An imprssive ice structure in Greenland Focus On: Northeast Greenland National Park & Scoresby Sund

A huge welcome to professional wildlife and landscape photographer, Dave Wilson of Northwinds Photography ( Dave specialises in US National Parks, Botswana, and the polar regions.  Here are some of Dave’s fascinating images and thoughts about NorthEast Greenland after a recent trip to the area.

Northeast Greenland National Park, covering almost one million square kilometres is the world’s largest National Park.  Due to the relative inaccessibility and vast size, however, this is not a National Park in the normally accepted sense. Travelling there involves either significant advance planning or, more normally, joining one of the ship-based expeditions that visit the more accessible areas at the southern end of the Park: Kejser Franz Joseph and Kong Oscar Fjords, along with the neighbouring Scoresby Sund.

What awaits the visitor, however, is an area of amazing beauty: enormous icebergs; other-worldly geological features; and an overall sense of the wonders of natural wilderness with little to no signs of human intervention.

When To Go

The northerly location (between 71ºN and 75ºN) restricts most trips to the summer months, with the majority of vessels reaching the park between July and early September.  This does mean extremely long days.  The sun doesn’t set until the end of July / early August (depending on how far north you are) and you can still expect 16 hours of daylight at the end of August in the southern end of the region.  Even then, don’t expect warm weather – highs in the single digit Celsius are about as good as it gets – so pack with plenty of layers, not forgetting head and hand coverings.  When the wind picks up (especially when on deck of a ship), the effective temperature can get to well below freezing.

Highlight Areas

Your itinerary will be determined by the guides on the ship and impacted by sea-ice and weather conditions, so planning on visiting specific areas is something you should expect to be flexible about.  The more time your ship has put aside for the area, the better, as there are amazing sights around every corner.  The sheer scale of the three fjords is difficult to appreciate until it is experienced.   Relocating from one landing site to another can often mean 30-40 km of cruising.  Here are eight highlight areas you may encounter.

Walterhausen Glacier, Kejser Franz Joseph Fjord

If you want to get a quick object lesson in the size of the landscape and its features in this part of the world, Walterhausen Glacier is a good place to start.  The calving glacier has a 10km wide front with the face often reaching up to 50m high. A cruise along the front of the glacier brings home its vast size that can still be appreciated  from a distance of some 6 nautical miles.

copyright north winds photography

Blomsterbugt / Ymer Island / Teufelschloss

Spectacular scenery abounds in this area, dominated by the sheer polychromatic cliffs of the Teufelschloss (the Devil’s Castle) which rises 1370m above sea level.

Blomsterbugt / Ymer Island / Teufelschloss copyright north winds photography

It is also a good place to see some of the local wildlife, being a frequent hang-out area for Musk Oxen.

Musk Oxen in Greenland - copyright north winds photography

Kjerulf Fjord & Nordenskjold Glacier

Iceberg in Greenland - copyright north winds photographyRarely visited, Kjerulf Fjord offers a refuge for icebergs that have calved from the Nordenskjold Glacier.  Being quite sheltered, this provides an excellent opportunity for a Zodiac cruise among the icebergs, giving a magnificent close-up perspective of these beautiful structures.


The contrast between the icebergs and the metamorphic rocks of the surrounding cliffs is particularly striking.Iceberg in Greenland - copyright north winds photography


Maria & Ella Islands

A boat in greenland = copyright north winds photographyThese islands form a small archipelago at the intersection of the Antarctic Sound, Kempe Fjord and Kong Oscar Fjord.  Visible on Maria Island are the remains of German fuel drums from WWII as well as building materials from the various geological camps that have been situated in the area.

Ella Island is home base to the Danish Army’s Sirius Patrol whose responsibility it is to patrol the east coast of Greenland throughout the year.  Despite the remoteness of the location, this is an extremely prestigious and sought-after assignment.  The area is ideal for hiking and is particularly noteworthy for its striking geological formations.

Rainbow - copyright north winds photography


copyright north winds photographyThe fjord is so-named because it forms the western boundary of the Stauning Alps, a 40x40km cluster of some of the highest mountains in East Greenland.  It is home to the combined fronts of the Gully and Selfstrom glaciers.

