Q&A with Beau Pruneau, Polar Guide and Expedition Leader

Beau Pruneau

22 Mar 2018


This August, Beau Pruneau will serve as the expedition leader on our pioneering trip to Greenland’s remote east coast, adding his considerable experience working in the world’s polar regions to that of Hadleigh Measham (assistant expedition leader), Jens Wikström (on-board naturalist) and Andrew James (photographic guide).

Beau’s adventures have taken him all across the Arctic, serving variously as a gun armourer, polar bear expert and helicopter operations coordinator, among other things! In this Q&A, we sat down with Beau to get his thoughts on what makes Greenland such a great destination for those wanting to explore the Arctic.

Can you tell us about your favourite wildlife encounter in Greenland?

My favourite Greenland wildlife encounter has definitely been tracking a group of muskox across the tundra! They are truly amazing animals to observe up close, with their thick, shaggy coats, imposing bulk and curved horns. Myself and a group of guests got to within less than 100 metres or so - the photographers were very happy!

Can you remember the first day you ever spent in Greenland? What did you think of it?

Of course! My first day in Greenland was an unforgettable experience. I spent the morning cruising in a zodiac while watching three polar bears – a male was sleeping in a small gully, and a female and cub were heading off over the mountains! I then landed at an old sled-dog hut with all the old wooden dog cages scattered about. The sun was shining, and the water was dead calm... pretty awesome!

In your opinion, what is the best part of sailing to East Greenland?

Sailing from Svalbard means you can spend a large amount of that time near the pack ice, which is always more interesting than simply crossing the open ocean. There’s a lot more to see this way! Sailing from Iceland gets you there quicker – you only need to sail for one day on the open ocean – and you’ll be going through really good whale-watching waters to boot!

Why do you think people should visit the east coast rather than the west?

There are many advantages that Greenland’s east coast has over the west. It’s more remote and as a result has fewer settlements, fewer residents and fewer tourists. The environmental impact from people is much less pronounced than it is in the west. All this means that your chances of spotting wildlife here will be much better!

What three things are at the top of your packing list when you travel to the Arctic?

Good Gore-Tex gear, good gloves and good binoculars! Staying warm and dry in the Arctic is incredibly important, so make sure you always bring the appropriate gear. Binoculars are always handy; it’s not always possible get as close to wildlife in the Arctic as you’d like, whether it’s a whale surfacing somewhere in the distance or a fox visible for just a few seconds as it pokes its head out of its den. This is when you’ll be thankful you packed your binoculars!

Why are you excited about heading to Greenland this summer on the M/S Freya?

Greenland is a relatively new frontier for a lot of people, but also for us guides! Having the chance to guide in new areas and explore uncharted waters is always exciting and helps keeps us on our toes with something new, fresh, and exciting! East Greenland in particular is not a place that’s been explored by many, so it will be thrilling to do so with a dedicated expedition team and a group of like-minded travellers!

What is your favourite place in East Greenland?

Røde Ø (Red Island) is fantastic. It’s located at the southern end of Rødefjord (Red Fjord), which is an arm of Scoresby Sund – the largest fjord system in the world! Once on the island, you take a short hike up to a clifftop that overlooks a “graveyard” of icebergs in a narrow channel, which have drifted here after calving off a glacier or ice shelf – what a sight!

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