Exploring East Greenland: Introduction at Warming Island


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“If conditions are favourable, we will attempt a pre-breakfast zodiac cruise. I will wake you at 5am”.

Our expedition leader’s announcement of the next day’s plan is met with a predictable gasp of dread from a small number of passengers who are mentally weighing up the pros and cons of such an early start. For everyone else however, it is a welcome distraction from the rough sea that has seen most of us cabin-bound for the first full day of our adventure. We are anxious to get off the ship and excited to start exploring the destination we have all come to see.

East Greenland.

I feel energised by the anticipation of the journey that lies ahead of me and as I look around, I realise I am not alone. The mood in the room has lifted – along with the winds that have accompanied our journey through the Denmark Strait and Greenland Sea.

Conversations are flowing naturally between random strangers who only met the day before and the inevitable “where are you from and what do you do for a living” questions begin. Replying with “I work in finance” is a guaranteed conversation stopper and as I watch faces glaze over with disinterest, I comfort myself with the knowledge that it won’t be long before glaciers, northern lights and icebergs dominate our dinner-time chats.

The last thought I have before the swell of the sea lulls me into sleep that evening, is the reminder of one of the things I love most about travel: its ability to eliminate the background and lifestyle differences that would normally prevent strangers paths from crossing. Although the 58 passengers on the ship come from different backgrounds, we are united in our interest in East Greenland, a general sense of adventure and the hope that our first excursion goes ahead as planned the next morning,

It does.

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Despite the conditions being deemed “favourable”, the morning begins with grey skies and as I step into the zodiac, I pull up the hood of my jacket to shield my face from the light rain and cold wind. It doesn’t detract from my excitement though, as I take in my surroundings.

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We are cruising in a strait of water that separates the W shaped Warming Island from Liverpool land, 550 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle on the east coast of Greenland. The island was only recognised as such in 2005 when it was discovered that retreating ice shelves had detached it from the mainland. The disappearing glacial ice has gained the interest of both climate change advocates and sceptics, but as the morning light breaks through the clouds and the rain stops, I am selfishly grateful for the opportunity to be introduced to Greenland alongside glaciers and icebergs in such a dramatic setting.

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Wild, remote and rugged: deep within the Arctic wilderness, home to a rich Inuit culture and fascinating history; land of the midnight sun and northern lights; the world’s largest island with 80% of its land covered by an ice cap – this is Greenland.

And I can’t wait to see more of it.

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(can you spot the zodiacs in the bottom right side of the photo – these help create a sense of scale of the island)

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(can you spot the zodiacs to the left of the large iceberg – these help create a sense of scale of the island)

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I returned in early September from an incredible journey through the spectacular fjords of East Greenland, treated to exceptional weather conditions, northern lights and diverse and dramatic landscapes. I look forward to sharing more photos and stories from this journey with you in coming weeks, so stay tuned – and check out more Greenland posts here.


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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at www.kellienetherwoodphotography.com


  1. Thank you for sharing this! Greenland looks so surreal. I don’t see too many photos and explorations of Greenland. Looking forward to checking out your other posts!

    • I’m looking forward to sharing them with you. I also couldn’t find too many photos and stories about travels in Greenland before I went – I think this is going to change though as people are starting to realise its an incredible destination to visit.

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