Welcome to Aurora’s Wild Landscapes of West Greenland expedition.
Home to the northernmost capital in the world, Nuuk, the west coast of Greenland may be the most inhabited part of the world’s largest island, but you’re unlikely to encounter many people outside of Nuuk. With no road to connect the townships, flying or sea travel are the only options available. The further north we venture along the west coast, the smaller and more isolated the settlements become. We push through the sea ice, calved from the enormous Greenland ice sheet to where few tourists venture, to explore hidden bays glittering with icebergs and where whales may shelter.
Note: On this voyage, we visit remote Inuit hamlets and settlements, where the local Inuit people still practice traditional hunting methods including whaling that some people may find confronting. If you find yourself feeling upset and disturbed by what you see, please alert a member of the expedition team immediately, who will do their best to address your concerns and take action to mitigate the problem, wherever possible.
The Ultimate AdventuresView more
• Stand in awe of Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
• Witness the remarkable geology on Disko Island, featuring some of the oldest geological features on Earth
• In genuine expedition style, we forge as far north as possible along Greenland's west coast, where few travellers venture, and where the night sky may surprise you with a dazzling display you'll never forget
• Discover life in Nuuk, the world's northernmost capital
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Photo by Erez Marom - Visit Greenland
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In the spirit of expedition travel, we encourage you to adopt a flexible and adventurous attitude when joining our voyages. This itinerary is a guide only and is subject to change due to weather, sea state and other conditions beyond our control.
Day 1 Toronto
Having made your way to Toronto, check in at our group hotel located near the airport for an overnight stay. At our welcome briefing this evening, enjoy a drink and meet fellow expeditioners. Please visit the Aurora Expeditions hospitality desk to collect your luggage cabin tags and to speak with our ground operations team, who may have information to share with you about pre-embarkation procedures and also the charter flight to Nuuk tomorrow. You will receive Aurora Expeditions cabin tags for your luggage. Please clearly label the tags with your name and ship cabin number.
Accommodation: Westin Toronto Airport Hotel (or similar)
Day 2 Embarkation, Nuuk
Please ensure that your luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Any valuables or personal items should be kept on you throughout the day. Your luggage will be delivered to your cabin ahead of your arrival on board.
After breakfast at the hotel, board our charter flight to Nuuk, where the Sylvia Earle awaits. After boarding, there is time to settle into your cabin before our important safety briefings. This evening, meet your expedition team and crew.
Day 3 Sisimiut
Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut is located approximately 54 kilometres (33.5 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, meaning that during summer, you can experience the midnight sun here. The town is famous for the old blue church with the gate made of whale bone. In the cosy museum next door to the church, you will find an excellent reconstruction of an Inuit turf house as well as exhibits of local history and early life in Greenland.
Sisimiut offers hiking trails with various degrees of difficulty. The easier trails take you through the town itself, its outskirts and into the mountains, where you will find spectacular vantage points.
Some 4,500 years ago, the Saqqaq culture arrived from Canada and settled in the area. They lived here for approximately 2,000 years, after which they mysteriously disappeared from the area. The Dorset culture arrived around 500 CE and stayed until the 1200s until they were replaced by the Thule culture, and today, most of the population of Sisimiut are descendants of the Thule culture.
Day 4 Qeqertarsuaq (Disko Island)
This compelling island seems to have more in common with Iceland than Greenland. While most of the interior is mountainous and glaciated, its beautiful shorelines boast black sandy beaches, unusual basalt columns, hot springs and dramatic lava formations. We plan to appreciate the colourful flowers on the Kuannit Hike, where you can walk stunning landscapes, see ancient basalt columns and perhaps spot whales in Disko Bay.
Days 5-7 Expedition cruising
Note: In genuine expeditionary style, our itinerary for the following days is heavily dependent on weather conditions and unpredictable sea ice. The following places are some that we hope to visit.
Set on an island of the same name, Uummannaq is located 600 km (373 mi) above the Arctic Circle and is famous for its heart-shaped mountain. It’s also well-known for the Qilakitsoq mummies, Greenland’s oldest, that were discovered in nearby. The centre of town is compact and easy for you to explore independently, and there are several marked hiking trails, many of which lead to mountain lakes, for those who want to stretch their legs. Kayakers can enjoy paddling among the icebergs and keeping watch for whales that frequent the area.
