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A two hour flight from Iqaluit brought us to western Greenland. It looked very much like the lake pocked barren tundra of northern Quebec.
Those who were hoping to have a good look at the Greenland ice cap barely got a glimpse of a thin white line on the horizon through the plane's portholes. I was disappointed that the charter did not include an extra half hour to show us more of that enormous 3000 meter thick mass of ice that is larger than France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal combined. After all, that's what Greenland is all about!
Kangerlussuaq is well inland, at the end of a 100 km fjord less than 10 minutes flying time from the ice cap.
Upon deplaning, we boarded this all terrain vehicle and yellow school busses to climb the nearby hills in the hope of seeing musk oxen.
Kangerlussuaq was built as a military air field in October 1941 after the German occupation of Denmark. It was the main refuelling station for bombers and cargo planes flying between America and Europe during W.W. II. Up to 8000 military personnel were stationed here.
During the Cold War, it served as supply base for Distant Early Warning (DEW) line stations and was returned to Danish control only in 1992.
We did see a half dozen musk oxen but the were too far to photograph. The view from the top of the hill where we stopped was stupendous from the town on Watson river on the left of this 180 panorama to the right where some passengers are looking at a few musk oxen more than a kilometre away on the other side of a small lake. It's not surprising that the total population of this huge island is only 56 000 when you seen how barren the ice free coastal rim really is.
After the local sightseeing tour, we boarded the Orlova and started our voyage down Kangerlussuaq fjord without delay.
The U shape of the water filled valley indicates that it was gouged out by a moving glacier in geological times (river cut valleys are V shaped).
The pale green glacier water was a rare sight and the views became more and more spectacular as the fjord narrowed for the last 50 km before reaching the sea.
Several small glaciers gouging their way through the fjord rim added their green melt water along the way.
This one has retreated some distance from the fjord, leaving behind moraines of ground up rocks torn out of its path.
Encroaching sea water changes the colour of the fjord as we approach the outlet.
Davis Strait is only a short way on the other side of this last high cliff.
Here is the last little bit of fjord before the open sea.
By now it was late evening, it had been a well filled day and we all turned in for our first night aboard the Orlova.
I had enjoyed a four bunk cabin all to myself on the Antarctica cruise last winter but this time I shared a same sized cabin with another passenger, Tom Fegyveresi, with whom I got along marvelously. We fortunately had very similar views in many areas, the economy, politics, international affairs and religion.