This rare, adventurous expedition aboard Aurora Expeditions'sGreg Mortimer traverses three enigmatic coastlines, offering a unique insight into the vibrant Inuit and Viking history of the North Atlantic, and the possibility of witnessing the northern lights. Zodiac cruise the remote south coast of Iceland, home to the largest Atlantic Puffin colony in the world and keep watch for whales and seals in their summer feeding grounds. Enjoy a traditional Kaffemik with friendly Inuit locals in southern Greenland and discover the magnificent Torngat Mountains National Park in Canada.
Iceland, Greenland & East Canada
23 September 2020
Included in this Package
One night’s hotel accommodation with breakfast in Reykjavik
Tour to Thingvellir National Park and Gullfoss waterfall and transfer to the ship
Luggage transfer from your hotel in Reykjavik to ship
Transfer to St. John’s airport
On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
Comprehensive pre-departure information
A printed photo book produced with photos from your voyage
Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
London / London
Fly from London to Reykjavik. Transfer to hotel in Reykjavik.
Tour to Thingvellir National Park and Gullfoss waterfall and transfer to the ship
The Westman Islands are situated just off the south coast of Iceland. The main island, Heimaey, has a population of
about 4,000. The islanders have made their living from the sea from the days of the first settlement and no port in
Iceland registers bigger catches than here and the island has a wonderful buzzing atmosphere.
Heimay’s main attractions are accessible on foot and you have the option of a guided walking tour including a visit to
Eldfell volcano; the other option is to discover the island in small groups by bus, introducing you to the main
attractions of the island. We leave the perfectly-formed natural harbor area with its tall cliffs, which during Spring
and Summer are inhabited by large numbers of puffins, fulmars and guillemot. We drive from the pier into the
Herjólfsdalur valley, to see the ruins of old Viking houses dating back to 900 AD and visit a replica of the Viking
house. You’ll continue along the western part of the island, where you’ll see outer islands, the youngest being
Surtsey, born from a huge volcanic eruption starting in 1963.
Afterwards, visit “Stórhöfði” (Great Cape), one of Earth’s windiest places, offering magnificent views over the island
and to the majestic glaciers of the mainland such as Eyjafjallajökull. Returning to the harbour, the drive takes us
between two volcanoes, the 5,000-year-old volcano “Helgafell” and the younger volcano “Eldfell” (“Mt. Fire”). We
drive into town, passing the ruins of a house buried in lava from the eruption of 1973. Lastly, visit the Eldheimar
museum that features specific exhibitions dedicated to the volcanic eruption that created Surtsey Island, a UNESCO
world-heritage site. We plan to see Surtsey island on a special ship cruise, sailing past the cliffs surrounding the
harbour passing bird colonies and exploring caves that can only be visited by boat; landings are not allowed on
Surtsey Island. Westman Islands features one of the largest varieties of sea bird species in Iceland including puffins,
gannet, and guillemot as well as other nesting sea birds, and although it’s late in the season, we hope to still see
some of these bird colonies, albeit in reduced numbers. We may be lucky and catch site of whales, dolphins and
porpoises. We then sail into Klettshellir (Cliff Cave) where a musical instrument is played on board. The acoustics in
the cave provide a wonderfully unique lcelandic experience. We then return to the harbour to drop off our Icelandic
captain before departing Iceland to sail to South Greenland.
expedition team and fellow travellers, enjoy a book you’ve been looking forward to reading, photograph soaring sea
birds accompanying us, or treat yourself to a massage in the wellness centre.
Autumn brings shorter days and when the sun goes down, look up. Chances are, you’ll see something to take your
breath away – bright green ribbons of light dancing and swirling across the night sky. You’re in the zone of the
Aurora Borealis – a natural phenomenon that occurs when electrically charged particles from solar flares enter the
magnetic northern atmosphere. There is simply no grander or more spectacular light show on earth.
Crossing the Greenland Sea
We enter magnificent Prince Christian Sound - a famous channel in southern Greenland that enables a safe passage
for the largest ships between the East Coast and South Coast. It separates the mainland from the southern
archipelago and saves marine traffic from being exposed to the dangerous storms around Cape Farewell. The sound
is named in honour of Prince Christian, later King Christian VIII of Denmark.
