Tag Archives: greenland

All Aboard: MS Fram

The MS Fram was purpose built in 2007 to be one of Hurtigruten’s leading explorer vessels. Following in the wake of the original pioneering Norwegian explorer ship and its namesake, the MS Fram takes guests as close to the natural wonders of the world as possible.

Designed specifically to take on the polar waters, her itinerary is based on the Greenland and Arctic cruises during the European Summer months and then down to the Southern Hemisphere for round trips from Argentina through Antarctica in the European Winter.

Explore in comfort

Christened by Norway’s Crown Princess HRH Mette-Marit in 2007, MS Fram offers guests the chance to explore without sacrificing comfort. Interiors reflect the polar colours and landscapes, with photos from the original Fram and there are a number of cabin options to choose from. The artworks commissioned for the ship are by local Arctic-region artists and there is a heavy emphasis on the beautiful landscapes that dominate these far reaches of the world.

The ultimate adventurer

The most appealing thing about MS Fram is it’s small size – meaning not only are there less guests and more chance to get involved in shore excursions, but she is ideally sized for manoeuvring around icebergs and getting up close to ice floes. Guests reviews often comment on the approachability and knowledge of expedition staff who make an effort to engage everyone onboard in the discovery experience.

Daily lectures are offered in English and at least one other language (depending on the nationalities onboard but usually French, German or Norwegian) about all manner of topics and most days (depending on the route) different excursions are offered with the shore landings.

Discover your inner explorer

On the Iceland and Greenland itinerary, guests can enjoy a natural warm water spa ashore, or for the more adventurous, participate in guided hikes, sea kayaking or glacial boat rides. On the Antarctic itinerary, guests can hike in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton across South Georgia and admire wildlife such as penguins, seals and Orcas.

The activities are always weather dependant but some guests have relished the chance to try their hand at something new even when the weather doesn’t allow landings – such as photography or watercolour painting lessons.

Hurtigruten’s goal is to offer you a true expedition experience onboard the MS Fram, no matter your age or experience level. With a cruise on the MS Fram, everyone discovers their inner explorer.

Things to do in Nuuk, Greenland

Just 240km from the Arctic Circle, Greenland‘s capital Nuuk is nestled at the base of soaring twin peaks, with its brightly coloured buildings dotting the Nuuk fjord’s shore.

Charming and comfortable, Nuuk has museums and restaurants to offer, but by far its greatest attraction is the wonderful array of outdoor adventures! No matter the season, there is always something thrilling to do in Nuuk to take in the serenity of the natural surrounds.

Nuuk, a unique city

A great way to see the picturesque Nuuk is by bike – there are bikes for hire in the city centre. On your two wheels, ride your way around the sites of Nuuk, including the Nuuk Cathedral built in 1849 with its red spire dominating the cityscape and the statue of Hans Egede above the church. If you take a peek inside the Cathedral, you can’t help but notice two large brass candelabras, gifts from the Church of Norway.

In your downtime, enjoy a tasting paddle at The Godthaab Bryghus craft brewery or a show at the Northern Lights inspired architectural marvel that is Katuaq Cultural Centre. But first and foremost, get outdoors and feel the fresh air on your face!

Quassussuaq and Ukkusissaq Mountains

The twin peaks that loom above Nuuk are a wonderful place for hiking in the summertime. On a Hurtigruten expedition, you can add on a 8km guided walk along  Quassussuaq and admire the surrounding fauna. Alternatively, there are many hiking paths through the mountains and detailed maps available to forge your own way. Surrounded by flourishing greenery, wander your way through the mountains in the summer and spring months and behold the incredible vistas over the Nuuk fjord and the city below.

Quassussuaq and Ukkusissaq are also popular places for mountain biking, with many trails ranging from easy to challenging. In the winter time, the twin peaks offer great skiing and snowshoeing opportunities.

Nuuk Fjord

Nuuk fjord is the second largest in the world and perfect for exploring by boat or kayak. With many inlets and islands open to exploration, cascading waterfalls are common place. For those keen on fishing, there is fantastic angling for Arctic char, while the fjord waters are also home to large cod and redfish.

