Iceland and Greenland – The Viking Heritage
Duration: 16 days
Ship: MS Roald Amundsen
6 August 2019
- Experience true wilderness and amazing birdlife on Iceland
- Explore some of the most spectacular and unspoilt scenery on earth on Greenland
- Visit historical sites from the Viking era
- Discover the heart of Greenland - villages, islands and spectacular fjords.
- Day 1 Reykjavik, Iceland
- Day 2 Heimaey
- Day 3 At sea
- Day 4 Umivik, Southeast Greenland
- Day 5 Skjoldungen
- Day 6 Exploration Day
- Day 7 Prince Christian Sound
- Day 8 Uunartoq
- Day 9 Qassiarsuk
- Day 10 Igaliku and Hvalsey
- Day 11 Ivittuut
- Day 12 Nuuk
- Day 13 Kapisillit
- Day 14 Maniitsoq
- Day 15 Kangerlussuaq
- Day 16 Copenhagen, Denmark
Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city. Norwegian settlers named the place Reykjavik (meaning 'Smoky Bay') after the columns of steam that rose from the hot springs in the area and made a profound impression. The surroundings offer fantastic natural beauty with geysers, mountains, glaciers and geothermal baths that are well worth exploring before embarking on MS Roald Amundsen.
Heimaey, or “Home Island” welcomes us for our first landing. The harbor has a very narrow entrance, caused by a volcanic eruption in 1973. As the lava flow threatened to completely close the haven, the ingenious islanders pumped thousands of litres of sea water to cool and slow the progress of the molten rocks. We hope to see some of the eight million colourful puffins that return to the island each summer to breed. Take some time to sit close to their burrows and watch the comings and goings.
We leave Iceland behind and sail across the Denmark Strait to reach Greenland. The Denmark Strait connects the Greenland Sea to the Erminger Sea. This crossing was used by the Vikings to migrate from Iceland to South Greenland some 1,000 years ago. They calculated their distance to land by tracking the direction of flight of sea birds.
The Denmark Strait was also a WWII battleground, with the Royal Navy and German Kriegsmarine battling on the 24th of May 1941. The British battle ship HMS Prince of Whales fought the largest German battle ship, the Bismarck, which was attempting to reach the North Atlantic in order to attack the allied merchant marine.
History and scenery combine to make today special! Umivik bay is fringed by many glaciers which calve their icebergs into the sea. On the northern shore of the bay are two abandoned settlements: little remains today. Our landing here takes place 131 years (almost to the day!) after Nansen stepped ashore in this bay to begin his pioneering crossing of the Greenland icecap.
Skjoldungen Island has been carved from Greenland by mighty glaciers, which we can see as we enjoy a cruise through the deep fjords. Stare up at the steep rock cliffs, rising to the magnificent peak of Azimuthbjerg over 1,700 metres high at the north west point of the island. The island is currently uninhabited, the last Greenlanders re-settled to towns further north in 1965. During the Second World War a weather station was situated here: they had a hard winter in 1942 as all their supplies were buried by an avalanche.
Our Captain and Expedition leader will be on the lookout for opportunities today: nature will dictate our activity programme. It may be possible to land at Igdlukulik in Lindenow fjord or take a cruise among the icebergs.
Prince Christian Sound, located nearly at the tip of the huge island, separates mainland Greenland with Sangmissoq and other islands of the Cape Farewell Archipelago. We sail through this narrow channel and enjoy the spectacular scenery here. The sound itself is around 100 km long and very narrow, sometimes only 500 metres wide. This long fjord system is surrounded by steep mountains, some more than 1,200 metres high. Enjoy the sight of glaciers calving icebergs straight into the ocean from the deck. If the channel is blocked with ice, we will sail around Nunap Isua (Cape Farewell).
Come ashore on the uninhabited island of Uunartoq. This small island is blessed with natural hot springs warm enough to bathe in. Scattered around the island are a number of pools fed by hot springs bubbling up from the ground below, keeping the water temperature a balmy 34-38 degrees, even during the freezing winter. The springs are set in a completely natural environment, in the middle of a grassy field, surrounded by mountain peaks and drifting icebergs. Soak in the warm water and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings.
In Qassiarsuk you will find green fields dotted with white sheep, lush vegetation and busy farmsteads; all this forms a colourful contrast to the icescapes at sea. Qassiarsuk is also where Viking Erik the Red built his Brattahlíð estate in 982 A.D. He was banished from Iceland and escaped to the land he called Greenland. Erik settled in Qassiarsuk because the area was considered the most fertile place in Greenland when he arrived.
Join a guided walk through the settlement, where you will learn more about the history of the region. You can visit the reconstruction of Erik’s longhouse and the church that Erik’s wife Tjodhildur made him build. The walk will include a visit at the town´s current church. This is also a great area to try optional activities such as kayaking, hiking, or exploring the town on foot.