Prince Christian Sound connects the Labrador Sea with the Irminger Sea. It is around 100 km (60 miles) long and can
be as narrow as only 500 metres (1,600 ft) wide. The fjord is surrounded by steep mountains, reaching over 2,200
metres (7,200 ft) high. Many glaciers go straight into its waters where they calve icebergs. There is only one
settlement along this sound, Aappilattoq, at the extreme western end.
This waterway is one of the most historically rich sources of exploration history. It is almost certain that Erik the Red
discovered this shortcut to the west coast, avoiding the usually dangerous passage around Egger Island, and that his
colonising fleet passed through here in 986. It follows that all the voyages between Iceland and Greenland during the
500 years of settlement would most likely have taken this route.
Arriving early morning, we enjoy a slow cruise through the sound enjoying the splendid scenery. There may be some
icebergs at the entrance and in the sound – great for photography. If the ship can fit we might squeeze into
Kangerdluk Fjord, a small offshoot to Prince Christian Sound, and to look at the glacier there. After lunch, we reach
the most northern fjord, Kangersuneq Qinngorleq, a beautiful fjord that has a glacier front at the end, perfect for
zodiac cruising and kayaking, weather-permitting. On our way through the southern part of the sound, we pass the
tiny settlement of Appilatoq, meaning red in Greenlandic, after the red mountain rising above it. The village is famed
for the extraordinary sharp mountain peaks that surround it, a delight for photographers
culturally significant and has enjoyed protected status since 2004. Located next to the church is a landmark boulder
called the Knud Rasmussen Stone. It is named after Greenland’s most famous citizen Dr Knud Rasmussen, an
explorer and ethnologist who created the field of Eskimology. He led several long and difficult ethnographic
expeditions across the Arctic and was the first person to traverse the Northwest Passage, sledging through winter.
The Nanortalik Museum’s exhibits are spread across several different buildings and feature summer tents, kayaks
and a rarity, the oldest umiaq or cargo boat, ever discovered. The boat dates back to 1440 and was found in 1948 by
Danish polar explorer, Eigil Knuth.
Narsarsuaq offers easy walks, which include Norse ruins, Inuit graves, old farm houses, and maybe even some berrypicking.
It’s also an excellent opportunity for kayakers to circle the little peninsular of Narsarsuaq Uunatoq, offering
accessible beach landings on both sides of the peninsula.
Uunartoq island is located in the Kujalleq municipality in southern Greenland, lying halfway between Qaqortoq and
Nanortalik. Hot springs are abundant in South and West Greenland, but Uunartoq island is home to the only hot
springs in the country that are warm enough to bathe in. People have appreciated Uunartoq's remedial springs for
more than 1,000 years. During the Viking era, the Norse settlers constructed bath tubs with boulders around the
springs creating a medieval spa. The Benedictine nuns living on a neighbouring island in a convent dedicated to Olaf
the Holy helped the sick benefit from the health-giving powers and pain-relieving effects of Uunartoq's warm water.
Legends dating back to this period tell how the island’s warm waters cured the sick, relieved their suffering and
helped them regain their health. When the Norse settlers disappeared, the Thule Inuit, ancestors of present-day
Greenlanders, took over. Qerrortuut Inuit ruins dating back to the late 18th and early 19th century can still be found
on the island. The uniqueness of the location has attracted scientists for centuries.
Scattered around the island are a number of pools fed by hot water springs bubbling up from the ground below that
keep the water temperature a balmy 34-38 degrees even during the freezing winter. What’s unique about Uunartoq
is that the hot springs are in a completely natural environment in the middle of a grassy field. The only structures
fashioned by the hand of man are a gangway and two modest sheds in which to change. The ruins of a nunnery stand
nearby. Pieces of icebergs drift offshore, and many whales frequent these waters.
Aside from soaking in the thermal springs, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the remnants of 500 years of
different building styles and communal graves in the area. Several sites and graves date back to the 16th century.
