Following the tracks of Viking Explorer Fridtjof Nansen
In late August of 2016, I went on a week-long tour of East Greenland on the Rembrandt Van Rijn. The ship was originally built in the 1920's but did not feel that way. It had seen many updates but managed to maintain the original charm. The vessel slept approximately thirty guests plus the maybe ten-person crew which was the perfect amount to accompany.
Passengers and crew were from all over the world and made for camaraderie that I will never forget. The tour was called “In Nansen’s Footsteps” which followed the tracks of Viking Explorer Fridtjof Nansen when he crossed the Greenland ice-cap in 1888.
While the entire population of Greenland is approximately 58,000, East Greenland is home to only 3,000. And it feels like it. We sailed into various fjords exploring the vast, uninhabited areas of the island and explored the sparsely populated settlements of the area. We flew into Kulusuk from Reykjavik. When we walked out of the plane, we were immediately blown away by the beauty of Greenland. There were icebergs floating in the clear Greenland Sea against a backdrop of rocky, endless mountains. Kulusuk has a population of 300.
We walked to the ship’s loading area about 3 kilometers from there. Our cameras were out doing our best to capture the awe-inspiring landscapes. We saw the locals which gave us a glimpse into the life of the Inuit people. There was one store in the settlement which had everything: clothes, food, electronics, diapers, and of course, rifles. Houses are modest but very colorful and made for great photographs.
We visited another settlement called Isotorq. Isotorq has a population of around 65. The icebergs off the coast of Isotorq were massive and beautiful. The photograph I attached shows the view of the icebergs. Despite his big personality, our fellow traveler Jeff from Arizona looks insignificant next to them. With his coat, he was just an observing yellow dot, albeit a pretty loud one.
Aurora Borealis in Tasiilaq
We also saw the “major city” on the East Coast called Tasiilaq (population 2,000). Jobs, roads and schools were in Tasiilaq. They probably had 20 km of roads. We anchored there for a night and were able to catch another view into life in Greenland. And fortunately, we were able to see the Aurora Borealis! We actually saw it for three nights. It was my first time. One night in particular it was very active. We were on the boat with a bunch of photographers. The lights started dancing and someone yelled “take as many pictures as you can!” And then it was silent. For the next hour, we just took it in.
In Nansen’s Footsteps
The trip was named after a Viking explorer named Fridtjof Nansen who crossed Greenland in the 1880’s. The trip followed the expedition’s footsteps. We felt like true Arctic Explorers. You definitely got the impression that not many had visited these places. It was mountains, rivers, lakes and glaciers and some didn’t have names. It has been discovered but maybe not much more than that. It is so remote, but full of beauty and life.
And when I say we were Arctic Explorers, I can’t imagine there being any better fed Explorers than we were. I really loved the food on the Rembrandt. Greenlandic salmon filet, lamb curry, bacon-wrapped pork medallions, Greenlandic halibut filet, and lamb rack filet were just a few of the items we enjoyed. It was excellent and the crew was so attentive. If there was a complaint from a fellow traveler, I didn’t hear it.
Something that everyone should do
I was fortunate enough to take this trip with my father. It was truly an amazing experience and to enjoy it with my dad was once-in-a-lifetime. I think that people are the best versions of themselves when travelling. You are separated from the normal, everyday of your life. Dad told me that he actually forgot that he had a job on this trip. I felt the same way but wasn’t able to articulate it then.
For me, other vacations have been great but to be in the Arctic- a cold, completely remote, but beautiful place is something that everyone should do if at all possible. And I would recommend doing it with Oceanwide Expeditions. The crew didn’t miss a beat. My dad told my mother this was his last adventure, but I know he has a few more in him. Cheers!