I was in Ilulissat, Greenland.
We had been in Greenland for 3 days, hiking and running on the Polar Ice Cap in Kangerlussuaq, then hopped on a small plane to Ilulissat. We landed in a snow squall, gathered our luggage, and boarded the bus for town. The snow obscured the view so there wasn’t much to see.
We were settling in to our hotel room, when the sky cleared, and out of our floor to ceiling window I saw this:
That iceberg! right there, on the edge of town! It was such an impossible, sight, to imagine people living every day, going about their business with that view!
Ilulissat sits on the edge of Disko Bay, at the mouth of the world’s most active glacier, Sermeq Kujalleq. The bay is a mesmerizing sight at any time of day, dotted with towering icebergs and tiny fishing boats.
The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there are a number of ways to explore the ice.
We chose a boat ride our first day. It was exhilarating. Zipping across the water in the open air with temps in the 20’s, wind blowing, and surrounded by the most otherworldly landscape of mountains sculpted of ice.
The next day we hiked. There is a boardwalk along the bay, a lovely walk showcasing the icebergs and the landscape. We continued on past the boardwalk to make a 13 mile loop along the coast, over a ridge and back into town via the “dog area”. This is where sled dogs are kept. NO dogs are allowed in town.
But you don’t need a special excursion to see the icebergs. They are always right there, at the edge of town, and they change with the light from morning to sunset. I never tired of looking out into the bay, taking pictures and seeing how the ice changed colors as the winter sun skirted low in the sky.
The town is charming, and has plenty to see and do. Since it was approaching winter, some things were closed, but there are shops, restaurants and a couple of interesting museums. I enjoyed being there in November, to experience the short, cold days, and long, starry nights. Roads, sidewalks and parking lots are snow and ice covered. I loved that there was no “treating” of surfaces. The attitude seemed to be “yea, it’s frozen, be careful”, and I liked the assumption that a little caution was what was needed, not an elimination of all possible risk.
It’s an extreme environment, it’s hard to get there, and harder to live there. But what a priceless gift to be there, and see a place unlike any place else. We talked to people who had left and returned, and said they weren’t happy any where else. The icebergs were home.