There are also ruins of a nunnery built near the hot springs after Greenland was Christianised in the early 11th
After exploring Hvalsey ruins, we continue to Qaqortoq, where our Zodiacs take us ashore. Qaqortoq is the capital of
South Greenland with a history dating back to 1775. The town offers many cultural activities and just walking around,
you will experience the “Man and Stone” art project, which is stone carvings made by different artists throughout
the city. Qaqortoq is Greenland’s southernmost town and is the administrative centre of the whole Southern
Greenland Kujalleq municipality. The area around Qaqortoq has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The earliest
signs of Saqqaq presence date from roughly 4,300 years ago. More recently, the Dorset people arrived in the
Qaqortoq area around 2,800 years ago. Several rectangular peat dwelling structures, characteristic of the early
Dorset culture, can be found around the wider Qaqortoq area.
Trade between the Norse and the Thule people was scarce. Apart from a few novel and exotic items found at Thule
sites in the area, evidence suggests cultural exchange was initially sporadic. Later, the south Greenland Norse
adopted trade with the southern Inuit and were for a time the major supplier of ivory to northern Europe. The Norse
era lasted for almost five hundred years, ending in the mid-15th century. The last written record of the Norse
presence is of a wedding in the Hvalseyjarfjord church in 1408.
The building that now houses the Qaqortoq museum was originally the town's blacksmith's shop. The house was
built in yellow stone and dates back to 1804. The oldest standing building at the historical colonial harbor is a blacktarred
log building from 1797. It was designed by royal Danish architect Kirkerup, pre-assembled in Denmark,
shipped in pieces to Qaqortoq, and then reassembled. Qaqortoq’s landmark building is the Church of Our Saviour
(Danish Vor Freslers Kirke), also called St Saviour. This large wooden Lutheran church, known as The Red Church, it is
part of the old colonial harbour district of the town.
From 1993 to 1994, Qaqortoq artist Aka Høegh and other 18 Nordic artists created the Stone & Man project,
designed to transform the town into an open-air art gallery. Eighteen artists initially carved 24 sculptures into the
rock faces and boulders around the township. Today there are over 40 sculptures in the town, all part of the Stone &
Attend informative and entertaining lectures ahead of our arrival into Canada’s spectacular and remote East Coast.
Our team of experts may present on the incredible geology or the rich wildlife found in the Torngat Mountains National Park.
Crossing Davis Strait
troughs, fjords and the majestic mountains dominated by Mount D'Iberville make it an exceptional destination to
We are privileged to visit Kangiqsualujjuaq community, where you will meet with friendly locals who are proud to
show you their home. Let the cheerful and friendly Inuit welcome you to their corner of the world and introduce you
to the distinctive characteristics of their cultural and linguistic heritage, art and stories. First-time visitors to Nunavik
are often amazed by the beauty and unworldly splendour of sunsets in the North. Nunavik stands in a fabulous place
at the edge of the world where an expansive sky endlessly meets a bare horizon.
Discover the splendid Autumn tundra on a short hike. Nature in Nunavik is truly wild, unspoiled and dominated by
seemingly boundless expanses. The flora, with its many varieties of lichen and tiny, brilliantly coloured flowers,
reveals itself during the short but intensive summer. Terrestrial wildlife in the region is just as diverse. The world's
largest caribou herds, totalling almost one million head, roam freely in Nunavik! Not to mention musk-ox; a truly rare
species. You might be lucky and observe and even photograph these animals, assisted by Inuit guides who possess a
thorough knowledge of their habits.
Torngat Mountains National Park
Torngat Mountains National Park is a mysteriously beautiful landscape reminiscent of Earth a million years ago. It
takes its name from the Inuktitut word ‘Tongait’, meaning place of spirits. The Torngat Mountains National Park is
located at the northern tip of Nunatsiavut Autonomous Region and was created in 2005 with the signature of the
Labrador Inuit Land Claim Agreement. It is 9,700 square kilometres (3,745 square miles) of spectacular wilderness
stretching from Saglek Fjord in the southern end of the park to the northern tip of Labrador, and westward from the
Atlantic sea coast to the Québec border. It's a land of mountains and polar bears, small glaciers, and caribou, where
the Inuit hunt, fish, and travel, as their predecessors did for thousands of years.