Also in the fjord is the Dammen, a lake that had risen 60m above sea level caused by the glaciers running into the opposing cliffs. In the last few hundred years, this glacial dam was breached leaving a gap between the glacial tongue and the cliffs. Beyond this gap (which allows ships to pass along the entire front of the combined glaciers) lies further glaciers, icebergs, brash ice, and stunning cliffs.


Segelsallskapet Fjord

The spectacular mountains in the fjord provide good examples of folded and faulted sedimentary rock layers amongst the Eleonore Bay formations.  The landing site provides miniature versions of those layers that look like striped candy. This is a truly unbelievable landing site that will pique your interest in geology like nowhere else, and certainly provide the photographers a plethora of subject matter.

Vikingebugt / Bredegletscher Glacier

Even compared to the last location, Vikingebugt won’t disappoint your new-found interest in geology.  An intrusion of volcanic material 60 million years ago left an pile of basalt up to 10km thick.  As it cooled and contracted, the basalt formed into almost perfect hexagonal structures.copyright north winds photography

The neighbouring glacier is particularly proficient at producing massive icebergs that slowly drift out of the fjord into Scoresby Sund. By the time they reach the relatively open water they have been moulded into the most spectacular shapes.

Ø Fjord / Milne Land

copyright north winds photographyThis fjord provides the ship-bound visitor a splendid opportunity to appreciate the multitude of shapes and the range of colour that icebergs can exhibit as they make their way down the channel into the main body of Scorebsy Sund.

A series of Arctic images and reflections with thanks from Dave Wilson. Photographer. You can see more of David’s work at North Winds Photography

arctic ice pack Arctic Complete – (27th July – 18th August 2017)

Celia Hills enjoyed a Wildfoot Travel  trip to the Arctic recently. Responding to our call for ‘Traveller’s Tales’, Celia sent in this summary of her trip along with some excellent photos.
Now that we’ve set the scene, we’ll hand you over to Celia……..

The trip began with everyone meeting at Longyearbyen airport in Svalbard and going on a coach tour of the town before boarding the Polar Pioneer for the start of the adventure into the Arctic.

Arctic Exploration Cruise Vessel The Polar Pioneer
The Polar Pioneer, a Finnish-built expedition cruise ship operated by the Australian cruise company Aurora Expeditions

The first exciting thing was to be briefed on safety & to do a lifeboat drill as we were leaving harbour. Trying to get into one of two small lifeboats with all 53 passengers & some crew was a challenge with huge lifejackets & little space. As there is permanent daylight at these latitudes at this time of year there was much to see already.

Huge numbers of sea birds to be seen included Fulmars, Glaucous Gulls, Little Auks, Puffins, Black Guillemots, Brunnichs Guillemots, Kittiwakes Eider Ducks & Arctic terns. As the trip progressed the numbers of some of these verged on the staggering with huge seabird cliffs bulging with adults & chicks. Less often seen were the Arctic Skuas & Great Skuas. Geese were also abundant with Pink Footed geese & Barnacle Geese the most common.

Only two days into the trip & the first of 12 polar bears was sighted. This trip was outstanding for bears with the best left to last with a sighting of a mother & cub. One encounter with a male bear on a hunting mission was deemed to be worthy of a “Frozen Planet” sequence by the guides as it had the bear stalk & attack three bearded seals over a 3 hour period.

a polar bear hunting on the arctic shoreline
Only two days into our trip & the first of twelve polar bears was sighted.

Another highlight of this trip were the glaciers & icebergs for sheer beauty of colours, size & shapes & glaciers calving when viewed from a zodiac is amazing with the sound & then mini tsunami.

History is also a strong feature of this trip with various ancient camps, huts and burial grounds of the ancient explorers & trappers.

Walrus were also a highlight with some amazing sounds  & smells in the pushing & shoving of a group of young males, while an encounter from the zodiac of a group of females & young was enchanting.

Walrus were also a highlight with amazing sounds & smells.
Walrus were also a highlight with amazing sounds & smells.

Tiny Arctic Foxes were a delight & some almost tame in their tolerance of close humans. One catching an unfortunate Kittiwake chick that was pushed from its nest showed nature in the raw.

