Quark Expeditions’ newest Greenland voyage is in a league of its own

By Jennifer Ennion 6 March 2023
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Be whisked away to the one of the most remote and striking destinations in the world, South Greenland, on a Quark Expeditions voyage unlike any other.

The new Greenland Explorer: Sail and Soar the Alpine Arctic is a journey of a lifetime aboard the impressive Ultramarine, a vessel equipped with two helicopters that can take you further into the depths of Greenland’s magnificent landscape. With sailing from 2024, passengers will venture to areas inaccessible to other travellers, thanks to Quark Expeditions offering the largest choice of helicopter activities in the country. This is expedition travel at its best.

The 11-day polar voyage is the most innovative itinerary in Quark Expeditions’ 32-year history. It begins in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, where you can explore the city’s colourful art galleries, great coffee houses and famous hot springs. Then the adventure really begins, as you travel via private charter flight to Greenland to set sail aboard the Ultramarine, one of the most advanced passenger ships cruising the seas. On the days that follow, you will soar over jagged mountains, take advantage of exclusive helicopter landings, and make authentic connections with local Indigenous peoples. The latter is one of the reasons this expedition is unique; it was developed in complete collaboration with Greenlanders.

On the uninhabited east coast, expect to be engrossed by tales of Inuit hunters who survived off the land and sea at Lindenow Fjord (Kangerlussuatsiaq) before the arrival of European explorers. At the Kujataa UNESCO World Heritage site, you will learn of the similarities between Inuit and Viking culture, while at Aappilattoq, your understanding of these friendly locals will deepen as you enjoy traditional music and food. A few of the residents may even call you to the field for the most memorable game of soccer you’ll likely ever have.

When you’re not learning about Greenland’s fascinating culture, you will be flying over fjords, lacing up your hiking boots, kayaking glassy waters with new intrepid friends and admiring icebergs from aboard a Zodiac. If you want to step it up a notch, you can sign up to optional activities such as heli-hiking (where a helicopter drops you at your starting point) and camping with locals on the 70km Tasermiut Fjord, in the heart of what’s been dubbed “Arctic Patagonia”. Thousands of kilometres from home, you will fall asleep to the sound of ice carving off Sermeq Glacier, said to be one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world.

The two twin-engine helicopters and sophistication of the Ultramarine take this polar voyage to the next level. They mean that off-ship excursions are as exclusive as they get, rare sightings of polar bears are possible and you could even be enjoying breakfast while watching humpback whales feast in nutrient-rich fjords. When darkness descends, night-caps are enjoyed under the dancing lights of the Aurora borealis and you’ll find it hard to drag yourself back inside. As for the ship itself, it has more outdoor wildlife viewing spaces than other expedition vessels of the same size, as well as the most spacious suites in its category. The use of two choppers means more passengers can simultaneously enjoy new destinations accessible only by air, and the itinerary overall can have a bigger focus on birds-eye-view experiences.

There is no doubt you will need an adventurous spirit to make the most of this journey, but don’t be fooled into thinking you also need a gym membership; Greenland Explorer caters to travellers of all fitness levels. If you would prefer to capture the beauty of South Greenland from behind your DSLR or from the comfort of the ship, you can do just that. The itinerary even includes a special on-ship extra, the Tundra to Table: Inuit Culinary Experience. Sign up and you’ll have the privilege of tasting dishes from across Greenland, as well as Nunavut, Canada, created by talented local Inuit chefs. Quark Expeditions is the only polar tourism operator to offer such a sophisticated collaboration with Inuit chefs. The experience focuses on the purest of ingredients, such as freshly caught Arctic seafood and free-roaming game. Ever wondered what honey-glazed ptarmigan tastes like?

As tantalising as the on-ship experiences are, as your expedition nears its end, you’ll want to soak up every opportunity to embed this extraordinary landscape into your mind. Travel through surprisingly fertile farmlands that date back to Viking days before setting foot on the largest mass of ice in the Northern Hemisphere – the Greenland Ice Sheet. Stretching from the polar plateau to the sea, this incredible formation will capture your attention for the following two days as you hike nearby foothills and paddle around its shores as part of the most in-depth community experience offered on a Quark Expeditions journey. And that’s just one of the highlights on this trailblazing voyage.

This article is brought to you by Quark Expeditions.