldungen, where you’ll cruise between the mountains to view glaciers deep within the fjords surrounding this island. The narrow part of the fjord provides an ideal place to put our Zodiacs in the water for a more in-depth exploration.

    If conditions allow, you may also visit the site of an abandoned Inuit settlement, whose inhabitants were relocated to larger, more accessible towns around 1961. Exploring ashore, you’ll experience a true Arctic ghost town, complete with abandoned buildings, furniture and even shoes! Hiking the rugged terrain rewards with impressive views of snow-capped mountains, deep green waters and the surprisingly colourful Arctic tundra. This site is prone to insects, however, so have your spray or netting at the ready.

    Another possible destination is Lindenow Fjord, a great spot for Zodiac cruising, if conditions are favorable. This rarely visited deep fjord is fed by a number of glaciers and offers ample opportunities for your camera to get a workout. You’ll also want to keep watch for Bearded seals, as they’re known to haul out on the ice floes.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 6-7

    Exploring South Greenland

    Sailing on, we’ll explore Greenland’s fertile southern coast. Nicknamed Arctic Patagonia, this region is as rich in spectacular scenery as it is in history and culture. Here, it’s easy to see why Erik the Red gave Greenland its name: everywhere you look rewards with vistas of icy waters set against a backdrop of soaring mountains, crystal-clear waterfalls and unbelievably lush, green valleys. Scattered around the shores of the fjord systems that dominate the area are several small settlements, both ancient and present day, making South Greenland an ideal place to explore.

    The magical Prins Christian Sund, a complex maze of narrow fjords and channels, is a great place for cruising. You’ll explore this stunning sound, home to calving glaciers, jagged mountains and sheer cliffs that plunge dramatically into the water. Sailing this coastline from the vantage point of your ship or a Zodiac is an exhilarating experience. If conditions allow, venturing ashore provides opportunities for all levels of hiking.

    Steeped in Norse history, the southern coast of Greenland provides plenty of places to learn about this ancient culture. One such landing we hope to make is at Hvalsey, the site of Greenland’s largest and best-preserved Norse ruins. Exploring the remains of the circa 14th-century church will feel like stepping back in time, as the building appears much as it did when it was abandoned in the 15th century and the surrounding fells and fjord remain similarly untouched.

    The little village of Igaliku, home to about 30 inhabitants, is Greenland’s oldest sheep-farming settlement. It’s a charming place to go ashore, as sheep peacefully graze on the grass, surrounded by bloom-covered rolling valleys and snow-capped mountains. The area is also known for its storied past, as evidenced by the remarkable red sandstone ruins of the Gardar cathedral (the largest church in Greenland in the Middle Ages) and bishop’s residence, which date back to the early 12th century, when Greenland’s first bishop was appointed. Wandering the foundations, excavated in 1926, you’ll get to see a bit of history firsthand as you learn about this interesting relic of the Viking period. Together with four other historic farming communities, Igaliku is part of a newly established UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Days 8-13

    Exploring West Greenland

    Boasting spectacular glaciers, mountainous landscapes, and vibrant communities, the west coast of Greenland will leave you awestruck. Heading north, each day we hope to take Zodiac excursions from the ship to explore local bays, channels and landing sites, discovering some of the quaint villages dotting the islands and fjords in the region and cruising in some of Greenland’s most picturesque places.

    The west coast is home to Nuuk, the charming Greenlandic capital. You’ll have time to wander the streets of the historic Old Nuuk neighborhood and see the Hans Egede Church and Hans Egede statue near the waterfront, both named after the missionary who founded the settlement. History buffs will want to visit the national museum to view the famous Greenlandic mummies, found under a rock outcrop in 1972 by two brothers who were grouse hunting.

    Sisimiut is another interesting place to go ashore, as there are more dogsleds here than humans. You’ll have time to wander the town’s historic area, where several 18th-century colonial buildings still stand, including Greenland’s oldest surviving church. You’ll also be treated to a traditional kayaking demonstration. The kayak is Greenland’s national symbol and can be traced back over 4,000 years to the Inuit, who used the vessels for hunting and transportation.

    Another beautiful locale, and one of west Greenland’s highlights is the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to one of the world’s most active glaciers, Jakobshavn Glacier or Sermeq Kujalleq in Greenlandic, this is a great place to enjoy a Zodiac excursion to experience icebergs from a unique perspective not afforded by land. Venturing ashore at the nearby town, Ilulissat (which means “iceberg”), rewards with its own spectacle: young bergs floating out to Disko Bay. A hike from the town to the icefjord will allow you to view this unforgettable river of ice from the rocky shore. Given that it’s known for having more sled dogs than people, it’s not surprising that Ilulissat is the birthplace of the first European to traverse the Northwest Passage by dogsled, explorer Knud Rasmussen.

    Surrounded by sea and mountains, the fishing community of Itilleq (meaning “crossing place”) is situated in a scenic hollow on a small island, about a mile (2 km) above the Arctic Circle. Explore traditional wooden houses painted in a rainbow of colors, chat with the locals and join a customary football (soccer) match between visitors and residents, and you’ll be experiencing Itilleq’s famous friendly vibe in no time.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 14

    Disembark in Kangerlussuaq & fly to Rekyjavik

    Enjoy one more Zodiac ride to shore, where you’ll board your charter flight back to Reykjavik, Iceland. Upon arrival in Reykjavik, we will transfer you to your included hotel.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 15

    Depart Reykjavik, Iceland

    Today, you can make your way home at your leisure or spend some time exploring this artistic city

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner

Accommodation

Polar Adventure Ship

The Essential Greenland: Southern Coasts and Disko Bay voyage is offered on the Ocean Adventurer and the Ultramarine which are Polar Adventure Ships. One night in a standard hotel in Oslo is included. Full board accommodation on the ship, generally on a twin share basis in a variety of cabin types, all with en suite facilities. Please visit the Polar Fleet page (www.exodus.co.uk/polar-holidays/polar-fleet) for Ship Information and Deck Plans.

