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A voyage to Kullorsuaq

chasseur-inuit-chiens-Kullorsuaq

Get to know the last hunters of north-west Greenland

PONANT is strengthening its ties with Greenland to come up with a totally new travel experience through the ice aboard Le Commandant Charcot. Expert polar explorer and co-founder of SEDNA Nicolas Dubreuil accompanied our teams as they scouted out the isolated region of Kullorsuaq and met the local Inuit communities. Here is what they found on their deeply personal adventure.

 

 An experience co-created with Nicolas Dubreuil, an explorer with expertise in Greenland

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Travelling 1,000 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle to the icy shores of Kullorsuaq in March, with temperatures hovering around -40°C, is a genuine adventure. This was the challenge taken up by José Sarica, expedition experiences director at PONANT, and Mathieu Tinsigrilaras, second captain of the PONANT fleet. However, they would never have been able to achieve their goal without the expertise and experience of Nicolas Dubreuil, a polar explorer, co-founder of SEDNA and former PONANT expedition leader, who over the years has forged strong links with the inhabitants of this remote region in the far north-west of Greenland.

 

“Silarsuaq sikullu kisimi naagalavoq”

(The only masters are time and ice)

This is the Greenlandic saying that Nicolas Dubreuil adopted after being rescued from icy waters by an Inuit from Baffin Bay.

Kullorsuaq: a traditional Inuit village on the edge of Greenland

  • Kullorsuaq is the most northerly island in the Upernavik archipelago (at a latitude of more than 74°).
  • Its average temperature is below zero for nine months of the year.
  • Access to the village by air is very limited due to weather conditions.
  • The inhabitants’ way of life retains many of their Inuit traditions, with hunting and fishing providing a large part of their livelihood, and dog sleds offering the main mode of transport.
  • The village is located in one of the oldest areas of human settlement in the Arctic, as its first inhabitants arrived there in the second millennium BC.
  • The current settlement dates fromthe early 20th century. The ancestors of today’s inhabitants came from various parts of West Greenland.

An immersive taste of Inuit culture in Kullorsuaq

 
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After an epic journey across the ice from Upernavik to Kullorsuaq via Apilatok, the PONANT team was warmly welcomed by a group of waiting Inuit hunters. It was with these hunters that José, Mathieu and Nicolas came up with and tested some of the immersive experiences they could offer PONANT’s voyagers. These included a polar dog sledding trek and a night on the ice floe, wildlife watching, ice diving, snorkelling in the middle of the ice in a wetsuit, hiking and snowshoeing, traditional kayaking and overnight stays with local people. Each one of these activities would give travellers a deep sense of the Inuit people’s ancestral culture, combining the chance to see stunning glacial landscapes with meaningful personal encounters.

“It there is one word which sums up the trip, it’s “Imaqa“. The Inuit use it while motioning as if to say “perhaps”, and it means “let things happen, let nature take its course“. Their resilience and sense of acceptance profoundly change everyone who comes into contact with them, and you don’t come back from Kullorsuaq quite the same person you were before.”

José Sarica

North-west Greenland: a sumptuous landscape

 
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Baffin Bay and the surrounding coastline are home to some exceptional wildlife, including seals, narwhals, whales, belugas and polar bears, but the tend to be hard to spot because they are still hunted. People travel to Greenland first and foremost for the sumptuous beauty of its ice-covered landscapes, encompassing ice floes and icebergs, and for the wonderful local residents they meet there.

The photographer who came along on the scouting mission, Julien Fabro, has captured the beauty of these scenes and the people of Kullorsuaq. With his photos, he shares a moving account of this very special experience with the Inuit hunters who guided the scouts through an immense polar landscape.

Discover the exclusive report from the PONANT team’s immersive experience in Kullorsuaq with Nicolas Dubreuil:

Photo and video credits: ©PONANT/Julien Fabro

Photo Groenland village banquise

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Experience life in Greenland

 

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