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At Sea towards Nuuk, West Greenland VIDEO

In a land renowned for violent weather and unpredictable seas we awoke to conditions wholly outside our expectations. Following a calm passage from Iceland to Greenland’s southern coast, our assumption was that our lucky weather window was over – only to be humbled yet again by more calm seas and perfect visibility today.   Dotting the horizon, like a string of distant pearls, our northbound transit towards Nuuk, Greenland’s capital and largest city, was to be in the presence of icebergs. Read More>

Aug 3, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Hvalsey & Qaqortoq, Greenland

We have flown over this land and gazed upon the massive streams of ice pouring from its crest. We have cruised its edges and danced between icebergs and bergy-bits spawned from glacial faces. Today, we set foot upon its shores and discovered that Greenland’s palette is bursting with brilliant colors.  Gaze upon a scene and utter the first word that pops to mind. Read More>

Aug 2, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Prins Christian Sund, Southern Greenland

After an amazingly calm crossing of the Denmark Strait from Iceland, today Greenland came into to view as National Geographic Explorer came out of the fog. The first icebergs of the voyage could be seen strung along the mountainous coast of the world’s largest island.  In his opening remarks, Caption Leif Skog emphasized that one of the hallmarks of a true expedition is uncertainty. Read More>

Aug 1, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

The Denmark Strait

Our sea conditions today were, well, somewhat unexpected as we crossed the infamous Denmark Strait. We have been here before and have encountered very different circumstances in the past.  Now, we’ve had beautiful clear blue skies, calm seas, and warm sunshine. In fact, during part of the day we enjoyed glass-like surface conditions. It was fun seeing people out on deck wearing short-sleeved shirts and worrying about sunburn. Someone asked, “Did we make a wrong turn last night?  Is this the Caribbean?” However, we knew we were probably in the right place, because the sun rose this morning at 04:00 AM and didn’t set until after 10:00 PM.  This was a good day to start our lecture program. Read More>

Jul 31, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Latrabjarg Cliffs and Flatey, Breidafjord, Iceland

Overnight, National Geographic Explorer headed northwards from Reykjavik to Breidafjordur, Iceland’s second largest bay. Thousands of small islands and skerries pepper its waters. To these shores the Norse came in the 9th and 10th centuries attracted by the rich food sources that were found here, including fish, seals, whales, seabirds and their eggs. What a splendid vista presented itself at 8:00 a. Read More>

Jul 30, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Heimaey & Surtsey Vestmannaeyar, Iceland

We spent the morning at sea, making our way toward Vestmannaeyar, an archipelago of 15 small islands lying off the southwestern coast of Iceland. Named after slaves taken from the British Isles by the Vikings, the main island Heimaey has been inhabited since the 10th century. Tim Severin, our Global Perspectives guest speaker, captivated us with the second part of the account of his voyage across the North Atlantic from Iceland to Newfoundland in a small skin-hulled boat, following in the fabled wake of the Irish saint known as St. Brendan the Navigator. Shortly before lunch the small island of Surtsey was spotted. Read More>

Jul 28, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Vatnajökull National Park, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

A heavy, grey ceiling welcomed us to Djupivogur this morning, our jumping off point for a full day in the field. With over 90 miles of Icelandic countryside before us and the edge of the Vatnajökull icecap, we had some time for the anticipation to build. Driving through lush green fields peppered with Icelandic ponies, past slate grey rivers discharging their heavy burdens into the sea and towards the emerging mountains to the south, the skies continued to improve and instill confidence that our trip’s weather luck had not run out.   Sure enough, as we turned onto the winding dirt road leading up to Skálafellsjokull (a tributary of the mighty Vatnajökull) we slowly emerged out of the shroud and were greeted with blue skies and distant mountains floating above the whiteness below. Read More>

Jul 27, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Langanes

Remote Langanes, Iceland’s “long peninsula,” stabs northeastward in cold Icelandic waters toward the Norwegian Sea. This morning we cruise along the north shore of Langanes, looking for a safe Zodiac landing on the rocky shore. Rounding Fontur headland and lighthouse, we turn southwest toward Skálar and the ruins of a tiny fishing village. Residents abandoned this harsh and isolated region more than 50 years ago and only a few sheep graze here during the long Arctic days. The beach is too rocky for a landing, but Zodiac cruising is just right along these precipitous cliffs of layered basalt flows. We follow the coastline and find a weather-beaten shore with boulders rounded by the crashing surf that eats away at the Iceland coast. Read More>

Jul 26, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Myvatn, Husavik, Grimsey Island, Iceland VIDEO

“I feel emotional landscapes.” Bjork “Joga” Homogenic After several days exploring sights close to the sea, we spent much of today further inland. Read More>

Jul 25, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

Siglufjörður and Akureyri

We woke up to a wonderful morning in Siglufjörður, the town that used to be called “the herring capital of the North Atlantic.” It earned its reputation in the early 20th century when Norwegians and Icelanders started to catch the herring off the north coast of Iceland, sometimes in enormous quantities. Salting stations sprang up like mushrooms, the stinking smoke from the fish meal factories lay over the bay, people streamed to town in summer, the main fishing season, to earn money fast – lots of it. Siglufjörður became Iceland’s equivalent of Klondyke. And then, in the late 60s, the herring suddenly disappeared, mainly due to overfishing. The adventure was over.  Our activities started when Aníta, curator of the famous Herring Museum, came on board to give us a briefing about what would be awaiting us in town. Read More>

Jul 24, 2014 National Geographic Explorer in Arctic

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