In the summertime, humpback whale sightings are not uncommon, and you might see one flipping one of their huge fins out of the water as they crest a wave. The Narsap Sermia Glacier flows directly into the fjord, filling the headwater with icebergs and is beautiful in its own right.

Qornok Fishing Village

Qornok fishing village is a quaint abandoned fishing town located on a small island in Nuuk. Sail your way across from Nuuk and enjoy the wind in your hair and then picnic on the island. Abandoned in the 1970s when the fishing industry shut down, the town is now used as a little nature resort for locals in the summertime. Only an hour and a half from Nuuk city, this is an easy and enjoyable day trip.


Contact one of our agents today about organising your Greenland adventure. Discover the largest but most sparsely populated islands in the world with Bentours!

Arctic Legends behind the Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, have baffled people for centuries, sending bright waves of red and green streaks of colour across the sky. From warring gods to shoals of fish the aurorae were seen as being both good and bad omens. Interestingly, mythology surrounding the phenomenon often aligned between people who were thousands of kilometres apart.

We have collected a few of our favourite explanations to share with you. However, it’s not until you’ve actually seen this natural light show that you can truly understand why so much mysticism arises around it! We offer a particularly special Northern Lights Astronomy Voyage for those who have dreamed of seeing this sight for themselves.

Legends have not only come about because of Aurora Borealis, but also the less viewed Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) that can be seen (sometimes) in southern Australia and New Zealand. Look out for an up-coming article World Mythology about Aurorae to learn more.

The Northern Lights in the Arctic

Greenland

In Greenland, children born during the Northern Lights are thought to be more intelligent. The Inuit of Greenland believed that the lights were spirits trying to communicate with the living, while another legend told of dead spirits playing a game across the sky with a walrus skull.

Alaska 

Flipping that last legend on its head, the Cup’it Eskimo of Nunivak Island believed that the game was played by walruses with a human skull. Other Alaskan tribes were very afraid of the lights and would throw dog faeces and urine in to the air to make them go away.

Canada 

Hudson Bay communities believed that the lights were a celestial farewell, being torches of dead spirits as they made their way up into the heavens.

Russia  

The Chukchi see the Lights as an area of Heaven rarely seen, the home of those who died a violent death. Russian texts as recent as the 15th century discuss the Northern Lights as heavenly armies fighting.

Iceland

The Lights are said to relieve the pain of childbirth as long as the mother does not look at them while giving birth. If she does, her child will be born cross-eyed.

Finland

Perhaps one of our favourite myths, the Lights were believed to be created by a celestial firefox, that runs so fast across the snow that his tail showers sparks into the night sky. The word for the Lights in Finnish is revontulet which means firefox. The Sami of Finnish Lapland believed the lights were spumes of water from whales.

Sweden 

The Lights were seen as heralding good news, indicating a good harvest or being the reflection of a large shoal of herring that would now fill the ocean. They were also said to be benevolent gods providing warmth and light through a distant volcano.

Norse Mythology

There are disputed claims as to whether the Vikings had any stories behind the Northern Lights, particularly because there is evidence to indicate there was very low solar activity at that time and so the Lights would have been weaker, rarer and mostly red. One of the most popular myths is that the lights were reflections off the armour of Valkyries, peering down at earth to decide who would leave a battle and who would die. This has been disputed for the lack of evidence within Viking texts, as it only comes into existence in more modern writings on the Vikings.

The more accepted myth is that the Lights were believed to be the Bivfrost Bridge, a glowing pulsating arch that led fallen soldiers to Valhalla (although some believe this was describing a rainbow and not the Lights).


Contact Bentours today to book in your Northern Lights adventure! We have many great itineraries to offer or perhaps better yet, relax and admire the view on a Hurtigruten Coastal Voyage with our Northern Lights Promise.

