With a loud crack and a rumble, the iceberg offshore splits in half, the sound exploding through the Arctic summer night. In the otherwise perfect silence, it reminds us how isolated we are at Natural Habitat Adventure’s remote Base Camp Greenland, a few miles south of the Arctic Circle.Three times the size of Texas, Greenland is enormous, divided in half by the two-mile thick, 2.5 million-year-old Greenland Ice Cap, which covers 80 percent of the island.
The capital, Nuuk, and most of the population are located on the western side. We are based on the eastern side, virtually uninhabited except for a handful of small, subsistence-based Inuit communities, cut off from the rest of the world for eight months a year. The only way to reach this remote, isolated wilderness in the summer is by boat or helicopter.
The journey is arduous. Our 75-minute flight from Reykjavik, Iceland lands on a gravel runway at Kulusuk in Eastern Greenland. From here, a 10-minute helicopter ride over jagged peaks and vast fjords filled with icebergs takes us to Ammassalik Island and the picturesque town of Tasiilaq, with its brightly painted wooden houses hugging King Oscar’s Fjord.
Base Camp is on the northern side of Ammassalik Island, reachable only by a small red and white wooden boat, wending its way through fjords filled with ice beneath soaring 5,000-foot unnamed peaks.
After a journey of about four hours, we reach a sheltered bay off Sermilik Fjord near the Inuit hamlet of Tinit (short for Tiniteqilaaq). Few places in the world are as remote and pristine as this.
As our boat rounds a point, Eric, one of our two guides for this expedition, calls us to the side. “If you look just beyond that blue iceberg over there, you can see Base Camp.”
He is pointing to a rocky glacial valley surrounded on either side by mountains, still pockmarked with snow, even though it’s August. It’s several minutes before we’re able to pick out the tent cabins (affectionately known as “tabins”) that will be our home for the next several days.