Adventures of the Vinland Saga

The Vinland Saga Adventure

from $10,228 per person

Sail in the wake of the Norse settlers. See the untouched wilderness they inhabited and the fascinating remains from the Viking era

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  • Sail in the wake of Norse settlers
  • Experience Iceland, Greenland, and Canada in one expedition
  • Learn more about Norse/Viking history and see fascinating archaeological sites
  • Exciting excursions, both with and without a Viking theme

Between 800 and 1000 A.D., the feared and fabled Vikings carried out a number of expeditions to explore the North Atlantic Ocean. It is thought that they set out to colonize new lands as a result of population pressures and political unrest in their homeland. The Vikings were able to explore so extensively thanks to their remarkable longships, which allowed them to travel long distances across rough oceans and through stormy weather. They were also exceptional navigators, relying only on simple maps and using the position of the sun and stars when in open water.

Accidental Discoveries

Ironically, the Vikings’ most significant discoveries were often made when they lost their way during storms. According to the sagas, Iceland was discovered when a Viking named Naddodd was blown off course. Greenland was discovered in much the same way, when Gunnbjörn Ulfsson was traveling from Norway to Iceland and lost his way. One of the Vikings’ greatest achievements in terms of exploration was the sighting of North America. Bjarni Herjólfsson accomplished this in 985 A.D., when he lost his way during a storm and spotted an unknown land of forests and lush meadows.

We know about these discoveries thanks to the Viking sagas. Although for a long time the Norse colonization of America was just a myth, in 1960, archaeological finds in North America confirmed that there was indeed some truth to the stories. This expedition is a journey in the wake of the Viking settlers that left to find a better land. Starting in Iceland, we sail to the Norse heart of Greenland and continue to North America, following the route described in the Vinland Sagas. As you would expect, there will be a lot of Viking history, but you will also get the chance to see places of astonishing natural beauty, participate in exciting excursions and see the vast wilderness of the Arctic.

Voyage Itinerary

 

Day 1:Reykjavik, Iceland

The Vikings were the first people to permanently settle in Iceland. According to the Book of Settlements (Landnámabók), Ingólfur Arnarson settled here around 870 A.D. He named the place after the steam from the hot springs in the area: Reykjarvík (bay of smoke). Iceland’s modern capital is the starting point of this expedition.

Day 2:Snæfellsjökull National Park

The Snæfellsjökull National Park has many famous sites, and the magnificent Snæfellsjökull Glacier is one of the highlights. Other attractions include basalt cliffs and the many fascinating lava formations. At Djúpalónssandur, you can test your ‘Viking strength’ on the four ‘lifting stones’: Amlóði (Useless), Hálfdrættingur (Weakling), Hálfsterkur (Half Strength), and Fullsterkur (Full Strength).

Day 3:At Sea

Rather than rowing a longship across the Denmark Strait to reach Greenland, we’ll sail in the modern and very comfortable MS Spitsbergen. Our lectures will prepare you for your experience in Greenland.

Day 4:At Sea

Greenland’s southern shores contain some of the most culturally and scenically diverse regions on this giant island. Conditions permitting, we will try to sail through the narrow, 70-mile-long channel Prins Christian Sund, which crosses the southernmost point of Greenland, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. If the channel is blocked with ice, we will sail around Nunap Isua (Cape Farewell).

Day 5:South Greenland

Qassiarsuk is the site where Erik the Red built his Brattahlíð estate in 982 A.D. He had been banished from Iceland and escaped to the land he called Greenland. He chose to settle in Qassiarsuk, believing it to be the richest and best site in on the island. Join the settlement walk to explore the reconstruction of Erik the Red’s longhouse and the church that Erik the Red named after his wife, Tjodhildur Church.

Day 6:South Greenland

Igaliku is home to the well-known ruins of Garðar, once the religious heart of Norse Greenland. In Hvalsey, you’ll find some of the best-preserved ruins from the Norse period in the former town of Austurbygd. Erik the Red’s relatives established the farmstead in the late 10th century. In 1408, 500 years after the town was established, all the inhabitants suddenly left. Among the ruins, you’ll find the remains of the church where the last known Viking wedding took place.

Day 7:At Sea

As we cross the ocean again, you will have plenty of time to imagine how it must have felt to cross an ocean more than 1,000 years ago. According to The Saga of the Greenlanders, Leif Erikson (son of Erik the Red) set out in the year 1002 or 1003 A.D. and the first land he found to the west was covered with flat rocks, so he called it Helluland, the land of flat stones (From Old Norse: hella).

Day 8:'Markland'/Labrador, Canada

After Helluland, Leif Erikson arrived at a land that was flat and wooded with white sandy beaches, which he called Markland (‘Forest Land’). Today, this area is known as Labrador.

Day 9:'Markland'/Labrador

We will explore Labrador, making several explorer-style landings to discover more of the area’s astonishing nature and wildlife.

Day 10:'Markland'/Labrador

While we are here, outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy hiking along the trails and the countless miles of wilderness to explore, while others will appreciate learning more about the history, cultures, and traditions of the area at the numerous historic sites we will visit.

Day 11:At Sea

Enjoy a day at sea. There will be lectures on various topics, or you can spend some time on deck enjoying the wildlife we’ll see on our journey.

Day 12:L'anse Aux Meadows, Newfoundland

In L’Anse aux Meadows, you’ll see the first known evidence of the Vikings settling on the American continent.This is probably where Thorfinn Karlsefni and several others settled in 1010 A.D. In 1960, two Norwegian archaeologists started excavating in this area and discovered the fascinating remains of a Viking camp. In 1979, L’Anse aux Meadows became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the recreated camp, you can see original artifacts from this internationally renowned archaeological find.

Day 13:'Vinland'/Newfoundland

According to the sagas, the Viking settlement Hóp was considered to be the ‘land of grapes and wheat’. When Leif Erikson discovered it, he called the place Vinland (Wineland). This is where the Norse settlers first encountered ‘Skrælings’, the indigenous people. They started trading with the ‘Skrælings’, but after a brutal attack, the frightened Norse abandoned this lush land to go back to the north.

Day 14:'Vinland'/Newfoundland

With its tiny seaside communities, encompassing forests, freshwater fjords, bogs, barren lowlands, and striking cliffs and shorelines, this area is world-renowned for its complex geology. Even the wildlife is amazing. With some 10,000 humpback whales visiting the area every year, you’d be hard-pressed to take a simple picture from deck without inadvertently capturing a whale as well.

Day 15:St. Johns, Newfoundland

St. John’s is the oldest and easternmost city in North America. This is where our Vinland Saga Adventure ends. We recommend that you explore this historic town, with its striking twin clock towers of the Basilica of St. John the Baptist and excellent shopping before you fly home.