The Midnight Sun

Scandinavia is famous for its polar night, the winter months of the year where the sun hardly makes an appearance and the Northern Lights flash across the sky. The less spoken of but no less exciting time of year is the opposite – the Midnight Sun over the summer months. Locals make the most of the extended daylight hours to spend more time outside and basking in the sun.

What is the Midnight Sun?

The Midnight Sun is the phenomenon that occurs in and around the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle where the sun is still visible at midnight because of the tilt of the earth. This phenomenon can be experienced in Canada, Russia, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Greenland, Sweden and the USA (Alaska). The closer to the poles, the more sunlight there is – this means a quarter of Finland has 60 days of sun without setting, while Svalbard in Norway has no sunset from the 19th of April to 23rd of August.

Although the Midnight Sun only shines above and around the Arctic Circle, in truth the nights are ‘white’ throughout much of Scandinavia. During the summer solstice, the sun is visible for a full 24 hours but it is the days leading up to and following on from this mid June date, the white nights, where the sky is most fascinating, with sunset colours dominating as the sun briefly dips below the horizon then comes back up again. The line between night and day blurs and Scandinavians sleep less, spending their long days outside exploring.

It is at this time of year that much of the native flora and fauna of the Arctic begins to flourish. Having been dormant for the many winter months, wildflowers begin to bloom in the Arctic tundra and wildlife such as polar bears, elk, arctic foxes and migratory birds can be readily seen.

The cultural importance of the Midnight Sun

The Midnight Sun is culturally significant in old Norse legends, although how exactly it was understood is unclear. The Icelandic Snorri Sturluson attempted to compile Norse legends about the 12th century and although his compilation has been shown to be far from reliable, the legends about the sun and moon seem to be reasonably accurate of what the Norse people believed, coupled with many early artworks and artifacts.

The story goes that Sol (old Norse for Sun) and Mani (old Norse for Moon) were two beautiful siblings, a sister and a brother. The gods were so outraged that their parents had called them such powerful names that they condemned them to drive one chariot each across the skies, one pulling the moon and one pulling the sun, one after the other. These chariots were pursued by wolves and every once in a while the wolves would catch up with the brother or sister and devour them – thus there would be no sun (polar night) or no moon (midnight sun) until Sol or Mani were reborn.

Another classic Norse legend is that young women looking for love should collect seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve and place them under their pillow that night. Then, in her dreams of the next few months, her future fiance will appear.

In more contemporary history, the famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch depicted the golden lit Midnight Sun in his famous (and influential) work, ‘The Sun’ (1909). This wall mural occupied the University of Oslo’s Assembly Hall and was a symbol of the creativity and productivity of the Norwegian people under their golden Midnight Sun.

The best ways to experience the Midnight Sun

Norway

Known as the land of the midnight sun, there are some wonderful ways to experience the extended daylight hours of the summer in Norway. Consider a coastal cruise or some outdoor adventures to make the most of your long days.

  • Commonly mistaken as the most Northern point on the European Mainland, the North Cape is technically situated on an island. It is however a wonderful place to feel rejuvenated by the Midnight Sun with only the sea and Svalbard between you and the North Pole.
  • Take a cable car ride up 656metres in Narvik where you can behold stunning views of the fjord, the town, the islands and surrounding mountains including the famous Sleeping Queen. You can even hire a mountain bike to go back down into town!
  • Alternatively, take a cable car ride in the northern town of Tromso – although only 421 metres above sea level, the attraction affords amazing views of the peaks of Ringvassoya Island where the Midnight Sun hovers. Open well after midnight in the summer, this is the perfect way to make the most of the eternal summer days.
  • Visit Trollstigen National Tourist Route and admire the UNESCO listed Geirangerfjord from the  Flydalsjuvet rest stop.
  • Longyearben, Svalbard opens up in the summer time and is a wonderful place to visit. The most Northern Norwegian settlement, Svalbard enjoys the longest period of the Midnight Sun from 22nd April to 20 August.

Sweden

Visit Kiruna, in the Swedish Lapland to experience the Midnight Sun at it’s best along with famous Swedish hospitality. The Midnight Sun phenomenon lasts in Sweden from late May to mid July but the further North you go, the longer the season.