A pod of over 20 Beluga whales was another  of many highlights with them cruising around the zodiacs.

Crossing the Greenland Sea from Svalbard to Greenland was mostly uneventful with birds & fog being the order of the days.

Greenland has certainly got the wow factor with glorious scenery & magnificent rock formations & colours. Scoresbysund being the most amazing place. The addition of Musk Ox in Greenland added to the wildlife total.

Apart from Longyearbyen in Svalbard the only other occupied area visited on this trip was Ittoqqortoormiit, one of the only inhabited area of east Greenland & home to 350 people.

For me one of the best experiences was on the last landing in Greenland where there were a pair of Gyr Falcons, a bird I had never seen.

To summarise this trip is difficult because there were so many highs – Polar Bear, Walrus, Arctic Fox, Musk Ox & the thousands of birds – but what made I was the staff & crew of the Polar Pioneer being so friendly & knowledgeable.

Celia Hills.

See more of Celia’s photos in this photo gallery

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Baffin Island & Greenland 11

John from Wildfoot travelled in August from Iqaluit on Baffin Island to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland on one of the company’s Arctic adventure cruises. This is the final day in the log of his experiences.


day 12b

Day 12


Bags collected from our cabin at 07.00, then breakfast and a zodiac transfer across dead calm but very muddy water to the small harbour. There is no actual town here, the airport was built in the 1940s as a fair weather staging post between America and Britain and still has the longest runway in Greenland, so it is the only international airport and smaller planes, Dash 7s and 8s are what we saw, feed passengers in here.


On the drive from the harbour to the airport, we caught a glimpse of the Greenland Icecap in the distance and also saw the swathe of muddy residue which flows down from the glacier to the fjord.

day 12

An interesting fact is that the Greenland flag is actually a representation of the sun rising over the Greenland icecap.


Most of our fellow travellers return to Ottawa later in the day, so are off for a excursion in the Arctic looking for musk oxen – shame we will miss this, just means we will have to come on an Arctic adventure cruise again another time!

Day 12c

Last minute souvenir shopping at the small airport shop and we are off to Copenhagen, where we overnight before returning to Manchester.


And so ends another brilliant trip to the world’s extremes – where next!

Baffin Island & Greenland 10

John from Wildfoot travelled in August from Iqaluit on Baffin Island to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland on one of the company’s Arctic Cruises to Greenland. This is a log of his experiences.

day 11c

Day 11


Early start this morning and out on the zodiacs by 06.30 to go to the Evigshed Glacier. The scale of these things is amazing; the glacier looks small until you spot the little dot near its base and realise that it is another zodiac, probably 1000 or so yards away with the wall of ice towering hundreds of feet above. As we got closer, we could hear the occasional cracks and bangs as ice calved away in the background and then suddenly there was an almighty crash and an enormous chunk of ice fell away into the fjord. We were well back, but were still rocked by the swell it caused.

day 11d

Back to the ship for breakfast and then a sail back along Evigshed Fjord, with high peaks and cirque and hanging glaciers – very picturesque.


Today is our last day on board our Arctic cruise in Greenland and Arctic Canada, so have gone through the settlement of accounts – did I really drink that much at the bar?!

day 11a

Then a ship’s tour. First we went to the big room we use as the mud room (where the wellies and life jackets are stored), but this is actually a room with a massive underwater antenna suspended in a frame, which can be lowered through the bottom the hull to a depth of over 1000m to transmit to another ship and chart any underwater objects in between – ours is primarily a research ship built during the Cold War! Then to the engine room and up to the bridge where all the instruments we have seen up there during the trip were actually explained. Fascinating.