Polar Adventure Ships

These are small ice rated vessels well qualified for Polar waters. Intimate adventures are always more enjoyable with like-minded passengers and staff, so these voyages are for people who like flexible itineraries and plenty to keep them busy. Activities include frequent Zodiac excursions, trekking, kayaking and many hours on deck in areas that other ships only dream about accessing. Food and staff are superb and every guest benefits from the technical advances of this superb fleet. Rest assured our Polar Adventure Ships enable any traveller to maximize their experience sensitively in the Poles.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All meals while on the ship included.

Typical Meals

The ships galley offers good quality service and cuisine throughout, with excellent chefs preparing international menus including vegetarian dishes, accompanied by a wide variety of drinks from around the world on sale.

Breakfast: Buffet style – unlimited tea and coffee, a selection of fruit juices, hot options including bacon and eggs or omelettes, a selection of bread and toast and jam/honey/marmalade, fruit and cereal.

Lunch: Three course set meal, or the occasional buffet or BBQ.

Dinner: Three courses with a starter of soup, salad or anti-pasto, a choice of three mains with at least one vegetarian and one seafood option and a dessert of sweet pudding or ice cream or fruit, tea and coffee.

Transportation

During the expedition, you will visit remote and isolated sites that are accessible only by Zodiac landing craft. Designed for expedition work, these large and heavy-duty inflatable vessels are extremely safe.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Greenland has an Arctic climate with average temperatures that do not exceed 10° C in the warmest summer months.  However, the conditions in the coastal regions of the Arctic during the northern summer are both mild and changeable. Enjoyable sunny days can swiftly change to cold, windy storms with snow flurries and rolling seas. Average daily temperatures in mid-season are between -4 and +2 Celsius; however, wind conditions can make it seem colder. It is common that you will experience daytime temperatures below freezing.

Joining Instructions

Travelling land only: 15 days starting and ending in Reykjavik

Your trip normally starts at our hotel in Reykjavik in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start:
Reykjavik
Location end:
Reykjavik

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Boots – Rubber boots are essential for a Polar expedition, but to eliminate these from your packing list we will loan you a pair for the duration of the voyage.
Parkas – A complementary Quark parka will be provided on the ship.
Trousers – Waterproof trousers are essential for Zodiac travel as well as activities on shore.
Gloves – To keep your hands warm and dry, pack a minimum of two pairs of gloves: a pair of thin polypropylene gloves to be worn underneath warm outer gloves.
Hat and Scarf – Pack a warm, woollen hat or cap that covers your ears, as well as a scarf, neck gaiter or other face protection.
Socks – For maximum warmth, we suggest that you wear two pairs of socks to wear inside the rubber boots.
Outer Clothing – Pack woollen or fleece jumpers and tops, plus several turtlenecks for layering.
Underclothing – Pack silk or polypropylene underwear since it will keep you warm without adding bulk.
Knapsack or Backpack – To keep your hands free for shooting photograph, bring a water resistant or waterproof knapsack or backpack.
Shoes – Non-slip shoes for walking around the vessel.

Optional Equipment

Swimsuit
Sunglasses
Binoculars
Camera, extra batteries, film or memory cards
Protective sunscreen
Electric converter with adapter plug set
Small medical kit containing prescription medicines and over-the-counter medication for basic ailments such as stomach upsets, allergies, headaches and seasickness
Snow poles or trekking poles

Practical Information

Passport

Iceland

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Iceland

No visa required for British passport holders.

Greenland

No visa required for British passport holders.

Arctic

No visa required for British passport holders.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Iceland

There are no specific health risks.

Greenland

There are no specific health risks.

Arctic

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Iceland's Timezone:
Atlantic/Reykjavik GMT (GMT +00:00)

Electricity

Iceland's Electricity:

230 Volts. Plug types C & F; establishments often take two round pin plugs.

Greenland's Electricity:

Standard European adapter required. 220 Volts.

Arctic's Electricity:

The electrical supply on board most of the Polar vessels is 220v/50Hz.

The electrical outlets found in the cabins and around the ships on most Polar vessels accept standard European two round pin plugs, so you may need to bring your own travel adapter.

Money

Iceland's Currency

The national currency of Iceland is the Iceland Krona (ISK), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (January 2019) of approximately 156 to the GBP,  121 to the USD, 91 to the CAD, 138 to the EUR, 87 to the AUD and 82 to the NZD.

Greenland's Currency

The national currency of Greenland is the Danish Krone (DKK) with an exchange rate at the time of publication (July 2018) of 8.4 to the GBP, 6.4 to the USD,  4.85 to the CAD, 7.5 to the EUR,, 4.3 to the NZD and 4.7 to the AUD.

Arctic's Currency

On board all Polar vessels USD are accepted as the primary currency.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

On board the ships all transactions are in US dollars. 
At the conclusion of your voyage, you will be presented with an account. This will include any drinks from the bar, laundry or ship’s shop purchases for which you have signed. You may pay for this in US Dollars cash, credit card (Visa or MasterCard ONLY) or US dollars Traveller’s Cheques.
Please note: on the last evening, once your ship account has been settled, credit card payments are no longer accepted. It is therefore advisable to bring at least some US$ cash if you wish to purchase drinks from the bar or any items from the on board shop at this time.

Tipping

The appropriate amount to tip the staff and crew is a personal matter but it is customary to provide an end-of-cruise gratuity (as a rough guide approximately US$13-15 per day per passenger would be appreciated)

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.