The Torngat Mountains are a very spiritual place for Inuit residents of Nunatsiavut region. Before the presence of
Moravian missionaries in the 18th century, the Torngat Mountains were a place where Inuit shamans would travel to
communicate with spirit helpers. Shamans would invoke the spirits to assist with initiations or to acquire a certain
power that was needed. The mountains represented a very strong connection to the Inuit spirit world.
The Torngat Mountains are also home to some rock formations that are almost 4 billion years old, making them the
second oldest in the world! To this day, the Torngat Mountains remain a place of energy and power. Community
members from Nunatsiavut and visitors from throughout the world have all expressed a newfound sense of self
when they leave the Torngat Mountains.
Over the next two days, we will explore the deep fjords and channels by ship, Zodiac cruising through some of the
most spectacular and dramatic landscapes found anywhere in the world, and getting out for hikes, searching for
wildlife, and perhaps visiting archaeological sites. Weather conditions and tides will determine our itinerary and
landings during our time exploring Torngat Mountains National Park. We plan to sail through Eclipse Channel and
Nachvak Fjord, and Saglek Fjord around the southern part of the national park, where we’ll look for polar bears
roaming the rocky shores of the outlying islands of the park. You’ll meet friendly local residents along the way and
perhaps be lucky to catch a glimpse of wolves scavenging along the banks of the rich fishing grounds or perhaps even
black bears fishing. In the evening, when surrounded by complete darkness, try spotting the Northern Lights, the
crowning glory to the dramatically beautiful Torngats.
Torngat Mountains National Park
See Day 13
As we sail south to Nain, our onboard lecture series continues and you’ll learn about the history of Moravian
missionaries. Spend your free time catching up on editing photos and relaxing in the various public areas, stay active
in the fitness centre or unwind in the wellness centre.
Nain is the northernmost and largest community in Nunatsiavut. Nain was an important outpost for the missionizing
efforts of the Moravians. Beautiful artefacts and buildings built by the Moravians remain in the community to this
day. You may remember from the lecture that Moravian missions were established by the Moravian United
Brotherhood and operated between 1733 and 1900. The Moravians, originally from Bohemia, were Roman Catholic
missionaries operating in a country that had been Lutheran since King Christian III formally decreed the change in
These missions are historically and culturally significant, firstly because they tried to convert people using a belief
system that conflicted with the official religion of Denmark and divided Inuit into two opposed religions. The
missions funded their operations from trade of local products in ways that exploited local hunters and maintained a
European hierarchical structure that was biased against the local Inuit. The Moravian Church's missions in Greenland
were created by Count Zinzendorf, and after a settling-in period, were very successful. In 1747 the United
Brotherhood delivered the timber and erected the first Moravian church.
In smaller groups accompanied by local guides, you will be taken on a walking tour visiting the town’s key sites
including the Moravian church; Torngat Arts and Crafts Gift Shop; Illusuak Cultural Centre and perhaps see a
demonstration of stone carving by a local carver. Time-permitting, there may be an option for a hike to Mount
Sophie, up to two hours roundtrip. A local Inuit bear guard will accompany the walk as you are leaving town limits
and bears frequent the area.
Located in the heart of Nunatsiavut, Hopedale is the legislative capital of the Nunatsiavut Government. Originally
known by its Inuktitut name Arvertok, which translates to "the place of whales", the community was renamed to
Hopedale by Moravian Missionaries arriving from Germany in 1782. Hopedale has always played an important role in
the history of the Labrador Inuit and continues to play an important role by being at the centre of decisions that
affect the future of Nunatsiavut.
Today, there remains an incredible legacy of structures and artefacts from the Moravians in Hopedale. Some of the
oldest wooden-framed buildings in Canada still stand in Hopedale. Graveyards have tombstones dating back to the
1800s, and the view when arriving at the dock is much the same as it was 200 years ago. Take a walk through the
Nunatsiavut Assembly Building and learn about the local labradorite and seal skin materials found throughout.
