When the great explorers and researchers set out on their journeys in the golden age of polar exploration, did they have adventure and excitement in mind? And how did they start their adventures into unexplored and unknown regions?
Sunshine, hardly any wind and icebergs everywhere, lying on the coast of South Greenland in the morning fog in front of us: a paradisiacal and peaceful sight awaiting me on the second day of our trip. Hm, actually the journey is called “South Greenland Adventure”? Shouldn’t there be wind and waves crossing our paths, people standing tensely in front of the windows, wondering how strong the storm outside might be? Perhaps adventures begin calmly and unagitatedly, I think to myself as I enjoy a sip of my freshly made cappuccino and sit down in the soft armchair in the Ultramarine’s panorama lounge.
Outside, another iceberg drifts by, reminding me of the Sphinx in Egypt, soft classical sounds emanate from the loudspeaker, and I’m pleased with how well I slept in my cabin, barely hearing any sounds of engines or other ship noises. Expedition travel in the 21st century, even if it’s for adventure, can also be done in style. And that’s a tradition. After all, polar explorers such as Charcot, de Gerlache, Nansen and many other great explorers, did not do without the comforts of (then) technical development during their journeys. Good and healthy food has always been an important aspect of polar voyages. And physical exercise was and is as well. Maybe they would have installed a fitness room on their ships, like we and many other new ships did. Well, the spa might have been a bit too much of a good thing back then. But here it is included, but whether it will be used in the program that we have planned is another question.
But how do you start an adventure? First of all, with a lot of information in the form of briefings about the way you plan to operate. Because being well informed reduces many risks and dangers that can arise during an adventure. And at the same time, you get to know the other people on board. Meanwhile, our ship turns into the Prins Christian Sound to shorten the way to Southeast Greenland. Here we also want to start our first activity, a landing at a glacier and for others some kayaking. All in the midst of high mountain peaks, reflected in the smooth water in the brilliant sunlight. An “adventure light” start I think to myself, because the sound is on the program of many providers. But the landing is more exciting than I thought. Because the hike to the glacier tongue, which looks a bit like the Aletsch glacier, goes over impassable terrain, over end moraine blocks, along a rushing river. Everywhere we are greeted by bellflowers and Greenland’s national flower Niviarsiaq, the arctic willowherb. Surprisingly, we also have to fight millions of mosquitoes and flies, which pounce on everything that exhales carbon dioxide. Good for the one who brought a net that can be put over the head. Fortunately, Quark thinks of this and sends a guide with a net to the various groups. So at least the way back can be started without a fight. And after returning, a shower, a cool drink and more delicious food are waiting for us. Maybe adventures really start calmly and unexcited. But what is yet to come is revealed at the end of the day when the helicopters are presented, shrouded in soft evening light. They are the centerpiece of the activities planned for the coming days. But more on that tomorrow.
Dr. Michael Wenger, PolarJournal
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