Sailing back north to Sondre Stromfjord, one of the longest in Greenland with a particularly impressive entrance with kittiwakes and fulmars swirling around where the currents converge.

day 11b

After lunch, we went out on the zodiacs for a final excursion in the Arctic and this time into virgin territory. The ship had never stopped at this point in the fjord before, so the crew looked at maps and off we went to find a suitable landing place about 15 minutes away and there most of us went for a walk across the tundra and up and down rocky outcrops in the bright and very warm sunshine. It is so hard to believe we can walk in t-shirts in Greenland, even in the summer. Mind you, we did also have to cope with swarms of midges, which did not bite but were massively annoying.

day 6e

A pre- dinner presentation of a slideshow of our shared experiences on the trip and our excursions in the Arctic. Carolyn, the trip photographer, had been taking pictures throughout the trip and had made sure she had caught all of us on film. We have this on a memory stick. A dinner of fresh Arctic Char uploaded in Sisimuit followed by a very convivial evening in the bar rounded off our expedition. Tomorrow we will wake up in Kangerlussaq having sailed the length of this massive fjord.

Baffin Island & Greenland 9

John from Wildfoot travelled in August from Iqaluit on Baffin Island to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland on one of the company’s Arctic holiday cruises to the Canadian Arctic and Greenland. This is a log of his experiences.


day 10a

Day 10


Luxurious late call for breakfast this morning, because we are at sea until lunchtime. Just as well, since I ended up in the bar even later than usual last night with Huw, one of our lecturer guides and Cristian, a professional photographer. Cristian is just coming to the end of a project to travel around the Arctic Circle photographing people who live and also visit the Line. Should be an interesting publication.


During the morning, we had the results of the on board photo competition for pictures taken on our Arctic holiday cruise, with some great entries and, afterwards, a final lecture on Arctic exploration.


The afternoon was spent in Sisimiut, the second largest city in Greenland, after the capital, Nuuk, but still with a very small town feel. The weather is amazing today, bright sunshine and really warm – I never would have expected to be walking around in a t-shirt on the Arctic Circle. The town is pretty typical with a busy fishing port and lots of bright, colourful buildings. Also, an interesting museum, consisting of several buildings, each depicting different aspects of Greenlandic life. Before we left, we were treated to a display of kayaking by a local, who demonstrated his skills in the water alongside the ship. Our ships doctor then joined him – he turned out to be a bit of an expert himself, having been an Olympic medallist with the USA team in Los Angeles!

day 10b

Back to the ship and pre-dinner drinks on deck in the evening sunshine. After dinner, the very funny results of the on-board limerick competition. Over 80 entries from such a small passenger complement is pretty good and these had been whittled down to just 12. Limerick writing is actually quite difficult! I had managed to come up with three and one of these made the final cut, but was not the winner. An excuse for a consolatory beer.


Baffin Island & Greenland 8

John from Wildfoot travelled in August from Iqaluit on Baffin Island to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland on one of the company’s Arctic Cruises to Greenland. This is a log of his experiences.


day 9a

Day 9


Woke this morning with the sun streaming thought the window, which was brilliant, since we were off on the zodiacs for a pre-breakfast cruise at 06.30. We thought yesterday’s icebergs were big but today we are at their actual source at Ilulissat, where they have broken away from the Jacobshavn Glacier and come away in massive chunks into the Davis Strait. We cruised around in the early morning sunshine for about 90 minutes amongst these massive bergs – truly amazing.

day 9c

After breakfast, we zodiaced into the port itself and went off for a walk. Ilulissat is a world heritage site and after walking about 3km, we found out why. We came to a spot overlooking the point at which the Jacobshaven glacier spews out its ice into the bay. I have seen many beautiful sites but this has to rank with the most spectacular, just a magical sight, with bergs and brash ice moving surprisingly quickly with the current, especially in the sunshine against a deep blue sky. This glacier is moving at a metre an hour.

day 9b

Then, a wander around town with a look in the supermarket and the one souvenir shop open this Sunday morning and then into the very well laid out and interesting museum.


Not much wildlife today. Those in one of the zodiacs this morning spotted a pair of humpback whales, but the best we have seen is more Icelandic Gulls, fulmars, wheatears and snow buntings. Not sure if dogs count as wildlife, but we walked past a massive open area where all the sled dogs are kept during the summer. Hundreds of them there with cute pups too, but very noisy and a bit smelly too!

day 9d

Back to the ship for a barbecue lunch on deck in the sunshine whilst sailing out past those magnificent bergs again – running out of superlative adjectives!


There is a pair of cameramen/presenters from the Canadian Weather Channel on board. They have been filming each day and having fun too – today’s combination of elements has made them very happy!


