20 September 2018
Today we wake up next to an island at the mouth of Fonfjord. It has been snowing overnight and the mountains look stunning with contrasting horizontal stripes of white and dark grey. We see our first other ship dwarfed against the icebergs.
After breakfast we head out in the Zodiacs to Danmark O (Danmark Island) – an important hunting site for both Paleo and Neo Eskimo cultures. Occupation dates back to more than 4000 years ago and continued through the Thule culture (1000-1600 AD). Where we land there is a miners/trappers hut. Cairns and other structures are from expeditions in the 1930s.
It is flatter than most of our shore excursions and we can travel quite a long distance in all directions. It is a perimeter excursion again with our trusty guides with rifles out staking the perimeter for polar bears. There is a long peninsular sticking out and I decide to get out to the furthest distance as quickly as possible to allow as much time to enjoy the scenery in peace.
All the little rock pools have frozen over and I spend lots of time admiring the various patterns forming in the surface of the ice – some look like cut crystal glasses.
I walk the last part of the distance with geologist/historian David who tells me about how the striped mountains were formed by layer upon layer of lava flows; and he points out the compression lines on the glacier across the bay that indicates that it is formed from the conglomeration of 8 glaciers all coming together from the ice shelf. We had also learnt that a floating glacier will calve off bigger icebergs than ones that are anchored to the sea floor.
As we found yesterday, the seemingly barren tundra yields a range of botanical gems if you look hard enough. I delight at the range of flowers that are still out. There is one called a moss campanion with little pink star-shaped flowers – these apparently flower on the southern side first and it has been known for lost people to be able to navigate using them.
Although we have quite a while to visit, it is still bitterly cold and we chill down rapidly when we stop moving. Several of us opt to go back to the ship early to have a shower and warm up.
Once everyone is back on board, the ship starts moving again to our next destination. After lunch we will be exploring Vikingsbugt (Vikings Bay) in the ship.
Vikingsbugt is magical – the mountains all around are covered with a dusting of snow and it is full of icebergs, bergy bits and sea ice (also covered with a dusting of snow). We cruise around the bay, keeping a look out for polar bears as we go. The crew are much better at this than we are.
One polar bear is spotted sleeping on a patch of snow up on the cliffs – it takes us quite a while to get our eyes in to find it. Actually it was so far away that our ‘eyes’ were binoculars and cameras. I was very impressed with my camera in that it got as good a shot as most of the enormous lenses that people were carrying around.
Then we saw a polar bear swimming in the water, moving very fast, but still a long way away. We hoped we might see it climb onto some ice but no such luck.
Another 2 bears were spotted climbing up the cliffs. It took me so long to locate them that I could only see one, but discovered later that I had captured the second one on film.
Despite it being extremely cold and we had all chilled down standing out on deck looking for polar bears, a zodiac excursion is decided on. We all put on multiple layers: long johns and fleece pants, 3 pairs of socks …
Out in the zodiacs we get up close to the towering ice cliffs at the terminal end of the glacier, marvelling at the blue marble like colouring. We speed around the bay clunking and bumping over the ice bits. We hear the constant clicking sound of the air bubbles in the ice escaping, and at one point there is a very forceful pop and a piece of ice lands in the zodiac.
Thankfully we are quite a distance away when a large chunk of the glacier breaks off – we hear the crack and see the splash and waves. There are spectacular iceberg formations and we cruise around them taking photos.
There is a call from the ship to say that 3 polar bears have been spotted walking up the black cliffs on the other side of the bay. I am the only person on our zodiac who manages to spot them (there is another opportunity once we are back on board) as it is difficult on a moving boat.
Back on board again we have time for a shower to warm up before our daily briefing. Lauritz teaches us some Greenlandic words Aluu (hello) and Baaj (Bye), and how to pronounce where we will be visiting tomorrow Ittoqqortoormiit (Eat Duck Door Meat). There were lots of other words and sounds that are quite unpronounceable. According to Lauritz “Qs are said as though you are just about to vomit but only half way up your throat”; 4 Qs in a row ‘Qaqqaq’ is quite a challenge.
Dinner tonight is a barbeque up on the top deck. It is zero degrees. The crew really get into the occasion with costumes and thankfully serve lots of mulled wine. The barbeque was delicious but cooled down very quickly – unsurprisingly. It was Jane’s birthday so they even brought out a cake and sang happy birthday.
There was lots of dance music playing so many of us got up to dance on deck (perhaps lubricated by the mulled wine). We danced for an hour or so and then headed inside to listen to David’s hilarious bar talk on “Abandoned in Greenland’.
Please join me over the next several posts as I take you on our Journey to the Arctic (and more).
Arctic Express: Northern Lights
Day 1: Copenhagen to Reykjavik
Day 2: Reykjavik to Constable Point, Greenland
Day 3: Scoresby Sund: Frederiksdal & Flyvefjord
Day 4: Scoresby Sund: Nordvestfjord & Ingmikortilaq
Day 5: Scoresby Sund: Eskimobugt & Immikkeerikajik
Day 6: Scoresby Sund: Danmark Island & Vikingsbugt
Day 7: Scoresby Sund: Cap Hope & Ittoqqortoormiit
Day 8: Scoresby Sund: Steward Island & Constable Point
Day 9: Constable Point back to Reykjavik
Day 1: Reykjavik: Blue Lagoon
Day 2: Golden Circle
Day 3: South Coast
Day 4: Jokulsarlon
Day 5: Eastern Fjords & Moorudalur Valley
Day 6: Moorudalur Valley & Lake Myvatn
Day 7: Akureyri & Trollaskagi Peninsular
Day 8: Grabrok Volcano & Snaefellsnes Peninsular
Day 9: Snaefellsness to Reykjavik
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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