Greenland – a world of adventure

By Helen Hayes 1 November 2023
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Venture beyond the norm to a place that is majestic, isolated, wild and exhilarating … Greenland is waiting.

This article is brought to you by Quark Expeditions.

The Oxford Dictionary says the definition of adventure is ‘an unusual and exciting or daring experience’. Greenland is all of that and more.

An autonomous part of Denmark, Greenland (Kalaallit Nunaat) is vast. Unbounded. Monumental. It is also empty, when it comes to humans, but crowded with wildlife. The figures speak for themselves. Greenland spreads out over 2,166,000 square km and has a population of just 56,171. Nature definitely rules in Greenland and for the curious traveller, wanting to see more, do more, and go beyond the norm, staring at the rugged wilderness will fill you with a sense of wonder and awe.

The world’s largest island, two thirds of Greenland sits above the Arctic Circle and the best way to explore its many breathtakingly beautiful landscapes is with Quark Expeditions. Experience definitely pays in The Arctic, and Quark Expeditions have been leaders in Greenland since 2000. It is this superior knowledge on how to make the most of a Greenland adventure that will make your journey even more exciting and memorable.

Greenland the great

For the traveller with a hunger for adventure far from the madding crowd, Greenland is gloriously away from it all. From its majestic landscapes that showcase mother nature at her most creative (glistening fjords, colossal shimmering ice sheets, soldier-straight cliffs, and the dancing Northern Lights), to the fascinating culture and communities that have been living in this harsh and sometimes inhospitable place, Greenland pulls on the heartstrings with its raw, overwhelming beauty.

Imagine standing in a world of white seeing the Greenland Ice Sheet up close. It is the second-largest ice mass on the planet and will leave you totally enchanted and wondering if your eyes are playing tricks on you with its sheer size and ethereal light. Then there are the other icy wonders. The towering blue-hued icebergs that are sculptured masterpieces with light refracting as if created by a mad scientist just for your enjoyment, the alpine glaciers that slice through the peaks up high and fjords like Scoresby Sund, which is the largest in the world at around 110 km long at a depth of 1,450 metres in some places. Scoresby Sund is home to polar bears, seals, narwhals, muskoxen – Greenland has 40 per cent of the world’s muskoxen – clouds of geese and seabirds, and was where the ancient Thule people, ancestors of the Inuit, lived until around 1800.

Getting up close to these unbridled, untamed landscapes of Greenland and The Arctic is part of the Quark Expeditions DNA. The expedition team, the most experienced in the business, team up with local partners so guests can witness 2,000-metre-high rock faces, sheer-walled fjords, and rock formations that are more art than landscape. They put you in the landscape, rather than just looking at it from afar. For instance, in Ella Oya (Ella Island) in Northeast Greenland National Park, go for a hike with a local company and marvel at the drama of the sheer cliffs dwarfing everything around them. Go kayaking (which was invented in Greenland) paddling or Zodiac cruising in idyllic places like Equip Sermia or Torsukatak Fjords in Disko Bay, or visit the community of Illulissat, where you can go hiking in an outlet fjord for Sermeq Kujalleq (Jakobshavn Glacier) – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Greenland locals are the epitome of people who love the great outdoors and they totally embrace this ruggedness. It is a perfect combination, as Quark’s expedition guides are the elitist of the elite, trained at the highly-respected Quark Academy. You will not find a better way of experiencing this enigmatic, rugged country.

Greenland is not all rock and ice, however. A Quark Expeditions voyage in Greenland will open you up to the people, the culture and their history on beautifully-curated itineraries. In a single Greenland voyage, visitors can meander around Viking historical sites and Norse ruins that turn the clock back centuries. Kujataa historical site is one such location, home to ruins and artifacts that showcase the remains of Norse and Inuit farms on the edge of the ice cap. See the remains of Inuit farmhouses as well as archeological sites from ancient Norse settlements.

Uummannaq is a tiny island in North Greenland and is home to around 1,200 Inuit, and is one of the few places where the Inuit still follow a traditional hunting and fishing lifestyle.

You will also see what the locals are like in the modern-day, through cultural festivals, visits to communities and tasting local cuisine. Visit places like Ittoqqortoormiit – the most isolated town in Greenland. Located close to Greenland National Park, Ittoqqortoormiit was founded in 1925 and meeting the locals and seeing how they live in this most remote of places, is fascinating. You can even go dogsledding to soak up the pristine environment.

Looking up is par for the course in Greenland, with many people attracted by the Northern Lights that shimmer and shapeshift in the sky in an ethereal light show of greens and purples and reds and pinks. Not to be outdone, the beauty of light on icebergs, in sunrises and sunsets, shadow and sun, is completely, utterly mesmerising.

The Quark Expeditions choice

Choosing Quark Expeditions for your Greenland adventure is the smart choice. It means you will be travelling with the best team, renowned for their expertise garnered over three decades in the polar regions. It also means you can benefit from more Greenland departures than any other operator. The time spent in this part of the world has allowed Quark Expeditions to foster long-standing relationships with local Greenlandic Inuit partners. This deep-seated trust means Quark Expeditions guests can experience one-of-a-kind itineraries that are exclusive to the company.

Exploring on the game-changing ship, Ultramarine, allows guests to witness the fjords and landscapes of wild Greenland in ways that no other operators can. This modern wonder has two twin-engine helicopters that open up a plethora of experiences such as flightseeing, kayaking, mountain biking and even camping, as well as an authentic Inuit dining experience.

The newest ship in the Quark Expeditions fleet, the Ultramarine. Image credit: Quark Expeditions

Ultramarine is the newest ship in the fleet and is designed to venture beyond the norm in polar exploration. It can go places others cannot, immersing guests in the delights of this wild, remote part of the world. Ultramarine can carry 199 guests who are supported by 140 crew. She is 120 metres long and with the striking yellow ‘Q’ on her sides, stands out from the crowd. Scenery and wildlife viewing is easy from the wraparound deck on deck five, and when the time comes to get off the ship to go adventuring, which is often and sometimes spontaneous, guests can quickly change into expedition gear in the ready room, then the internal Zodiac hangar can get guests off quickly and safely in 20 Zodiacs. It takes half the time it would on other ships.

Zodiac cruising in Ilulissat, Greenland; guests and guides onboard; a guest admiring the unforgettable scenery of Greenland. Image credits: Sam Edmunds

Creature comforts are front and centre on Ultramarine. She boasts the Tundra Spa, Tundra Sauna and fully equipped fitness centre, enabling guests to work out should they wish to, or equally, be pampered after a day in the elements.

Relax with a drink in the Panorama Bar and Lounge, dine indoors or out in Bistro 487, or choose an intimate dinner in Balena Restaurant with tables seating from two to 10.

Rethink your bucket list, ignite your sense of adventure, and start planning your Greenland voyage with Quark Expeditions… the leader in polar adventures.

This article is brought to you by Quark Expeditions.