Europe, Greenland

Greenland: A Magic White Arctic World

Europe Greenland

After our road trip through Iceland, we took a flight from Reykjavik to Ilulissat on Greenland’s west-coast and situated above the Arctic Circle.  During summer, there is 24-hours of daylight, and the further north you go, the longer this period of light lasts. We stayed 5 days in the town of Ilulissat and from there, we made a few trips by boat and a hike in the neighborhood.  For our standards, I should never call Ilulissat a town; it is more like a small village. Only 4,500 residents live there and 3,000 sledge dogs.  Greenland is not a sovereign country.  It belongs politically to Denmark.

After our stay ,we were completely blown away by the majestic nature of Ilulissat and the environment.  Most popular is Ilulissat because of it’s location at the Ice Fjord that is added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2004. The fjord is 56 km – 35 mi long and is filled with enormous floating icebergs in all different shapes from the active glacier, Sermeq Kujalleq. From the mouth of the ice fjord, the huge icebergs are stranded while floating further into the Disko Bay.

On our first evening, we boarded for a midnight cruise in the Disko Bay and we sailed between the huge icebergs,  shined on by the midnight sun. The cruise started at 10 pm and lasts 2 hours.  In that magic light of the sun, the ice was getting an orange, purple and violet glow what gave the environment the atmosphere of a fairytale. Never before have landscapes left a bigger impression on me than the floating icebergs in the Disko Bay.  This was absolutely one of our most impressive moments on our Greenland trip!

Another boat trip we took was a whale-whatching safari.  No one can ever guarantee that it is 100% sure you will see these fantastic sea-mammals. This is not a zoo but, there is a good chance you will see some in the bay around Ilulissat. They are protected and very trusting so they can often be enjoyed at close range.  The waters of the bay are rich in plankton and the fjord water is mixed with ocean water. This is why whales love this place for foraging.  We were very lucky that day because we saw three Humpback whales very close up! They came along the boat and it gave us the opportunity to take some nice pictures. A very impressing wildlife-encounter was had by all.

80km – 44 mi further to the north from Ilulissat was the destination of our next boat trip; the calving glacier of Eqip Sermia. In fact, it is due to the climate change that people can experience the calving of the glacier; what I can describe as the sound of an explosion.  You can immediately locate the the place due to the sound and you can see also large pieces of ice falling in the ocean.  When we reached the glacier, the engine was turned off and for half an hour, we could enjoy all this natural beauty in silence.  Only from time to time were we interrupted by the sound of breaking ice. It was magic and so nice to see but as I said, it is not a positive evolution because it is caused by global warming! It is so sad that maybe within 50 or 100 years all this beauty could be gone! On the way back, the boat passed the settlement of Ataa and we stopped for a lunch. We ate a stew of whale-meat and it was delicious. The meat looked like beef and=the taste is almost the same.

On our last day, we made a hike to Sermermiut, a fertile valley next to the ice fjord where traces from the old Inuit cultures can still be seen. The hike up the hills gave us fantastic views over the icebergs. Even more than Iceland, Greenland has impressed us within these 5 days.  The magic of this arctic world is something I will never forget!