Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Eternity Fjord, Greenland

    Today was a day of true exploration, as the National Geographic Explorer navigated its way through Eternity Fjord, a place the ship nor staff had ever been. We took advantage of the numerous glaciers and mountainous landscapes to spend the afternoon hiking and kayaking under Greenland’s impressive peaks. Scrambling over rocks and sand, most hikers even made it to the foot of a nearby glacier, and took a moment to peer inside the brilliant blue crevasse and listen to its interior rushing streams. After dinner we took to the Zodiacs to maneuver through bergy bits and up to the face of a large tidewater glacier. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for our final day of exploration in Greenland! 

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  • Ilulissat, Greenland

    Ten percent of the ice cast off of the Greenland Ice sheet comes from the Jacobshavn Glacier, 75 km’s east of Ilulissat at the head to Isfjord (Icefjord).  If there’s a “hot” spot for tourism in Greenland, Ilulissat would hold that title, and it’s the impressive accumulation of seriously massive icebergs at the entrance to this fjord that put Ilulissat in the spotlight.  So much so that the fjord, and the tundra draped glacial landscape around it, has been established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Truly only unique cultural and natural sights achieve this designation.  Well, today would be dedicated to ice and the story it’s told on the land that surrounds it.  Presently, as it has in the past, Ilulissat is one of Greenland’s busiest fishing ports and still thrives today in that vain.

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  • Sisimiut, Greenland

    Today we began our Greenland-based part of the expedition, disembarking the National Geographic Explorer onto the dock of the Sisimiut community. Cloaked in fog, rain, and heavy winds the city was still bustling with life and there were plenty of activities waiting for guests within the city. Morning excursions included a natural history hike to Tele Island, city walks, a photo walk, and a bus tour. 

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  • Ataneq Fjord, Greenland

    Today was a day of true exploration, as the National Geographic Explorer navigated its way through Ataneq Fjord, a place the ship had never been. Our fearless expedition leader scouted ahead of the ship looking for a suitable place to land while the sounding Zodiac scouted the waters to ensure the ship could safely navigate the fjord. 

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  • Ilulissat, Greenland

    In the early morning Captain Leif Skog gently maneuvered the National Geographic Explorer into the narrow harbor of Ilulissat (previously called Jakobshavn). This is the third largest settlement in Greenland, located slightly above 69° N in Disko Bay. The huge icebergs in the fjord and outside of Ilulissat are pushed by constant glacial activity at the edge of the Greenland ice sheet. The Ilulissat glacier alone provides approximately 10 percent of all the ice released from this enormous ice sheet. The massive amount of ice and the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Sermermiut just outside of town has made Ilulissat the most popular tourist destination in Greenland. Many of the guests went by foot or shuttle bus to access Sermermiut. A city walk and a sightseeing tour on a local boat to the outer part of the Ice Fjord were also popular options. Calm weather and blue skies provided a perfect setting for a most memorable day of exploration in Ilulissat and the surrounding fjord area.

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  • Sisimiut, Greenland

    Sisimiut, which means “the inhabitants at the fox holes” in Greenlandic Inuit language, lies just north of the Arctic Circle. It is the country’s northern-most ice-free port in the winter, but is also the country’s southern-most town where dog sleds are used during winter and spring. The town was founded as a mission and trading station in 1756 and was originally named Holsteinsborg. Many of the early buildings still stand in what is known as the Old Quarter, part of which is now included in an outstanding museum complex (photo A). This museum contains the second oldest church in Greenland – built in 1775, a very cozy sod and stone house, a blacksmithy and various other buildings and objects, such as drying racks, an umiak (a large, open seal skin boat), and dog sleds. Today, Sisimiut is Greenland’s second largest municipality with more than 6,000 inhabitants.

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  • Lerwick, Shetland

    It was another early start but well worth it. A clear sparkling morning greeted us as we emerged on deck, tied up alongside in Lerwick Harbour, Shetland. The rain and grey misty seas of the previous evening had blown away and we were treated to blue skies and benign seas. Truly the weather has been kind to us on this trip!

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  • Kangaamiut, Greenland

    Today we awoke with a certain sadness as it was to be our last full day on our Epic 80°N journey aboard the National Geographic Explorer. But our melancholy wasn’t to linger long as more adventures lay before us. Originally we had planned to spend the morning cruising the coast of Greenland, but as was often the case with this expedition, we changed our plans when new opportunities arose.  Instead we decided to visit Kangaamiut, a small fishing village south of Kangerlussuaq. Like so many other towns on the west coast of Greenland, Kangaamiut was delightfully picturesque. Quaint houses of red, blue, green and yellow were perched above a narrow harbor where fishing boats swung on their mooring buoys. The weather was incredible so we took the opportunity to walk about town as we pleased, stopping here and there to enjoy a view, or to admire the beautiful gardens, or simply to say hello to the friendly Greenlanders who call this town home. Those who engaged with the locals learned that the hunting season had just begun, which meant there would soon be fresh reindeer and muskox on the table. Skins and antlers from these animals adorned many of the homes. Several guests climbed the long stairs that alternated with steep bare rock to a hilltop overlooking the fjord and coastal waters. The view from there was spectacular and well worth the effort.    

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  • Ilulissat, Greenland

    The National Geographic Explorer sailed south overnight, arriving at the Ilulissat Icefjord World Heritage Site as breakfast was served. True to its name, we found the entry to the harbor blocked with icebergs large and small. Other vessels had turned away, and our local agent felt fairly certain we too would be unable to land. But our resourceful crew used Zodiacs to nose chunks of ice bigger than trucks out of the way, and the captain was able to expertly ease the ship up to the dock.

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  • Day at sea towards the Orkney Islands

    Today was almost a full day at sea and therefore the perfect oppertunity to relax and catch up on sleep, some readying or listen to a lecture or two! As per usual there was a full schedule of exciting lectures. Our photo instructor Ryder kicked off the day by teaching us some iPhone photography tricks and nauralist Conor followed with a talk on whaling in the Nortdic Seas. In the afternoon archeologiest Ailsa gave us an insight to the prehistory of Orkney and Shetland which was a great preperation for our next two days.

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