Greenland: Land of Superlatives

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On September 16th, I flew to Iceland and spent an evening in Reykjavik, then crossed to the town of Akureyri the next day. From Akureyri, I boarded Oceanwide Expeditions’ new Polar Class 6 expedition cruise ship, m/v Hondius, bound for Greenland.

Hondius is a magnificent vessel with the maximum current ice classification, which allows navigation safely in the polar regions.

The design is not forgotten, either, as it has neat mid-century modern decor.

The next 24 hours of sailing allowed us to quickly reach Greenland, where we sailed through the famous Strait of Denmark in good conditions as the first icebergs appeared on the horizon. Then we reached the Greenland coast, which was just beautiful.

We saw Scoresby Sund, the largest fjord system in the world, which reaches nearly 350 km (216 miles) inland, and visited its Red Fjord. We also sailed along the coast of Blosseville, the highest mountain range of Earth’s largest island.

The highlight of this voyage, however, was the stopover at Ittoqqortoormit, the northernmost village on the east coast of Greenland.

The isolation in which the less-than 400 native Greenlanders live is almost total. Bear and musk oxen skins dry on the railings around the houses. (I counted at least five.) And near the school, I discovered by chance a stone monument with a sealed plaque engraved in French:

A la Mémoire

De l’Explorateur français J-B Charcot

Et de ses compagnons

Disparus en mer le 16 septembre 1936

En souvenir de ses compagnes au Groenland

De 1925 à 1936

Hommage du Gouvernement Danois

De l’Université de Paris

Du Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle

Et des Anciens du « Pourquoi Pas? IV

The monument was built in memory of the Franch explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot and his work in Scoresby Sund. When we finally left Greenland, the northern lights, or aurora borealis, were illuminating the skies above the Danish Strait for two nights in a row.

And during the day humpback whales accompanied us to Husavik Bay and the shores of Grimsey, ending our voyage with their magnificent ballet.

Greenland is truly a land of superlatives.

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