Browse through the Moravian Mission Museum Interpretation Centre to view three storeys of artefacts and written
materials collected since the late 1700s.
Battle Harbour is a restored, 19th century fishing village on a small island in the Labrador Sea. Regarded by
generations as the unofficial capital of Labrador, it was once the salt fish capital of the world and also a government
centre bringing medicine and supplies to Indigenous communities to the north. Spend a few hours in Battle Harbour
exploring the buildings and walking the trails on this island with local, knowledgeable hosts. Hiking the island reveals
its Arctic vegetation and rock formations. In this sub-Arctic region, the dark Autumn night sky is full of bright, gigantic
stars occasionally joined by the northern lights.
L''Anse aux Meadows
Depart the pier for the short drive to L’Anse aux Meadows aboard a local school to visit the Norse site discovered in
1960 by Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad. L’Anse aux Meadows was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in
1978 and is the first authenticated Norse settlement in North America. Norse sagas had spoken of their discovery for
centuries, but it wasn’t until the discovery of a small cloak pin in 1968, by archaeologists Helge and Anne Stine
Ingstad confirmed that Leif Erickson and crews of Norse explorers settled here in Newfoundland and Labrador (or
Vinland as they called it). Wander the new world home of Leif Ericson and learn about the sagas and technologies of
the Norse that explored North America over 10 centuries ago.
Visit the Parks Canada interpretive centre (exhibits and site videos/overview) and then follow the site trails to the
archaeological dig sites before visiting the recreated longhouse to discover what life was like at this Norse trading
post in 1000 AD. A short drive from the Parks Canada/UNESCO site brings you to Norstead, a recreated Norse Village.
See the replica of the Viking Knarr “Snorri”, a boat that sailed here from Greenland, and named for the first European
child born in North America.
Today’s other shore excursion reveals the fascinating story of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, a young English doctor and
pioneer who in 1892 visited Newfoundland and founded the Grenfell Mission. He was renowned for bringing
medicine and education to the Inuit and poor European settlers along the harsh Labrador Coast. His adventures
were required reading in Eastern Canada, and taught school children how to survive while adrift on an ice pan. The
Grenfell Interpretation Centre interprets the life and times of Dr. Grenfell. Among the displays you will see the old
instruments used for surgery a century ago and artefacts gathered from a life of arctic adventure and global
philanthropy. From battling influenza plagues to socializing with kings and presidents, to avoiding marauding polar
bears, the life of Dr. Grenfell touched the world in many ways.
Twillingate is affectionately known as the “Iceberg Capital of The World” because of the many icebergs that flow past
its shores in early spring and summer. Located on Newfoundland’s Northeast Coast, it was known as “Toulinquet”,
after the French because its appearance was like that of a group of islands near Brest. In the early 1700s, Toulinquet
soon became “Twillingate” to the English Settlers who could not speak or read the French language. This area was
the heart of the Newfoundland seal and cod fisheries into the late 20th century. The town has a population of
approximately 2,600 and became linked to the mainland of Newfoundland by a causeway in 1973. Twillingate offers
many features and attractions that Newfoundland and Labrador outports are famous for: stunning coastline, and
historical and picturesque streets.
St Johns (Newfoundland)
After a leisurely breakfast, bid your fellow travellers, new friends and expedition team a fond farewell before
disembarking in St. John’s. Since 1497, explorers, adventurers, pirates and all manner of seafarers have found their
way into the spectacular harbour of St John’s. A legendary seaport on the edge of the continent with a rich 500-year
seafaring history, St. John's is North America's oldest European-settled city and is the capital of Newfoundland. It is
Canada's youngest province and Britain's oldest overseas colony and a place well worth spending a few days at the
end of your voyage. Wander the colourful Victorian streets with plenty of heritage shops, boutiques, art galleries,
fine restaurants, bistros, and pubs – just steps from dockside.
Transfer to St. John’s airport for return flight to London