• WorldView
  • 3 Min Read
  • 23 Jun 2022

7 Spectacular Fjords to Explore on Expedition

With their sheer cliffs and water-filled valleys, fjords are a stunning reminder of the transformative power of ice. These sea passages slice through coastlines in and around the planet’s polar regions, revealing a map of the places glaciers once grew. Though united in their geology, the fjords of the world are surprisingly varied: some provide safe harbor to snug fishing villages, while other, less hospitable channels are choked with active glacial ice year-round. Get Inspired By Photos, Videos, Webinars, Stories, And Exclusive Offers. Sign Up

Whatever the backdrop, sailing a fjord is a thrilling journey through millions of years of geological change. From the granite cathedrals of Chilean Patagonia to the sloping coastal forests of Alaska, here are seven places where you can experience the majesty of a fjord directly from the deck of a Lindblad-National Geographic ship.

Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska

The backwaters of Misty Fjords National Monument wind their way through the world’s largest temperate rainforest: 2.3 million acres of cedar, Sitka spruce, and hemlock that make up the greater Tongass National Forest. The wildlife attracted to this remote and roadless place may steal your attention from the stunning scenery, despite the sapphire waters and 2,000-foot cliffs. Saiing through the fjords offers the possiblity to spot orca spyhopping, brown bears fishing along the shoreline, or porpoises playing in the wake of our ship. The Lindblad-National Geographic  fleet has special permission to explore here, so practice using your camera zoom and don’t forget your binoculars.


Photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins

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Hardangerfjord, Norway

The Norwegian coastline is so prominently carved with deep and narrow glacial inlets that the Norse gave them—and subsequently the world—their geological name. In this country of more than 1,000 fjords, the 111-mile long Hardangerfjord is second in length only to Norway's Sognefjord—but it’s no less scenic. Set off on a kayak or Zodiac in this fjord region locally known as the “kingdom of waterfalls” and glide beneath cliffside cascades that continue the rock sculpting started by glaciers millions of years ago. Or, explore emerald shorelines on foot for a closer look at colorful hamlets and fruit orchards filled with pear, plum, and apple trees.

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Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland

Travelers might receive a ceremonial greeting at the majestic Ilulissat Icefjord, where regular cannon-like blasts signal the calving of Sermeq Kujalleq, the world’s fastest moving glacier. The icebergs generated here can soar up to 300 feet above the water’s surface, some so big they resemble floating cities of snow complete with carved archways. Our state-of-the-art polar ships take you to Disko Bay, where the glacier’s tongue meets the mouth of the fjord. Trails along the shoreline lead to a rocky promontory that allows for views over the Greenland icecap, the northern hemisphere’s final fragment of ice sheet from the last Quaternary Ice Age.


Photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins

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Chilean Fjords, Patagonia

In the southernmost reaches of South America, the Chilean Fjords form a massive maze of soaring granite still shaped by active glaciers. Not every vessel is nimble enough to ply these waters, but the small ships in our fleet deftly navigate narrow channels to take travelers to the innermost corridors of this geological labyrinth. Witness the ice at work in Glacier Alley, where five tidewater glaciers calve iridescent chunks into the mirrored water. Looming views of ice-capped volcanoes and subpolar forests frame these rugged fjord lands at the ends of the Earth, adding to the indescribable scenery.

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Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

The ice that calves off South Sawyer Glacier takes its time floating through the serene waters of Tracy Arm, giving travelers plenty of opportunities for close-up views. On our Alaska expeditions, we make the most of Mother Nature’s extended show. In addition to cruising up to the glacier’s terminus in our expedition ships, we invite guests to board either Zodiacs or kayaks and drift alongside the slow-moving ice sculptures. Icebergs aren’t the only wonders in these aquamarine waters though: they’re also home to orcas, humpback whales, and harbor seals, which can often be spotted hauled-out on the floes.


Photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins

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Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

In a country known for fantastical scenery, Fiordland National Park—showcasing 14 fiords—still stands out as one of New Zealand’s most picturesque places. Milford Sound’s spectacular layered backdrop of forested and snowcapped mountains even inspired English author Rudyard Kipling to declare it the “eighth wonder of the world.” Depending on the voyage, our ships may sail Milford’s turquoise channel, plus Doubtful and Dusky Sounds—two fiords that are only accessible by water. If you can pry your eyes away from the majestic mountains, you may be rewarded with a glimpse of a whale, dolphin, or fur seal.


Photo: Nick Rains

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Kangerlussuaq Fjord, Greenland

On an island where more than 80 percent of the land is blanketed in thick ice, few channels cut deeper into Greenland’s frosty interior than Kangerlussuaq. In Greenlandic, Kangerlussuaq means “longest fjord,” and we sail the entire length of this 120-mile-long waterway, beginning at its interior terminus and all the way out to sea. Board our ship in the tiny village of Kangerlussuaq, a mere scatter of candy-colored houses, and watch as rolling inland hills rise into craggy coastal peaks—a transition that depicts the reverse geological pattern of most of the planet’s fjords.


Photo: Michael S. Nolan

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