Igaliku is one of the most beautiful villages in Greenland. This is the oldest sheep farming settlement on the island, and on arrival you will see tall mountains with peaks covered by snow during summer, lush valleys with flowers and, of course, sheep. Sandstone houses give a distinct flavour to the area, as does the stunning view to the Igaliku fjord. Experience the tranquillity and peace of this historic settlement.
Christianity was introduced to Greenland at the turn of the last millennium, with the first bishop being appointed way back in 1124. The impressive episcopal residence Garðar was established shortly after that date in Igaliku. A cathedral was built, the biggest of all churches in Greenland in the Middle Ages. For many years, the bishop's palace was a focal point for the Norsemen and visitors from Iceland and Norway. The ruins of the cathedral and the bishop's palace have been renovated during recent years and today constitute an attractive relic of the Viking period.
Igaliku's 27 inhabitants are very proud of their community and are eager to guide you through the village. In Hvalsey, you will find some of the best-preserved ruins from the Norse period; Hvalsey Church was probably built in the 14th century. Erik the Red's relatives established the farmstead late in the 10th century. In 1408, a wedding at the site's church is the last documented event to occur during the Norse settlement of Greenland. We use our PolarCirkel boats to come ashore to give you the chance to explore the area for yourself.
The abandoned mining town of Ivittuut is a stronghold for musk oxen. The settlement was built on top of the so-called Norse Middle settlement. More than a thousand years ago, Vikings settled the area with about twenty farms. It is the smallest and least well known of the Norse settlements on Greenland, and no written records of its residents have been found. This is why archaeologists believe it was the last one established, and the first to be abandoned. We might meet some of the hunters who return to seek shelter in the old houses by the sea.
Nuuk is the oldest town in Greenland and is situated at the mouth of one of the largest and most spectacular fjord systems in the world. Today this is where old and new traditions meet, from picturesque historic buildings in “Kolonihaven” to the centre for Greenland Home Rule. Being the capital, Nuuk also houses a university, a teachers’ training college, churches and the Greenland National Museum - home to the mummies from Qilakilsoq. City tours, hikes and possibly a scenic flight are amongst the optional excursions.
Kapisillit, which means Salmon in Greenlandic, is a small settlement of just under 100 people at the head of the Nuuk fjord. The real attraction today is the cruise journey along the fjord to reach and leave Kapisillit. In calm conditions, the reflections of the mountains in the still fjord waters are breath taking.
Since Maniitsoq is situated in an archipelago, intersected by small natural canals, the locals have dubbed the town the “Venice of Greenland”. Still, situated between the rugged peaks of the Eternity Fjord and huge glaciers, this is where all comparisons to Venice ends. The town name means “The uneven place” and refers to the many rocky knolls and small mountains shaping the structural layout of the town. Small roads and wooden stairs connect the colourful houses.
The exhibitions at Maniitsoq Museum provide a good introduction to local culture and history. The town also has a supermarket, Brugseni, and a few smaller convenience stores. But it is the surrounding landscape that impresses the most, and the area is perfect for kayaking. In the ocean waters nearby, humpback whales are particularly playful and love to show off with aerial acrobatics and tail whips. Enjoy a day exploring this tiny town set in majestic nature.
As we reach Kangerlussuaq, your expedition with MS Roald Amundsen has come to an end. After disembarkation you will join a final excursion towards the Greenland Ice Sheet. This vast icy wasteland stretches 1,500 miles north and reaches heights of up to 3,200 metres above sea level. The road to the edge of the Ice Sheet boasts beautiful natural scenery, ranging from Arctic desert and tundra with low growing shrubs, to hilly terrain offering breathtaking views over the landscape. Enjoy a BBQ meal in the evening before we transfer you to the airport for your late evening flight to Copenhagen.
You arrive in the Danish capital early in the morning and may even have the time to explore "Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen" before you head home.
Included in your voyage
- Hurtigruten Expedition in cabin grade of your choice on a full board basis
- Transfer ship to airport in Kangerlussuaq
- Excursion towards Icecap including dinner after the voyage
- Economy flight Kangerlussuaq to Copenhagen
- Wind- and water-resistant jacket
- Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
- Professional English-speaking Expedition team that gives lectures as well as accompany landings and activities
- Free tea and coffee
Not included in your voyage
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Luggage handling
- Optional Excursions and Gratuities
This cruise is not suitable for guests using wheelchairs due to the possibility of using tender boats during embarkation or disembarkation.
MS Roald Amundsen
|Passenger capacity||530 (500 in Antarctica)|
|Gross tonnage||20 889 T|
In 2019, Hurtigruten added a brand new ship to its fleet: the MS Roald Amundsen. The state of the art vessel features new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that will reduce fuel consumption and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible.
Heimaey Island Tour
Heimaey - Westman Island Walking Tour and Eldheimar museum
Heimaey - Boat tour
Heimaey - Rib Boat Safari
Lille Malene hike
Nuuk City tour
Cultural history walk
Igaliku historic sites and settlement
Extend your cruise
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