Day 8 September 21st
At 7am the sound of Anja’s gentle wakeup call fills our ears. We are off to Frederiksdal in Nordvestfjord and we have entered a very special national park in Greenland! Hunting is banned here so there are many muskox’s grazing on the baron tundra. Today on offer is a long and medium hike and a beach walk for the beach bunnies! I chose the medium walk and it was up a very steep hill! We find several muskox skulls and then a whole carcass with its fur still intact so this animal may have died a few months ago. We also find arctic fox foot prints in the sand but no further sign of that fox! The view from the top is stunning and I think this is the prettiest bay we have seen so far! After a good walk to the top of the ridge and back down again it’s time to sit on the beach and relax in the bright sunshine... taking in the incredible icebergs in front of us!
Lunch today is a BBQ on deck 5 and it’s an incredible affair! The staff work tirelessly on this ship to provide an incredible service for the passengers and this lunch is exceptional! The captain parks the ship so we are all in the sunshine but there are blankets to cover your legs and keep you warm, we are in the high arctic after all!! There is a feast of jerk beef and Chinese style ribs, chicken, sausages, burgers, salads and a spread of deserts! After lunch we cruise along Nordvestfjord and see the most enormous icebergs, the largest is almost two miles long! It’s hard to comprehend just how huge they really are and they are stunning in the afternoon sunshine. Anja makes announcements to make sure everyone is up and makes it outside to see this rare beauty.
This afternoon there’s another choice of hike level, I chose the long, steep hike and when we arrive at Eskimobukta it doesn’t disappoint. The walk is up a steep hill and as we have Vikram as our guide he tells us all about the Inuit people and how they built their houses with rocks and used animal intestines for the windows to let some light in. This would be the woman’s job to sew the intestines together, cook and clean. They had a small chimney at the front of the house to let some smoke out while cooking but generally they kept this closed as it let too much cold air in as temperatures reach minus 50 degrees. As we continue to climb in our small group, we see a herd of muskox around 200 meters in front, everyone creeps in silence forward, steady and slow, but they hear us instantly and gallop off into the distance with an almighty speed! However, we don’t have to wait long for another chance. As we edge forward a family of muskox are directly in front of us on a ridge. They know we are present but they seem much less spooked by us being in their environment.
A mother and her calf stand are looking directly at us and seem to relax a little, they start eating the scarce vegetation on the patch of tundra they have chosen. We edge forward silently, only the scrape of muck boots on gravel can be heard, we stop 50 meters from the woolly animals and we can see their faces, coloured like masks with big woolly coats and huge horns which look much more terrifying up-close! The muskox are part of the goat family and are just as agile so running up mountains at speed comes easily but running down is a different story! We are told to run down-hill immediately if they decide to charge, strong and sturdy advice from Vikram! After 10 minutes of captivating viewing of these beasts they decide they want a higher viewpoint and run up the mountain full speed, even the baby manages to keep up! We all look at each other in disbelief! Wow, want an incredible encounter!
We clamber over frozen waterfalls and streams back down to the beach and it’s time to head back to the ship! Hot gulwine awaits us and a big group photo on deck 5, the red Poseidon jackets look striking as we all huddle together. After dinner we are treated to another show of northern lights, they dance over the ship and look like some kind of spirit coming down from the heavens, it’s not surprising there are many stories of spirits and ghosts in Inuit folk-law! After two hours in the jacuzzi watching the show it’s definitely time for bed.