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Sail the Arctic Seas: ‘Dream Trip’ Includes Fjords, Whales, Polar Bears, and More

Grab the rigging and haul up the sails. You’re about to embark on a trip to one of the most remote places on the planet: Greenland.

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Editor’s note: GearJunkie’s “Dream Trips” series is a partnership with 57hours that looks at unique, once-in-a-lifetime adventure itineraries from guides and outfitters around the planet.

As destinations go, Greenland is top of mind for anyone seeking an ends-of-the-Earth type of experience. For 2023, Boreal Adventure Sailing is booking trips to explore the country’s remote eastern shore.

It begins in the town of Kulusuk, home to the world’s “smallest international airport.” The 10-day trips with Boreal offer a choose-your-adventure itinerary where you sail and explore with a small crew and certified guides.

Greenland sailing
(Photo/Boreal Adventures)

Mountains and icebergs dominate the view as the boat cuts north. Trip-goers can expect to travel with professionals like Andres Scherrer and Paul Degonda (certified IFMGA guides).

The unique part about this trip? Each day is a new adventure. There is no set itinerary, and guests, guides, and crew can choose whether to sail, hike, fish, climb a peak, or explore sites on land each day.

The Boat: Sloop on the Seas

The boat, named Varuna, is a 73-foot vessel made for sailing Arctic waters. Nine bunks, a dining room, a kitchen, toilets, showers, and gathering spaces below deck provide a roving habitat on the northern seas.

sailing greenland
Aboard the Varuna; (photo/Boreal Adventures)

The aluminum sloop was built for Arctic waters. Its shallow draft can reach most protected anchorages, including small inlets where you disembark to explore. In 2020, the Varuna was upgraded with a protected and heated “saloon” on the deck for 360-degree views.

Skipper Lionel Lemonchois is the co-founder of Boreal and a professional sailor. He has competed in oceanic races around the world and is certified as an offshore commercial yacht master.

You live on the boat for the whole trip. Each day offers a chance to contribute to the adventure, tracing a map, talking to Lemonchois and the crew, and exploring the eastern shoreline of the world’s largest island.

It’s summer in Greenland, but the weather and waves are fickle at these high latitudes. Temps are often in the 40s (F), though “the generally dry air makes it milder than you may expect,” the guide company notes.

The Itinerary: Fjords, Polar Bears, and More

From the departure point in Kulusuk, Greenland, the route heads into the Sermilik and Ammassalik fjords. Here, travelers sail through slate-blue waters scattered with icebergs. Northern Lights are common at night.

The region is famous for its wildlife — whales, polar bears, muskoxen, narwhals, and arctic foxes are often spotted from the boat and on land. Further beyond, Northeast Greenland National Park is the world’s largest national park, stretching wild for hundreds of miles toward the North Pole.

Tracking the local wildlife in Greenland; (photo/Boreal Adventures)

For 2023, the “Sailing and Exploring Adventure in Greenland” trip will run from June to September. The company limits trips to six guests to provide “an intimate and custom experience” to discover this remote region few will ever see.

While Boreal brackets the trip as a beginner-friendly adventure, you should be comfortable hiking onshore on uneven (trail-less) terrain. One important consideration, given Greenland’s remote location and limited healthcare infrastructure, Boreal requires “good health” for participants.

The company notes, “It can be a costly and timely affair to transport you to a hospital in Greenland if you become ill.”

As far as gear goes, Boreal provides a packing list. You’ll want to gear up with a comfortable day pack, layers, a hooded waterproof jacket, boots or hiking shoes, mosquito repellent, lip balm, and other essentials. (The full gear list is available here.)

Sailing and Exploring Adventure in Greenland

  • The trip: Sailing and multisport adventure (hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, exploring)
  • Guide: Boreal Adventure Sailing
  • Dates: June-Sept. (various dates)
  • Cost: $7,690 per person
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Included: All meals and accommodations aboard the Varuna; water- and shore-guided adventures
  • Learn more: 57hours.com
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