What an amazing day in the world’s largest national park. We sailed deep into Franz Joseph Fjord, beginning with an incredible sunrise (at a very civilized hour now that it’s fall) over the giant icebergs in the fjord. The mountains were lit up pink as we sailed into our anchorage for the morning, and it was a quick Zodiac ride to shore for one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve done in Greenland. After an elevation gain, we finished at a red lake with perfect views of the snowcapped mountains in the background. We spotted muskoxen as we sailed even deeper into the fjord to find the source of all the icebergs: Waltershausen Glacier. Six miles wide and seventy miles long, she was incredible to behold. Surrounded by harp and ringed seals, ivory gulls, and giant icebergs, it was a glorious day.
National Geographic Endurance
After several days of calm, sometimes almost otherworldly conditions – a luxury in East Greenland – we awoke this morning to the ship moving in large, long swells. The entrance to Scoresby Sund is so large that ocean swells can make their way in almost unchecked if they come from the east, and today was one of those days. This did not bode well for our planned landing at Cape Hooker on the northern coast of Scoresby Sund. Fortunately, expedition leader Russ had plan B up his sleeve, and we entered Hurry Inlet, a long, narrow bay nearby with landscape that, while mostly flat, boasts gorgeous tundra vegetation. It was a great spot for a hike, and several options were on offer to make sure there was something for everyone. On the longest walk, we traveled several miles inland over cushiony tundra to overlook the almost Martian landscape of a braided river flowing from a glacier hidden in the low clouds on the horizon. While attempting to circumambulate an inviting-looking lake on the edge of the outwash plain, we encountered an unusual combination of very soft sand and layers of ice forming in the thin layer of water at the surface as well as inside the sand. Our footsteps were exceptionally crunchy, and the ice formations were a filigreed beauty. After the opportunity to stretch our legs, it was time to return to civilization this afternoon with a visit to the only settlement in the region. The town of Ittoqqortoormiit is home to about 400 people, and its name translates to, “The place with the many houses”; in comparison to the rest of the region, the name is certainly accurate. The town offers a fascinating look into the lives of Greenlanders, particularly those living in smaller settlements far from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities of the west coast. The expedition aspect of our excursion did not disappoint, as increasing swells and surging waves on the beach required us to switch to an alternative landing site around the corner. Eastern Greenland is one of the most spectacular parts of the world, and each day has something new and different to offer. We finished our day in style with a fantastic Filipino buffet feast prepared by executive chef Sara and her team.