  • Play well passed midnight at the famous Bjorkliden Arctic Golf Course. 250km north of the Arctic Circle, this is one of the most scenic golf courses in the world and is open 24hours a day.
  • Indulge your inner artists in an Ice-Sculpting course at the ICEHOTEL, or ski into Midsummer’s Eve high up in the mountains.

Finland

A quarter of Finland is within the Arctic Circle and so the Finnish Lapland experiences about 70 consecutive days of constant sunlight.

  • The Midnight Sun film festival occurs every year in Sodankylä, located approximately two hours northeast from Lapland’s capital, Rovaniemi. The five day festival was founded in 1986 and has gone from strength to strength in each year since, with an international mix of filmmakers and film-lovers. Screenings run 24hours a day from 15 to 19 June and the highlight is the silent film concerts, always packed out.
  • Jutajaiset Folklore Festival in Rovaniemi is a celebration of the coming together of Lappish, Sami and Finnish culture in music, dance and performance. The program is both fun and educational, with the opportunity for anyone to participate in the National Course for Accordionists and an art camp designed specifically for children.

Iceland

Although outside the Arctic Circle, Iceland experiences the ‘Bright Nights’ due to refraction of the sunlight.

  • Explore the Land of Ice and Fire from inside a magma chamber at Thrihnjukagigur volcano. This amazing place is only open for May to September and is an unforgettable experience!
  • Make the most of the bright night and enjoy a late night dip in one of Iceland’s many hot springs.
  • Tackle a guided glacier hike in stunning surrounds during the afternoon and there is no need to hurry back for sunset as the days draw out.

Greenland

Experience the Midnight Sun in Greenland’s Northernmost towns – Qaanaaq, Upernavik and Uummannaq.

  • Take a boat ride among the ice flows and admire the awe-inspiring Ilulissat Glacier, above the Arctic Circle.
  • Even further south in Greenland, locals enjoy Bright Nights with nearly 20 hours between sunset and sunrise. In Qaqortoq and Nanoralik, nightlife and daytime activities merge and there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Discover the Midnight Sun on our small group tour Follow the Midnight Sun or contact an agent for more ideas to make the most of this amazing phenomenon.

10 Interesting Facts about Greenland

How much do you know about the largest ice island in the world? Sparsely populated on the coast, while the interior is covered with ice, Greenland is emerging as one of the world’s best kept secrets as a holiday destination.

And with Hurtigruten running Expedition Voyages up the coast, there is no better time to see the incredible flora and fauna! Plus it is a great chance to have an in depth look at the fascinating culture and history of this land of ice.

Did you know that…

1. 80% of Greenland is covered by an ice sheet and glaciers, estimated by scientists to be 400,000 to 800,000 years old, with the edges about 10,000 years old, a remnant from the last ice age! Despite that, the ice-free area is still as large as Sweden.

2. The flag of Greenland is a polar bear on a blue shield – the polar bear represents the fauna of the nation while the blue represents the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

3. Technically, Greenland is part of the North American continent although it is geopolitically aligned with Europe and is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. In fact, in 1946, the US attempted to purchase Greenland but Denmark refused.

4. The Northeast Greenland Ice Sheet has lost more than 10 billion tons of ice per year since 2003 due to melting, according to a Nature Climate Change study.

5. While sealing, whaling, hunting and fishing are the primary source of income, there are large deposits of gemstones all throughout the country and it is predicted that mining could take over fishing as the largest industry.

6. ‘Kayak’ and ‘igloo’ are Greenlandic words that have been adopted without modification into English.

7. There are practically no roads in Greenland! Despite the fact the country is enormous, all travel is done by plane, boat, helicopter, snowmobile or dogsled. As a matter of fact, there are hardly any cars in Greenland – with a population of 57,000, there are estimated to be only 2,570 cars in the entire country, most of them in Nuuk, the capital.