Set amid a labyrinth of small islands, Upernavik is home to traditional settlements and enormous icebergs that Greenland is famous for. Kayakers can paddle in the serene bay among the glittering icebergs while other expeditioners can discover the town on walks or hike in the surrounding area. Upernavik is the world’s northernmost open-air museum. A walk through the old part of town, which encompasses the original colonial buildings, tells the cultural history of the area, including the colonial and Viking periods. Keep a look out for a traditional old kayak and umiaq boat, which highlights the main mode of transport used by locals to navigate the archipelago during summer. The shy and elusive narwhal is also known to visit the area, and at nearby Apparsuit, bird enthusiasts will be thrilled to find one of the world’s largest bird cliffs.
Day 8 At Sea
Find a spot in one of our many observation lounges and enjoy the spectacular surrounding landscapes. Our talented and knowledgeable expedition members will present informative and entertaining talks about the region that you’re travelling through.
Day 9 Qeqertarsuaq, Disko Island
In Qeqertarsuaq, we enjoy a Zodiac excursion in Disko Bay that’s often filled with icebergs and is a hotspot for marine life including humpback, fin, minke and bowhead whales. Enjoy a walk through the settlement, perhaps try some local tea made from fresh local herbs, learn about the history of Qeqertarsuaq at the museum before walking along the black sand beach towards the colourful colonial buildings.
Days 10-11 Ataa Sund, Ilulissat
Known as the ‘birthplace of icebergs’, this region produces some of the most dazzling icebergs found anywhere on earth. We explore ice-filled Ataa Sund and hope to experience a few of the active glaciers from a safe distance. In Ilulissat, we visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Icefjord and stand in awe at its immensity. Sermeq Kujalleq, also known as Jakobshavn Glacier, is the most productive glacier – not only in Greenland but the entire Northern Hemisphere. It produces 20 million tonnes of ice each day, all floating into the Ilulissat Icefjord and Disko Bay..
Ilulissat optional helicopter flight (90 mins): this excursion is the only way you can get close to the gigantic glacier. The 10-seater helicopter departs from Ilulissat Airport sweeping over hills, lakes and ice fjords. On the return flight to Ilulissat, fly above the edge of the glacier with breathtaking views of the massive icebergs drifting in the fjord. The views of some of the largest icebergs that become stranded on a moraine underneath the water, just outside the town, offers a wonderful finale to this excursion. Please note that this excursion requires a minimum of 8 passengers to operate.
Day 12 Aasivissuit- Nipisat UNESCO World Heritage site
We hope to visit a Greenlandic settlement located near the Aasivissuit-Nipisat UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place where the local inhabitants live a traditional fishing and hunting lifestyle that dates back 4,000 years. The settlement also features the remarkable Qaammat Pavilion, built on the ridge at the top overlooking the Ikeertoq fjord. This stunning architecturally designed and award-winning crystal structure was created by Swedish architect, Konstantin Ikonomidis, in cooperation with the local community and the UNESCO team. It is a tribute to nature, the land and cultural traditions of the indigenous Inuit people.
Day 13 Eternity Fjord
Evighedsfjorden, or Eternity Fjord, is one of the more spectacular fjord complexes in west Greenland due to its forested landscape. Hike through a forested valley, witness hills become towering snow-capped mountains as countless glaciers pour down from sheer cliff walls. Occasionally, the thunderous sound of a calving glacier breaks the silence in a place where you are unlikely to see another soul.
Day 14 Disembark in Nuuk, Fly to Toronto
In Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, farewell the crew and expedition team, and transfer to the airport for our charter flight to Toronto for an overnight stay.
Accommodation: Westin Toronto Airport Hotel (or similar)
Day 15 Depart Toronto
After breakfast, check out of your room and continue your journey with a transfer to the airport.
- All transfers mentioned in the itinerary.
- One night’s hotel accommodation including breakfast, in Toronto on Day 1.
