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Photography by Joe Shutter

Scoresby Sund


Not only is Scoresby Sund the world’s largest fjord complex, it’s also right next door to the biggest reserve on earth: Greenland’s sole national park, which clocks in at a whopping 358,000 square miles. Not surprisingly, this sparsely settled wonderland is known for its Nat Geo–level natural beauty. Most travelers visit when the weather is temperate (so, August) and you can see calving glaciers and sunbathing seals from the comfort of an expedition cruise deck. The sound is a labyrinth of ice that time of year, but its navy-black waters are calm — all the better for spotting narwhal. 

Of special note is gateway village Ittoqqortoormiit, the most isolated hunting and fishing settlement in the Western hemisphere. The average annual temperature in this 350-person hamlet is 16.5°F, making it one of the coldest permanently inhabited places on earth. The town itself comprises a handful of brightly painted buildings (a guesthouse, grocer, pub and post office among them), scattered like flower petals across a rocky coastal bluff. Meeting the Inuit townsfolk — hardcore survivalists that they are — is a highlight of the trip.

How To Get There

In summer, there are typically two weekly flights to Nerlerit Inaat Airport in Sermersooq (one on Norlandair and the other on Air Greenland). From there, you hop a helicopter to nearby Ittoqqortoormiit.

Outfitter To Tap

The easiest way to access Scoresby Sund is on a small expedition ship. Passengers on Silversea’s Silver Wind spend half a day checking out Ittoqqortoormiit and four days exploring the fjords by sea kayak. The 15-day itinerary from Reykjavík also covers Greenland’s national park and Norway’s Jan Mayen island.

Good To Know

Sea ice prevents cruise vessels from reaching Ittoqqortoormiit nine months of the year, but if you can finagle a flight, you can explore the sound beyond summer. A willingness to rough the brutally cold tundra is your best shot at spotting the Northern Lights and polar bears.

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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