Lectures today included another by our resident historian, this time about the explorer John Ross, who added to the knowledge of Arctic Canada in the early 19th century whilst seeking the elusive northwest passage – his certainly wasn’t a luxury Arctic cruise!


During dinner this evening, there was a call for whales and over the next half hour, we saw several humpbacks at binocular distance from the ship with great displays of blows and flukes.

Baffin Island & Greenland 7

John from Wildfoot travelled in August from Iqaluit on Baffin Island to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland on one of the company’s Arctic Cruises to Greenland. This is a log of his experiences.

Day 8


Woke up this morning with a signal on my mobile phone for the first time since leaving Iqaluit on Baffin Island and Arctic Canada. I’m glad I turned off the data roaming, though, I bet that would have cost a fortune just locating where I am! We were coming in to the port of Qeqertarsuup on Disko Island on the west coast of Greenland surrounded by the most amazing icebergs.

day 8b

We could not land in the port until after 09.00, because it is a Saturday and no official is available to give clearance until at least that time! It is a picturesque little town with lots of multi-coloured buildings clustered around the harbour. It is immediately evident that we are now in Europe rather than the Americas – the native signs are Inuit, but the secondary language is Danish and there are lots of other indications that we have crossed continents – no KFC for example and far less big automobiles, plus Northern European style housing.

day 8c

Went for a couple of hours’ walk out of town and then came back to pop into the supermarket and the surprisingly interesting museum. Supermarkets abroad are always fascinating and here was no exception, especially in the frozen section, where there were gulls and seal meat.

day 8a

Back to the ship for lunch and then out on the zodiacs for the most amazing zip around the icebergs in Disko Bay. It is a spectacular panorama of icebergs, big and small and under a clear blue sky, an amazing experience. We even saw one berg tilt and then calve tons of ice into the sea with a loud crack. All these bergs have come from Ilussiat and that is where we will be tomorrow.

day 8e

We saw lots of Glaucous and Icelandic gulls and some black guillemots, but no gyrfalcons or humpback whales – you can’t have everything!

day 8g

These were the best conditions you could hope for an Arctic cruise in Greenland in August, so we are really lucky. I am writing this at 23.30 and it is still barely twilight outside on a flat calm sea.

day 8f

5 things you didn’t know about Greenland

The largest island in the world but also the least densely populated, Greenland is a country that remains largely undiscovered by many. In common with other areas in and around the Arctic, the country offers much for those interested in the most stunning natural scenery, but it also has so much more to interest the intrepid traveller.

Below, we list five things that you might not be aware of about this northernmost of destinations.

  1. It has a rich history of inhabitation

Greenland may have a reputation for being somewhat remote, but its history of known inhabitation stretches back some 4,500 years, with some of the earliest residents including migrants from what is now Canada.

The then-uninhabited southern part of the country was settled by Norsemen from the 10th century, with Inuit peoples arriving in the 13th century.

  1. The country supports a wide range of flora…

From the carpet of mosses and low-lying shrubs that characterises the ground in northern Greenland, to such abundant plants in the south of the country as the dwarf birch and willow, there is no question about the richness of Greenland’s plant life.

  1. …and fauna

Greenland is home to large land mammals like the musk ox, polar bear, white Arctic wolf and reindeer, with other mammals including the collared lemming, Arctic fox and Arctic hare.

Visitors can also encounter marine mammals such as the hooded seal and grey seal, birds like the raven and snowy owl and fish including cod, halibut and caplin – many of these also being important to the economy.

  1. Greenland is a constitutional monarchy

Head of state in Greenland since 1972 is Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who officially wields executive power and presides over the Council of State (privacy council).

However, the country now operates under a parliamentary system of government, the monarch’s duties having consequently become strictly representational and ceremonial.

  1. It is best explored on an Arctic cruise

Such is the sparsely-populated nature of the country and its still relatively undeveloped infrastructure, Greenland may be best discovered via one of our complete Arctic cruises here at WILDFOOT.

We offer comprehensive and well-priced packages for various areas of Greenland, in accordance with your own budgetary and practical requirements. Enquire now about the best Arctic cruises to Greenland!