Greenland East Coast Expedition Report September 2022

In early September of 2022, I helped guide a photographic expedition to Scoresby Sund on the East Coast of Greenland aboard the Swedish ship, M.S Freya. Scoresby Sund is the largest fjord system in the world and in my experience, offers some of the best landscapes to be found anywhere on the planet. This was not an expedition I organized and was instead aboard, by invitation, as an assistant guide. This freed up some of my time and provided me some additional opportunities for photography – for which I was very grateful.

It has been two and a half years since I was last in Greenland (in March of 2020 just as COVID was hitting – Read the Trip Report) and I had been very much looking forward to returning to this other-worldly remote island. The East coast of Greenland is best known for its rugged and wild landscape and its monumental, transient icebergs; which are, without a shadow-of-doubt, the most impressive on earth. In my many years of polar photography in both the north and south poles, I have not laid eyes on icebergs that are more awe-inspiring than those that silently drift through the Scoresby fjord system.

During the expedition, we were fortunate to encounter fog on multiple occasions whilst cruising through the fjord system. This was the first time in all my many expeditions to Greenland that I have experienced significant and persistent fog around the icebergs. Fog and icebergs go extremely well together and the combination provided many wonderful and dramatic photographic opportunities. Especially when the sun could be seen burning through the fog and casting its golden glow across the fog and ice. Over the years I have been fortunate to see and photograph a great many icebergs. This expedition, with its fog, and low-angle sun provided some of the very best opportunities I have yet experienced.

During the expedition, we also had a very remarkable total of eight Polar Bears; all of which we found in Vikingbukt. The East coast of Greenland is not somewhere you normally expect to encounter Polar Bears, let alone a ‘celebration’ of them. In all my many expeditions to Greenland, I cannot recall ever encountering more than one or two Polar Bears on a given trip, and on many expeditions there are no encounters. Although many of the bears were high up on the moraine slopes deep in the fjord we were fortunate to have a very close encounter with one of the bears (that had recently killed a seal) on blue ice in front of the main glacier. This was a very special encounter that occurred on our first full day in Greenland.

Other wildlife we encountered and photographed included Gyr Falcon, Glaucous Gulls, Red-Throated Divers, Pink Footed Geese, Musk Ox, Rock Ptarmigan (although I was the only one to see and photograph this species), and Snow Buntings. Several seals were also spotted, although we were not close enough for positive identification of the species. Despite a concerted effort, we did not see any Narwhal. Narwhal have proved elusive on all but one of my Greenland expeditions. Even then, they were at significant distance and the photographic opportunities were fleeting and limited.

This photography courtesy: Helen Stewart

Footnote: As a result of my ongoing travel, I have not as yet had time to edit or post produce any of the photographs from this expedition. I will update this post at a future date with photographs from the expedition. In the meantime, and just for the fun – some video from the expedition below. We had an opportunity when the sun was super bright during the middle of the day to re-purpose a zodiac and spend some time water skiing between the giant icebergs – the lighter side of a photographic expedition. The water temperature was around 2-3º Celsius.

My next expedition to the East Coast of Greenland is in just a few days with a Sold Out landscape workshop to the South-east coast; followed by a subsequent ship-based expedition back to Scoresby Sund at the end of the month. Following this, my next expedition will be in September of 2023; which is long Sold Out. The first expedition with openings and availabilty is now September 2024. At this time of the year, the sun is low in the sky, and the landscape is bathed in golden light. There are still several places available on the expedition before it will be sold out. Please drop me an email for more information, or to secure your place.

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