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Greenland & Wild Labrador



  • Jun 29, 2016 - Jul 11, 2016

Day 1 - St. Johns

We meet in St. John's—Newfoundland's historic, vibrant capital. Picturesque and welcoming, with a world-famous harbour, St. John’s has been continuously fished since 1498, allowing it to boast the designation of North America's oldest European settlement.

We will arrive in St. John’s ready to explore and will offer an optional city tour to interested parties in the afternoon. Afterwards, we will rendezvous at the docks and board the Ocean Endeavour to begin the adventure proper; passengers will meet the staff and crew, and prepare to leave the harbour. Sailing out of St. John’s has to be experienced to be believed; Signal Hill keeps watch over the world-famous narrows as we head for open water, passing Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America.

Day 2 - Notre Dame Bay

Notre Dame Bay is known for the dozens of quaint villages that dot its rocky shores, and it is to one of these small settlements that we will be paying a visit today. We may look forward to a characteristically warm Newfoundland welcome upon our arrival. The bay itself is home to a plethora of islands and, seasonally, ice bergs that drift in from the Atlantic; the Ocean Endeavour will chart a scenic course through these beautiful obstacles as we head north.

Day 3 - L'Anse aux Meadows

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, L'Anse aux Meadows is the only authenticated Norse settlement in North America. The archaeological remains found here in 1960 date to approximately 1000 AD. Amazingly, the location of the ruins was first established by a close reading of the Viking sagas.

Today a superb interpretive centre and reconstructions of the several Norse-style sod buildings make L'Anse aux Meadows a must-see for any visitor to Newfoundland.

Day 4 - Wonderstrands, Mealy Mountains Park Reserve

When we think of Labrador, we may not think ‘beaches’—but the Vikings did. Two long trackless crescents of sand, washed by the cold Labrador Sea, backed by the Mealy Mountains were given the name “Wunderstrand” by the Norse seafarers, and earned a place in their Sagas. Hunted, traveled, and occupied over thousands of years by various peoples, the Wonderstrands are still largely unknown and rarely visited by non-Labradorians.

The Mealy Mountains encompass five of Labrador’s ten provincial eco-regions, including coastal barrens, high subarctic tundra, high boreal forest, mid boreal forest, and string bog. The mountain range reaches heights of more than 1,000 metres. A significant portion of the mountain range and surrounding area has been recently designated a potential National Park Reserve, a move which follows lobbying for the preservation of the area since the early 1970s.

The governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador have agreed to pursue creation of a National Park Reserve, which would see the area managed as if it were a national park, pending settlement of Native land claims. Once settled, the area would likely be designated a national park, comprising approximately twenty thousand square kilometres.

Day 5 - Hopedale

Today finds us entering Nunatsiavut, the first Inuit region in Canada to achieve self-governance. Our stop today is in the town of Hopedale, founded as an Inuit settlement named Agvituk, or “place of the whales”. In the late eighteenth century, Moravian missionaries from Germany arrived in the settlement to convert the population—a population with a long history of traditional nomadic Inuit occupation. The Hopedale Mission is still standing and is thought to be the oldest wooden-frame building in Canada east of Québec. It was named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1970.

Today, Hopedale is the legislative capital of the Nunatsiavut Government. A new assembly building has recently been opened with local Labradorite stone tiling and sealskin seats. An important historical location for Labrador is thus enjoying continued vitality in the modern lives of its Inuit population.

We will be going ashore to meet with locals in the community and to learn about the mission and its history. There will be ample time for walking and exploration—a nearby abandoned American radar station affords spectacular views of the surrounding area.

Day 6 - Hebron

Long-abandoned Hebron was once one of the most northerly communities on the north Labrador coast. A Moravian Mission station was constructed here from 1829 to 1831 but the main buildings—the church, the mission house and the store—were not inhabited until 1837. In a highly controversial move, the station was abandoned in 1959 with the departure of the Moravians, forcing the relocation of the Inuit who resided there. In 2005, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams apologized to people affected by the relocations. In August of 2009, the provincial government unveiled a monument at the site of Hebron with an inscribed apology for the site closure. Today, some of the buildings at Hebron are being repurposed as a cultural interpretation centre and it is to these buildings that we will be paying a visit.

Unlike other Labrador communities that have been relocated, the buildings at Hebron still stand. Today they form a lonely monument—to the cultural past of the area, and to the hopes for the future of Nunatsiavut.

Day 7-9 - Torngat Mountains National Park

The Torngat Mountains have been home to Inuit and their predecessors for millennia, with archaeological evidence reaching back almost 7,000 years. The fjords here reach deep into the heart of the mountains, bounded by cliffs peaking at 1,700 metres, the highest point of land in Labrador. The rugged, spectacular beauty and inimitable spirit of the Torngat Mountains has led to their acting as the spiritual homeland of Nunatsiavut, both historically and into the present day.

The Torngat Mountains comprise some of the oldest rocks on the planet and provide some of the best exposure of geological history. Polar bears, caribou, falcons, and eagles are among the species hardy enough to make their homes here.

Day 10 - At Sea, Davis Strait

Our presentation series will kick into full swing as we steam across the Davis Strait towards landfall in Greenland. While out on deck keep your eyes peeled for minke, humpback and other marine mammals, as well as the seabirds that are sure to mark our passage.

Day 11 - Nuuk

Welcome to Nuuk, the capital of Greenland! Nuuk means 'the headland' and is situated at the mouth of a gigantic fjord system. Established as the very first Greenlandic town in 1728, Nuuk remains the bustling centre of the country today. We have the chance to spot Humpback whales in the fjord, reindeer roaming the land, and birds soaring in the sky. The town itself is home to Greenland's University, a cathedral dating back to 1849 and Greenland's National Museum. We will visit some of the city's most important sites, and you’ll have some free time to explore on your own.

Day 12 - West Greenland

There are a number of charming fishing villages along the west coast of Greenland—depending on timing and sea conditions, we will call in at one of these communities to experience small town Greenlandic life, or we may navigate into the stunning fjords that line the coast. This is a day in the true spirit of expedition travel and we will avail ourselves of any and all opportunities that present themselves.

Day 13 - Kangerlussuaq

We will make our way down spectacular Sondre Stromfjord, and early risers (or late-nighters) will have a chance to experience its beauty. Sondre Stromfjord is one of the longest fjords in the world and boasts 168 kilometres of superb scenery! Kangerlussuaq, the town at its eastern mouth, means 'the big fjord’. Although the fjord crosses the Arctic Circle, like the oceans here, it does not freeze. Locals can thank ocean currents for this, making this part of Greenland a centre for whaling and fishing all year. The United States built an air base at Kangerlussuaq in WWII due to the relatively mild weather and strategic proximity to Europe. Although the military base closed in 1992, the strip is now Greenland's main international and domestic airport.

The area is distinguished by fantastic nature and rich biodiversity. There is nowhere else in Greenland where it is so easy to go so far into the interior and the world’s largest ice cap can be reached in less than an hour. The landscape features enormous glacier formations, which have ploughed deep into the dramatic tundra. On the plain between the fjord and the inland ice you may find Greenland's biggest herds of musk ox, reindeer, arctic foxes as well as the highest concentration of peregrine falcons in Greenland and more than 250 species of plants.

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