- One night’s hotel accommodation including breakfast, in Toronto on Day 14.
- Return charter flight between Toronto and Nuuk.
- On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service.
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage.
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner.
- Captain’s Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages.
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises.
- Educational lectures and guiding services provided by Expedition Team.
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consultation).
- One 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket.
- Complimentary use of Muck Boots during the voyage.
- Comprehensive pre-departure information.
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees.
- International or domestic flights – unless specified in itinerary.
- Transfers – unless specified in itinerary.
- Airport arrival or departure taxes.
- Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination fees and charges.
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges.
- Hotels and meals – unless specified in the itinerary.
- Optional excursions and optional activity surcharges.
- All items of a personal nature, including but not limited to alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), gratuities, laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, wi-fi, email or phone charges.
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
Near shore cruises
Whale and mammal spotting
From USD $830.00/pp
Sea Kayaking One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond. Sea kayaking holidays in the …
One of the most exhilarating ways to experience Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond.
Sea kayaking holidays in the humbling wilderness of Antarctica, the Arctic, and some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, are guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle between brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes, absorbing the majestic scenery as it unfolds before you.
In Antarctica, keep your camera on-hand for unforgettable encounters with penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, prepare to paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large iceberg.
Led by experienced guides, you and your small group of like-minded adventurers will paddle between ice floes, brash ice and icebergs of all shapes and sizes. Paddling is one of the best ways to access and intimately explore the beautiful coastlines we visit and therefore make the most of your time in the wild and remote destinations we visit.
‘Getting out amongst it’ is our philosophy, and that is exactly what we do. Weather permitting, the sea kayaking activity is normally available anytime the other expeditioners go out. Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to ensure you see as much as possible. We paddle between 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 4 hours) per outing, often taking a snack and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy on our excursion.
Each small group of kayakers (up to 10 per guide) will have their own intimate exploration of the small hidden bays and coasts that are inaccessible to Zodiacs. Of course, we also make time for your own shore excursions and wildlife encounters.
The elements play an important role in our sea kayaking program. It is important that you have an adventurous attitude and understand that the weather can impact our kayaking time.
What about beginners up to the challenge?Our guides do not offer instructional classes for beginners. Therefore, the sea kayaking option is unsuitable for complete novices. However, there is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. We may be able to recommend a reputable sea kayak operator in your area for some tuition prior to the trip. Your guide will assess your ability on the initial paddle, and if you have insufficient experience, he or she reserves the right to restrict your participation in rougher conditions.
You should be fit enough to paddle for up to three hours and climb between moving Zodiacs on the water. Regular exercise is recommended, because the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the experience. The more paddles you can do before the trip, the better. We recommend at least three outings prior to your voyage.
During summer the air temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula, Greenland and Spitsbergen are generally above freezing but can range from -4°C to +5°C / 24.8°F to 41°F. The water temperature in the polar regions is close to freezing and winds sweep off the glaciers, making paddling a chilling experience. In South Georgia, there are stronger winds and swells than in Antarctica. Scotland, Iceland, Norwegian coasts are warmer with water temperatures of around 12 °C/ 53.6°F.
The northern waters are warmer than the polar regions but water temperatures of around 12 °C/ 53.6°F mean you may opt to wear your paddle jacket on a warm, sunny day or our dry suits on a cool day. Surf landings are not likely, but you must be capable of paddling in a small swell or wind chop, with winds up to 20 knots. With that being said, we will not paddle if wind conditions are too strong and there is no sheltered area for paddling.
In Costa Rica and Panama, April is the end of the dry season. The shoulder season begins in May, bringing increased humidity. Afternoon rain showers are possible in May with temperatures ranging from 26-36 °C (80- 96 °F). Winds are generally light at this time of year. The water temperature ranges from 27 -29 °C. Surf landings are not likely, but be prepared to paddle in a small swell or wind chop, with winds up to 15 knots. Again, we will not paddle if wind conditions are too strong and there is no sheltered area for paddling.
The Sea Kayaking activity is available for an additional surcharge and includes guided excursions and kayaking equipment. Fares for this activity start from US$900, AU$1,250, £460 or €550.
