Ittoqqortoormiit – one of the world's most remote villages
At the entrance to the world’s largest fjord system, Scoresbysund, lies the small village with the long name Ittoqqortoormiit.
Its approximately 450 inhabitants mainly live of fishing and hunting and have 800 km between them and their closest neighbours. But it’s not only the local pub, the supermarket with freeze-dried food or the little souvenir shop that make the village well worth a visit – it’s the impressively grand nature, the small and colorful houses and the feeling of being very, very far away that affects you. A huge ice cap surrounds Ittoqqortoormiit for nine months, but for a short period of time expedition ships can stop by, and we plan to make a visit during our trip to northeast Greenland with the expedition ship Ocean Nova in September! Join us!
Ocean Nova (Greenland)
78 (approx. 20 from PolarQuest)
7 nights on ship
USD 6 395
1 September 2018
Sula Sgeir & Rona
Far beyond the north-west coast of mainland Scotland lies Sula Sgeir, a remote rocky island reserved for seabirds and grey seals. Read about our travellers' visit on the island and on Rona, another island in the wild archipelago of Scotland.
Monday 30th April 2018 - Sula Sgeir and Rona, Scotland
On this sparkling morning our Zodiac took us on a circumnavigation of Sula Sgeir's cliffs, in and out of its dramatic sea-caves and tunnels, and brought us face to face with the guillemots and gannets that nest crammed on ledges here by the thousand, while grey seals noted our passage intently from every rocky niche. A remarkable tradition, dating back many hundreds of years, is still practised here in the annual ‘guga’ hunt, when intrepid Hebridean men catch a quota of young gannets, a famous local delicacy.
Another forgotten island beckoned to us from the horizon. Rona was occupied by farming families until the late 1600s, and the remains of their settlement amid a field system once golden with barley made an extraordinary sight in the open ocean. And at its centre, an ancient Celtic chapel, built long before the Vikings, and dedicated to St Ronan, who was said to have found his way to the island of the back of a great whale. Now the shores and skies were filled with gannets, guillemots, razorbills, puffins, eider ducks, shags, purple sandpipers and more, all gathering at this faraway undisturbed oasis of peace to breed. This is wild Scotland at its most wonderful.
Think of a Scottish castle set on a Hebridean rock, inhabited for 700 years by the same family, surrounded by wild and beautiful gardens, and you have an idea of Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, which we visited this morning. M/S Stockholm pulled up close to its battlements just like the galleys of centuries ago, and we came ashore beneath its lofty stone tower flying the ancestral clan flag of the Macleods. Inside the castle, elegant 19th century rooms led through thick ancient walls to medieval chambers and even dungeons where many a prisoner was incarcerated in turbulent times.
Then, sailing northwards and westwards, we came upon the Shiant Islands, a lonely group of small, steep basaltic islands, once inhabited and farmed, but now the home only of seabirds and seals. A Zodiac cruise took us into their realm of cliffs and magical caves: razorbills and guillemots flew overhead or formed groups in the water, rock pipits filled the air with their song, fulmars nested on ledges, puffins started to come in to land, and everywhere the watchful seals thronged the rocks and sea around us. In the distance little fishing boats from the Outer Hebrides ploughed the waves while, high above, a pair of white-tailed sea eagles soared. A truly Hebridean day of history and nature, land and sea.
Every spring, PolarQuest organizes a Guide Seminar so all our fantastic guides can meet and prepare for the upcoming Svalbard season, and during two days about two weeks ago we finally got together once again! The days were both busy and instructive with activities such as CPR and practical exercises to become even better at collaborating in the field.
Punta Espinosa is the only landing site on Galapagos youngest island Fernandina. Here we are extra careful since this island is free from feral animals and plants and this is probably how all the islands looked before man arrived. It is a privilege to visit such a pristine place with such remarkable creatures like the flightless cormorant - the only cormorant without ability to fly. Here we also found the largest gathering of marine iguanas we had seen on this trip. We also snorkeled here before lunch.
Underneath the dramatic cliffs on the northernmost part of Isabela, at the Punta Vicente Roca, we saw sea lions and blue footed boobies fishing for food and laying around on the rocks. In the evening we crossed the equator and celebrated with a toast!
AECO represents cruising industry in new Search and Rescue network.
The cruise industry will collaborate with authorities and researches developing the project Arctic Search and Rescue through participating in a new network of operators and stakeholders that togheter will work for a safe Arctic marine environment. With fundings from EU, the project will run for five years and include a live excersise at sea with cruising ships. As a AECO and ASCAR member, PolarQuest will provide with one of our cruising ships to the planned excersise, something we are very proud of and look forward to do!
The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) is one of 21 interational stakeholders and operators that togheter work to strenghten cooperation and innovation in security and emergency response in the Arctic and the North Atlantic, and the expedition cruise industry welcomes the opportunity to contribute to safe Arctic navigation. The network, called ASCAR, is led by Joint Rescue Coordination Center North-Norway, where Search and Rescue (SAR) will be an important focus area for the project. AECO, which represents the majority of expedition cruise operators that sail in Arctic waters, will work closely with authorities, SAR responders and researchers to determine how SAR preparedness and response can be strengthened and developed.
Frigg Jørgensen, Executive director of AECO, says that passenger ships has an important role in the work for a safe Arctic marine environment. “During Search and Rescue operations in remote parts of the Arctic, expedition cruise ships can be the first to arrive on site. Cruise ships carry food, water, medical supplies, doctors, numerous high speed small vessels and other resources that are useful in SAR operations. Previous tabletop exercises organized by AECO and SAR entities have shown that there is a potential for making better use of these resources. ARCSAR’s planned live exercise will be a valuable opportunity to continue to learn and improve cooperation.”