- Our Expeditions
- Expedition Travel
- Expedition Travel
- Small Ship Cruises
- Overland Adventures
- Flight Programs
- Expedition Activities
- Why Zegrahm
- Private Travel
- Traveler Info
Nordic Summer: Journey into the Ice
Nadia Eckhardt, October 2001
For those of us accustomed to life in more temperate climes, the word "summer" evokes a particular set of images and activities. Among these are trips to the beach, barbecue dinners, and, of course, long, long hours of daylight. Well, if you love the gifts of the season, but want to experience them from a new perspective, we offer summer's bounty in an entirely new setting.
On our Nordic Summer expeditions, departing 27 June 2002 aboard the M/S Endeavour, you will witness beaches as you've never seen them, crowded not with lifeguards, sun worshippers, and swimmers, but with kittiwakes, fulmars, and walrus. You'll enjoy your barbecue on deck in the crisp northern air, and if you love long summer days, nowhere are they longer than above the Arctic Circle. In addition, you'll sail beautifully carved fjords, explore wondrous archeological sites, gaze upon Europe's largest seabird colonies, experience the vast array of Arctic mammals - seals, walrus, whales, and more. Moreover, you'll behold the grandeur of endless ice fields.
Split into two parts, Nordic Summer links our popular Britain and Spitsbergen programs with the exciting destination of Norway. The first leg travels from the Scottish Isles to Norway, the second from North Cape to the islands of Svalbard. Both itineraries introduce a wealth of natural and cultural discoveries to the adventurous traveler.
Our journey began in Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh. After a day perusing the sights of both the city and Perth, the former seat of Scottish kings, we set sail for the Orkney and Shetland Islands. These isles are archeological treasure troves containing some of the best-preserved Neolithic sites in northern Europe.
From the Shetlands, we sailed north, plying the same route as the Vikings of old. Our early morning entrance into Raunefjorden afforded us our first, breathtaking look at Norway's legendary fjords. Tiny cottages nestled among towering pines, all perched on the sides of steep hills that flowed directly into the fjord.
We spent the next six days experiencing the diverse wonders of coastal Norway, including the spectacular Tokagjelet Gorge and Folgefonna Glacier, the picturesque towns of Alesund and Kjerringoy, and the islands of Runde and Rost, home to millions of nesting seabirds. The first leg of our journey ended at Nordkapp (North Cape), the northernmost point of land on the continent.
The second part of our voyage ventured into the sea ice of Arctic Norway. The dense, shifting sea ice allowed us to conduct this portion of the itinerary in true expeditionary fashion. As the ice-hardened M/S Explorer made its way to Svalbard, we kept a sharp lookout in the Arctic light for polar bears. We had seen seals, walrus, fin whales, and more than 230 species of birds, but a glimpse of the much-coveted bears had eluded us.
Then, five days out of port, success. We had just been served the main course at dinner when Tim was called away. He returned and whispered, "We've got polar bears up ahead." Now, would our passengers be willing to forego the highlight of their meal for bears? Of course. I announced that we were approaching polar bears, and the next few minutes were joyous bedlam as passengers grabbed hats, parkas, binoculars, and cameras and hurried to the deck.
Our captain slowly maneuvered our ship forward, our hull crunching through the ice, until we were within 100 meters of our prize, a mother and two cubs. Amazed, passengers took hundreds of photographs. Our only worry, that the chef would be upset at our ignoring his exquisite meal, was allayed when we spied him on the crowded deck, camera in hand, happily snapping away.
Over the ensuing days, we sighted six more polar bears, an impressive total. Spotting animals in the wild is often a chancy affair, but as Louis Pasteur noted, "Chance favors the prepared mind." Our intensive preparations and constant vigilance paid off. The result was one of the special moments that embody the very spirit of adventure travel.
Nordic Summer was replete with memorable images and moments. From the archeological wonders of northern Scotland to the ice-covered islands of Svalbard; from idyllic fishing hamlets to the remnants of polar expeditions; from the stunning profusion of birdlife to the wealth of Arctic marine mammals, Nordic Summer can stand with the very finest expeditions Zegrahm presents.