8. The indigenous people of Greenland are called Kalaallit (which means Greenlander in Kalaallisut language) and originate from Central Asia. Parts of Greenland have been occupied for over 4,500 years, although the people today are not directly descended from those earliest settlers. They are rather largely descended from a group that arrived in Greenland some 1,000 years ago.

9. Greenland is home to some of the world’s most extreme versions of sport including the Arctic Circle Race and the Ice Golf World Championships. The Arctic Circle Race is the toughest cross country ski race in the world, spanning 160km out of Sisimiut with both locals and visitors competing. The Ice Golf Championships occur in March over two days and involve a golf course cut into the ice between icebergs and into the snow fields.

10. From May 25 to July 25, Greenland experiences the midnight sun – thanks to the angle of the Earth, the sun travels across the sky but does not actually set. July is also the only month of the year were the temperatures are above freezing point!

Did you learn something new about Greenland? For such a sparsely populated land, the culture and history is certainly very fascinating – and there’s a lot more facts where these came from!

Experience the wonders of Greenland, from picturesque Nuuk to the incredible Ilulissat Icefjords with the largest glacier outside of Antarctica on a Hurtigruten coastal expedition voyage.

Arctic Adventures in Sisimiut

40km north of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is Greenland’s second largest town and a gateway to Arctic adventure. Try hiking, skiing, fishing, hunting, kayaking or dog sledding – if you can think of any Arctic activity, it’s probably common place in Sisimiut!

Although only established as a town in 1756, the area has a rich history and has been inhabited for some 4 500 years. There are countless artifacts of the Inuits of the Saqqaq culture who occupied the area almost five centuries ago while the majority of the population is descended from the Thule people, who settled the area nearly one thousand years ago.

Hurtigruten Greenland Expedition

Aboard a Hurtigruten journey, you can explore the coast of Greenland, seeing incredible glaciers, fjords and oceanside towns. Some towns of the island are so isolated that they can only be accessed by boat and most aren’t connected to each other by roads. Sisimiut is one of the larger towns the voyage stops at – specifically chosen for its charm and the wealth of opportunities it presents to adventurous souls!

Summer – Hiking, Fishing and more

In the summertime, take advantage of the midnight sun and hike amongst the mountains any time of day. Crest the summit of the Palasip Qaqqaa – from the peak on a clear day you can see the long Greenland coast snaking off into the distance. With the stunning views of the ocean and Nasaasaaq mountain, it is well worth the climb.

The back country of Sisimiut is where the original people of this land have walked for centuries. Participate in an organised guided walk to see early Inuit artifacts and ruins along the trail or buy yourself a map and find your own way.

Fly fishing is also a popular summer past time, with Arctic Char abounding in the rivers. There are also opportunities for big game hunting, mountaineering and kayaking.

Winter – Skiing, Snow Shoeing and Sleds

In the wintertime, do as the locals do and ski! Back country skiing offers fresh powder off-piste almost daily. Each year the strenuous Arctic Circle Race takes place from Sisimiut. At 160km, this race is the toughest cross-country race in the world but unites locals and travellers alike, all challenging themselves to an ultimate test of endurance.

Dog sledding is a must do, heading off into the back country for the afternoon or perhaps for a longer three day adventure. Bunk down in log cabins each night, eat fresh Greenland produce and try some cross country snowshoeing.

All year – Cultural Experiences and Fresh Produce

Visit the fascinating Sisimiut museum, housed in historic 18th century colonial buildings, with an entrance gate decorated by an intricately carved whale jawbone. Here, you can learn of the history and traditions of the region, as well as examining artifacts from the Saqqaq settlements, an exhibition of modern and traditional dog sleds and hunting tools, plus explore a reconstructed traditional peat house.

A trip to the local handicraft market is fascinating, where art is made out of reindeer antlers, seal skins and walrus tusks. A popular souvenir is a tupilaq statute – a monster traditionally carved into an animal bone but now more often out of antler or tusk, that Inuits would use to take revenge on their enemies.

