We landed in Greenland’s only international airport Kangerlussuaq. The town, whose name means ‘the big fjord lies at the end of Sondre Stromfjord. It is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 105 miles of superb scenery.
Having disembarked our privately chartered airplane we were met at the foot of the steps by a team from the immigration department who used the bonnet of their truck as the desk on which they inspected our passports and welcomed us to Greenland. We drove down the full length of the islands longest road to the dock all eight miles of it and used Zodiacs as ferries to Ocean Endeavour
Then after weighing anchor, we began our adventure by sailing down this dramatic fjord. As we did so the sun set slowly before us, dipping below the horizon as late as 2145 hrs.
Our next port of call was the second-largest town in Greenland. Sisimiut has been inhabited for the last 4,500 years, ﬁrst by the Inuit peoples of the Saqqaq, the Dorset, and then by the Thule. Their descendants form the majority of its present-day population of some 6,000 inhabitants. It is the largest business centre north of the country’s capital; Nuuk and the fastest-growing town in Greenland.
Sisimiut lies on the west coast of Greenland, forty seven miles north of the Arctic Circle. Sisimiut means “the inhabitants at the foxholes” and remains ice-free all year.
These ice-free conditions in the sea around Sisimiut, including some of Greenland’s deepest fjords, allow yachts to sail in waters that are home to many whales and seals.
Today, Sisimiut is the administrative centre of the Qeqqata municipality, and a modern fishing port with shipyards, high-tech prawn and crab processing plants as well as a small regional airport.
Interestingly the town has a heated open-air swimming pool, which is supported on stilts so the heat does not melt the permafrost.
We sailed on next to Ilulissat a town whose population of 4,500 is closely followed by its dog population of 3,500
The town lies at the mouth of a thirty five mile fjord headed by the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere, Sermeq Kujalleq. Given the massive amounts of icebergs floating in the long channel, it should be no surprise that llulissat means “icebergs” in Greenlandic, and there couldn’t be a more fitting name.
We arrived in the anchorage off the colourful town in thick fog. As it cleared we saw we were in the company of two other cruise ships.
Le Boreal and Albatros
Our visit began in the old port and we walked through the town hiking out along a boardwalk across marshland to an elevated viewpoint where we observed the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord stretched out before us.
Our next day of voyaging saw us weaving our way through monstrous icebergs of every different shape and size, cruised into Karrat Fjord. It is one of Greenland’s most spectacular fjords, known for plentiful marine life and inspiring landscapes. Seals use the long leads created by high winds in this region to hunt the rich waters of the ﬁord. Hiking ashore the cliffs and talus slopes within the ﬁord gave us good opportunities to see colonies of dovekies and Artic Hare. As a precaution the ship placed armed sentries ashore who declared the area free from bears but nevertheless kept a sharp eye out from high vantage points. Time spent on deck on our way back down the fjord result in some sightings of seals, not to mention unbeatable photographic opportunities of the majestic rock faces ashore and the island size chunks of ice.
We sailed through Baffin Bay landed on Kap York before we entered Foulke Fjord a shallow inlet often packed with ice and one that frequently provides favourable conditions for wildlife viewing as we found out. Journeying up the Fjord towards the Brother John Glacier
It was here at Latitude 78° 20’N that we reached the northern most part of our journey into the Artic Circle. It is also to be our last port of call in Greenland. Canada is calling!
Frances and Michael Howorth explored the North West Passages onboard Ocean Endeavour with the help of Destination Canada www.destinationcanada.com and Adventure Canada www.adventurecanada.com We are truly grateful to them both for the opportunity they provided with us to do our job.