Voyage from the western cliffs of Iceland to the seldom-seen shores of northeast Greenland aboard the Polar Class 5 National Geographic Endurance. Discover the historic towns and natural wonders of Iceland’s Westfjords region. Cross the Denmark Strait, then spend several days venturing into the bays and fjords of Greenland’s rugged east coast, where few travelers have set foot. Navigate by kayak and Zodiac between towering ice floes and seek out legendary Arctic wildlife including polar bears. Follow the paths of early Arctic explorers and visit a remote settlement situated on the longest fjord system in the world.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Fly overnight to Reykjavík. Upon arrival, explore the city’s colorful historic quarter, where Iceland’s first street was constructed in the 18th century. Discover landmarks including the towering Hallgrímskirkja Church, completed in 1986, with its distinct tower that can be seen from anywhere in the city. Visit the National Museum of Iceland, featuring treasures from Viking settlements, medieval monasteries, and contemporary artists. In the evening, settle into your accommodations aboard the National Geographic Endurance.
Explore Iceland’s wild western coast, where the world of the Icelandic sagas comes to life. View jagged rock spires rising toward the clouds and spectacular waterfalls flowing over the hills. Glide past the immense Látrabjarg cliffs, the westernmost point in Europe and a breeding ground for puffins, razorbills, and other seabirds. The birds protect their chicks from Arctic foxes by building nests over 1,400 feet above the crashing waves. Visit Flatey island, a centuries-old fishing and trading post, and walk the town’s single street amid roaming sheep. Meet local families who have called this remote region home since their Viking ancestors first settled in Iceland in the ninth century. Later, cruise up the coast by Zodiac to see where Erik the Red is said to have set sail in 982 A.D. on his first voyage to Greenland.
Today the National Geographic Endurance crosses the Denmark Strait, where the East Greenland Current carries ice south from the Arctic Circle. Enjoy presentations from our experts and be on the lookout for seals; humpback whales; and seabirds such as fulmars, kittiwakes, and terns. Take advantage of our onboard amenities by relaxing in the sauna or browsing in the library. In the evening, keep an eye out for the ethereal northern lights, which can be seen at this time of year.
We’ll spend the next several days exploring the rugged coast of Northeast Greenland National Park, the world’s largest national park. The park covers over 375,000 square miles of pristine wilderness and has no permanent human population except for an elite dogsled patrolling team. Weather and ice conditions will dictate our route, and each day’s itinerary remains flexible in order to make the most of exploration opportunities. Our ice-class expedition ship, equipped with state-of-the-art sonar and a reinforced hull, allows us to forge through the ice smoothly and comfortably.
As we travel along the coast, venture out by kayak or Zodiac to explore the astonishing ice-dotted landscape at water level, paddling past sheer cliffs and jagged mountains rising from the sea. Watch for polar bears stalking the ice floes, Atlantic walruses feeding, and pods of elusive narwhals. Our National Geographic photographer will help you capture images of wildlife and breathtaking panoramas. Glimpse the fascinating marine life and geological features below the surface via underwater cameras and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) deployed by our undersea specialist. The northern lights put on a spectacular show at night, weather permitting, illuminating the sky in shades of pink and green.
Our course will take us south to Scoresbysund, the largest and longest fjord system on Earth, named for the Arctic explorer William Scoresby, who first mapped the area in 1822. At the entrance stands an isolated settlement—home to a few hundred native Greenlanders who have maintained their traditions for generations. In Scoresbysund, kayak between blue-tinted icebergs and learn the various terms to describe ice formations, from pinnacle to dry-dock. Hike through a dramatic landscape of striated stone outcroppings concealing the secrets of Earth’s geological history, and spot Arctic hares hiding among the rocks. In the evenings, enjoy dinner as the late summer sun sets over the water and hear presentations from our experts.
After returning across the Denmark Strait, venture into Iceland’s remote Westfjords region, located just south of the Arctic Circle. Accompanied by our knowledgeable naturalists, hike through wildflower-sprinkled meadows and walk over basalt crags carved during the last ice age. Board a Zodiac or kayak to voyage up the fjords, inaccessible to most cruise ships. With guidance from our National Geographic photographer, train your lens on local wildlife: soaring sea eagles and snowy owls, seals basking on the rocks, and whales breaching offshore.
Disembark in Reykjavík and spend the afternoon soaking in the geothermal waters of the famous Blue Lagoon. Later, transfer to the airport for your flight home.