For those not keen on any strenuous outdoor activities, Hurtigruten also offers a leisurely boat excursion, where you can admire the mix of modern and traditional in the town, with its brightly coloured colonial houses and new cultural centre.

To try the local fare, you can’t go past the central fish and meat markets, where there is casual dining on the very freshest ingredients. Just be aware that most of the market (and the museum) will only accept cash, so have some with you.


Contact an agent today to book your Bentours adventure with Hurtigruten up the stunning coast of Greenland!

Reasons to visit Greenland in 2017

Greenland: remote, wild and rugged.

For many years, travel in this country has only really been possible for the more adventurous traveller, willing to hitch a ride aboard a freight ship from Iceland. However in recent years, Greenland has opened its arms wide to tourism and now offers some of the most unique experiences of the Arctic and sub-Arctic to those thirsting for somewhere new to explore.

2017 is the year that Greenland comes into its own. With the growing tourism industry, there are enough resources available for you to see the country in comfort without the hordes of tourists. If you are a nature lover, Greenland is the place for you to visit and with Hurtigruten running expedition voyages up the Greenlandic coast in 2017, there is no better way to experience this incredible country of ice.

Trek…

… around the edges of the prehistoric ice sheet that dominates the interior of Greenland – in fact over 80% of the country. Ice sheet is perhaps misleading: there are many ice mountains, frozen freshwater formations and fauna. This ice sheet represents 10% of the world’s fresh water supplies and is 14 times the size of the UK.

Why 2017? A Nature Climate Change study has shown that the Northeast Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at a rate of 10 billion tons of water per year since 2003 and shows no signs of letting up.

See…

… the Ilulissat Icefjord, incredible and probably the most famous natural site of Greenland. Sermeq Kujalleq is the largest glacier outside of Antarctica and the whole area has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage.

Why 2017? As the popularity of Greenland grows, in 2017 you can see the glacier in many different ways – by boat, helicopter or even on foot, hiking around the edge of the glacier with experienced guides.

Relax…

… in one of the hundreds of hot springs scattered around Greenland. On the islands of Uunartoq and Disko there are many natural springs to choose from, ranging in temperature from 38 to 60 degrees celsius!

Why 2017? Many natural springs around the world have turned into luxury resort locations, which are lovely in their own right but a totally different experience. You’ll find none of that in Greenland yet, so come and enjoy pure, unadulterated nature at its finest.

Capture…

… the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on camera, visible from Greenland as they are from other Arctic countries. The green and red streaks will appear dancing across the sky between September and the beginning of April. A common tale in Greenlandic mythology is that the lights appear when the dead are playing football with a walrus skull across the sky!

Why 2017? Greenland has very little light pollution due to its sparse population and from a Hurtigruten ship, the Northern Lights can be seen with the greatest clarity. Plus due to the predicted solar cycle, 2017 is perhaps the best time to see the Northern Lights for the next decade.

Spot…

… polar bears! From January to April take a sled shore excursion to see polar bears where they hunt off the North and Eastern coasts of Greenland. You can also see reindeer, musk oxen, eagles, ptarmigan, lemmings and perhaps even the rare arctic wolf. From Ittoqqotoormiit in Northeast Greenland, you can access the remote but abundant interior national park with safaris to see both polar bears and walruses.

Why 2017? With the melting ice sheets, polar bears’ natural environment is being threatened more and more as the years pass. Plus the emerging tourism industry means that tour groups are smaller and more personal, so you can get right up close (but safe) to these incredible predators.

Watch…

… whales. Marine life in Greenland is abundant, so is it any wonder that the land has been inhabited for 4, 500 years!? See the gentle giants of the ocean with some summer whale watching. From Narsaq Minke whales can be spotted, while in the Nuuk fjord sometimes the huge humpback whales will appear.

Why 2017? Because why not?! Surely we have already given you enough reasons to visit this incredible part of the world this year!


Discover Greenland and all the natural wonders it has to offer in 2017 aboard a Hurtigruten voyage. Contact Bentours today to organise the Arctic trip of a lifetime!