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Follow my trip around West and South Greenland (press the picture to get the full size)

Greenland guide

Picture 1 Ilulissat
Picture 2 Ilulissat
Picture 3 Around Ilulissat
Picture 4
Ice in the midnight sun
Picture 5
Ice in the midnight sun
Picture 6
Hike around Ilulissat

Picture 7
Hike around Ilulissat

Picture 8
Dog sledding
Picture 9
Glacier in Disko Bay
Picture 10 Disko Bay
Picture 11 Whales in Disko Bay
Picture 11a Nuuk
Picture 12
Picture 13
Picture 14 Narsaq
Picture 15 Qassiarsuk
Picture 16
Picture 17
Picture 18 Glacier at Narsarsuaq
Dan Rotork
Dan Rotork

Disko Bay
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  Ilulissat on the west coast just opposite Disko Island is the third biggest town on Greenland. With a population of 4000, Ilulissat is a big city. On a clear day the mighty 30 kilometre long and 8 kilometre wide Ilulissat Ice Fjord can be seen from the airplane bringing you from the International Airport Kangerlussuaq. Ilulissat is named after the Ice Fjord that is covered with huge icebergs all year around. The icebergs calve from on of the worlds largest glacier located in the bottom of the fjord. This glacier produces 20 million cubic metre of ice every day, which is equivalent to New York's water consumption every year.

  I stayed in Ilulissat 12 days from the 15th to the 27th of June 2000. Having travelled in the south of Greenland 2 years earlier I decided to see a bit more of this huge and unspoiled Island. After Ilulissat I was amazed. The area around Disko Bay is beautiful with the huge icebergs, small remote settlements, desolated mountains, amazing whales and friendly people.

  Below you can read about my experience in Disko Bay and the south of Greenland. Greenland is not a cheap country to travel so do not use this as the ultimate guide. Use it to give you an idea of what Disko Bay can offer you. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or just what a chat about Greenland.

  After having found the Youth Hostel I went on a helicopter trip along the Ilulissat Ice Fjord to the glacier. The helicopter landed on the edge of the cliff about 100 meters above the glacier. From here there was an excellent view over the 8 kilometres wide and 200 meter high glacier. Because of the distance and while the Ice Fjord was completely packed with ice, it was not possible to actually see any calving, but huge bangs indicated that the glacier was moving. From the view point the inland ice could be seen clearly.

  On the way back the pilot flew low over the packed Ice Fjord where seals was laying on the ice sunbathing. Flying along some of the icebergs higher than 150 metres and several 100 metres long was a great experience.

  Returning from the trip the pilot circulated around Ilulissat. 2 huge icebergs where drifting round the access to the harbour ( picture 1). Just before landing in the airport one could see the end of the Ice Fjord just next to the city ( picture 2).

  Next day I went on a day hike along the Ice Fjord. 10 minutes walk from the city the end of the fjord and be enjoyed ( picture 3). Here will all the icebergs from the fjord be stranded until the pressure from the back is to high and the ice will calve again. While only 10 percent on an iceberg is above the water some of the icebergs in the fjord is more than 700 metres deep and scratch the bottom. During time sand have been pulled from the fjord to the sea and here is the water only a few 100 metres and act like a plug.

  The glacier at Ilulissat Ice Fjord cannot be experienced from very close, as the fjord does not allow access with a boat. Instead a boat trip 100 kilometres further north, up to a glacier called Eqip Sermia is a great full day tour. Here is it possible to watch a huge glacier calve at close hand and if the weather is nice it is fantastic to having you lunch on the boat, watching the glacier next to you. If the ice allows it the boat will sail you into Port Victor, an old France expedition hut placed shore and very close the Eqip.

  As Ilulissat is located well above the artic circle the sun never goes down in the summer months. To sail in the midnight sun around the huge icebergs that have detached from the Ice Fjord is a stunning experience ( picture 4). The colour in the ice changes while the sun hits north and if the weather is perfect the trip can be spectacular ( picture 5).

  The tourist organisations in Ilulissat have huts placed around in the mountains that can be used for tourists. I went on a 2 days hike to one of the huts near Ilulissat. The trip started in Oqaatsut or Oqaatsut, a tiny settlement 20 kilometres north from Ilulissat. On Greenland no signs or prepared tracks can be followed and the only guide is a map in 1:100.000 and a compass. Just remember that the Disko Bay area have a 40 degree misleading due to the magnetic north pole. Finding the hut was therefore a great experience. The ground was combined rock and tundra. The tundra was hard to walk and the average speed was less than 2 kilometres pr. hour. But the scenery was picturesque with crystal blue water and with Disko Island in the horizon ( picture 6).