Prices are indicative only and are variable. They are calculated based on the days of voyage, ability to carry out the activity and exchange rates.
Top reasons to choose a Sea Kayaking holiday
See wildlife unobtrusively
Kayaking is one of the best ways to spot rare wildlife, from penguins to puffins.
Access intimate bays and coves that bigger crafts can't reach.
Our experienced sea kayak guides will help bring your chosen destination to life.
Become an expert
Hone your kayaking skills and gain a hobby for life!
Become lifelong friends with your small group of like-minded adventurers.
Stay fit on your holiday
Being active every day on your holiday means you don't have to feel guilty about being spoilt by our expert chefs!
Enhance your experience
Add another layer to your once-in-a-lifetime holiday and make the most out of your time in some of the most remote places on earth.
Have the time of your life exploring some of the wildest places on earth from the water.
Our guide to paddler ratio is 1:10 and we provide an accompanying safety Zodiac. There are 26 places available in Antarctica and tropical voyages, 20 in temperate regions, South Georgia and all Arctic trips except in Franz Josef Land where the maximum is 16 kayakers.
Kayakers must be 14 or over.
Sea kayaking is offered in place of regular shore excursions. We aim to paddle as often as possible. Depending on the voyage, we generally aim to paddle twice per day.
We will give you a drybag for extra clothing, binoculars and anything that needs to be kept dry. You should also carry a water bottle. We recommend bringing a waterproof camera or phone, or ensuring you have a good quality waterproof case.
If the weather changes during our outing we will head back to the ship and perhaps join a shore excursion. The ship’s captain, expedition leader and kayak guide always maintain close contact to ensure a safe paddling experience. We do not attempt to paddle too far away from the ship. The emphasis is on experiencing the destination rather than travelling long distances.
The kayaks are made with a hard plastic and are easily paddled in swell and conducting shore landings, and through small patches of brash ice. We manoeuvre around the larger ice chunks and floes.
Kayaking in the poles offers a unique wildlife viewing experience. In Antarctica, we have many opportunities to encounter penguins, seals and whales, and occasionally we may even spot leopard seals or orcas. In the Arctic, we’ll paddle under nesting bird colonies, past massive glaciers and around large icebergs, however we maintain a safe distance from polar bears and walruses. Our guides carry rifles and flare guns in the Arctic to ensure your safety against polar bears.
Kayakers in wild temperate regions will have a unique wildlife experience, with possible encounters with seals and basking sharks. You will have the opportunity to view some of the largest sea bird colonies in the northern hemisphere.
The superb wildlife-viewing opportunities are endless in the astonishingly biodiverse nature reserves we visit. Kayaks offer a unique opportunity to view marine and land mammals, coral reefs, tropical fish, sea birds and an astonishing range of rainforest birds. We will bring our snorkelling gear with us during our paddles and take advantage of any opportunities to view marine life up close.
In the unlikely event of a capsize, your experienced guide will assist by righting the kayak, stabilising it then pumping it out. Paddlers will re-enter with the guide’s help, or with a support Zodiac. With drysuits and warm clothing underneath you will be comfortable in cold water for up to half an hour. Note that the kayaks have separate compartments with bulkheads, which means they will float after a capsize.
No. Each kayaking place is for one person only. Passengers are unable to share a kayaking place as we customise the kayaks and dry suits for each individual kayaker at the beginning of each voyage.
Cabins & Prices
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Want to book flights and accommodation with us or simply want some additional information? Click the button below and fill out the form, our expedition experts are more than happy to help.
*Terms & Conditions apply. Valid on select ship voyages only. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle which must be booked and deposited by May 31, 2023. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with the back to back voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The promotion can be withdrawn at any time and is not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of $2,500 pp in the booking currency is required within 7 days of reserved berth/s. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Please see full terms and conditions.
^Terms & Conditions apply. Additional 5% discount valid on both voyages but two voyages must connect back to back in terms of dates to be eligible. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle. Promotions are subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with early bird voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The offer can be withdrawn at any time and are not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. Please see full terms and conditions.