This morning we sailed into the majestic Arnarfjörður, a deep fjord carved by Ice Age glaciers that ground down through the basalt layers below as they flowed seaward. This location is typical of the deeply carved landscape of the Westfjords that are formed of layer after layer of basaltic lava flows that were emplaced 13,0000 to-16,000,000 years ago. Though geologically very young, these are some of the oldest rocks in Iceland. Our goal was soon in sight, splendid Dynjandi, the “thundering” waterfall that is famous in the Westfjords. Dynjandi certainly thunders and roars as it jumps down in stepwise fashion, forming a series of waterfalls over the lava layers that were carved into great steps by the relentless ice.In the evening we visited charming Vigur Island located in the giant fjord, Ísafjarđarjup, home of Atlantic puffins, eider ducks, black guillemots, wild Arctic terns, and more. The terns are in Iceland called Kria for their loud calls. Fearless in protecting their young on their nesting grounds, they do not hesitate to attack us, flying at our heads and screaming in protest that we are there. In a calmer scene, puffins posed with beaks full of small fish and eider duck hens herding their fuzzy ducklings around the grounds.
National Geographic Explorer
We arrived in Saglek Fiord on a windy Labrador day, the dramatic high cliffs of the fiord bearing witness to the sheer power of the glacial ice that carved them. Late August weather in northern Labrador can be uncertain -- the bright sunny days sometimes give way to howling winds and driving rain. But our weather luck held as we were treated to dramatic changes in light and shadow on the multi-hued rocks. The majestic beauty aside, we came to Saglek intent on kayaking the protected waters of the inner fiord. But our wildlife luck from earlier in the trip also held and we saw bears almost everywhere National Geographic Explorer sailed. First, we spotted a mother polar bear and two young cubs scrambling over the rocks and climbing the hill with an adolescent bear following along behind. Before long, someone spotted a black bear and then another polar bear. And so it went, until it became apparent that kayaking in this location wouldn’t be on the agenda! Instead, we took to the Zodiacs. After spotting yet another black bear, we found two red Adirondack chairs marking the start of a trail at the head of the northern fiord. A mother polar bear and her cub snoozed in the sun nearby, almost as if they were waiting to welcome the next group of hikers. In all, we saw eight polar bears and four black bears in a single afternoon. In the absence of pack ice, bears were on the land and sometimes in the water. In the past it was uncommon to see black bears so far north, but they now seem abundant, drawn to the crow berries ripening in the sun on the slopes of the surrounding hills. Location really is everything, and the calm waters of the inner fiord gave way to gusty winds and whitecaps as we headed back to the ship to see what the chef had planned for the evening.