  After 8 hours of concentrated walk, my Australian travel companion and I finally found the "himmelhytten", a hut with bunks, gas stove and dry closet. The hut was placed on the edge of a peninsula out in the middle of a big lake surrounded by high mountains. Here the water was fresh and ice cold as it was still ice on the lake.

  Next day started early, as we had to hit Ilulissat again during the afternoon. The day started beautiful and even with sore shoulders and legs it was a great day. Early in the morning there was no wind and the mountains mirrored in the small lakes that was not covered by ice ( picture 7). As the highest vegetations are less than 10 centimetres it can be pretty windy.

  After a half-day of walk we had to pass a 12 metre wide river 50 centimetres deep. At this time a year the river is pretty rough due to the melting snow from the inland ice. Under normal conditions the river could be passed jumping from rock to rock. But this day we had to remove our boots and carefully cross the icy water bare footed.

  Next day I went on a helicopter trip to Disko Island for dog sledging. During summer the only place to dog sledge is on the glacier on Disko Island. It had just fallen a metre of new snow the day I went for dog sledging. As the weather was perfect with blue sky, no wind, the white fluffy snow and fresh, willing dogs this was the ultimately experience. It was great sitting of a sledge watching these amazing dogs, enjoying the silence and beauty of the endless whiteness and feel the wind in the face ( picture 8).

  On the way back from Disko Island the pilot flew along the Island up north and crossed over to the Eqip Sermia glacier, which I then saw again from above ( picture 9).

  Next day I went on a boat trip to a tiny settlement Ilimanaq 20 kilometre from Ilulissat. This settlement is one of the oldest in the region and also one of the best functioning. On the way to Ilimanaq the Ice Fjord are passed by carefully sailing through the icebergs.

  One evening I went on a whale-watching trip out in Disko Bay. On the way out we passes some of the locals sailing there traditional kayaks ( picture 10). After a half hour we saw the first whales fishing. It was fantastic to watch these huge animals eating just a couple of meters from the boat ( picture 11).

  The boat used this evening was a modified former landing vessel from the American Navy. The boat was normally used for diving operations and had all the facilities to having tourists onboard as well ( DanRotork).

West Greenland
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  After 12 days in Ilulissat I continued down south to Nuuk. Nuuk is the capital of Greenland, have 13.000 inhabitants and is a modern city. Down at the harbour some of the old Nuuk can be enjoyed. Here is also a statue of Hans Egede the founder of Nuuk, placed on a small hill ( picture 11a).

  I just had one night in Nuuk and continued down to Narsarsuaq International Airport and further down to Narsaq with a short stop in Qaqortoq, this beautiful tiny settlement perfectly located on the slope ( picture 12).

  My cousin live and work in Narsaq and it was also here I went for 2 years ago. South Greenland is green compared to the Disko Bay area. Just a few kilometres outside Narsaq in small valley lots of gorges, rivers and waterfalls can be watched surrounded by snowy mountains ( picture 13).

  In the mountains huge amount of rare minerals and stones can be found ( picture 14). For example tugtupit, which can only be found here and one place in the former Soviet. Tugtupit are used for ornaments.

South Greenland
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  One weekend we all went on a trip down to Qassairsuk a tiny settlement just across the fjord from Narsarsuaq. Qassairsuk is best known as the place where Erik the Red Diskovered Greenland and the hills and land are really green and it is possible to grow vegetables. That is probably why Erik the Red named it Greenland ( picture 15).

  A short half-day hike from Qassairsuk this remote, green, hilly, desolated settlement Tasiusaq, placed nicely with a great view to an Ice fjord. Tasiusaq is nothing but a sheep farm, 2 houses and a hostel. But the place is very nice and very beautiful ( picture 16).

  After a night on the hotel in Narsarsuaq we went on a day trip to the dead glacier Kiattuut Sermiat. Looking back to Narsarsuaq one better understand the Greenland name that means "the big plain" ( picture 17). Narsarsuaq have a population of about 200 and almost everybody work in the airport or surrounding services.

  After a couple of hours of concentrated walk (and a bit of climbing) the glacier can be watched closely ( picture 18). The trip to the glacier is not a "must due" but is pretty if the weather is okay. The "hospital valley" is the old American airbase that was established during the 2nd world war. Only some bricks indicate that there has been activity.

  Having a rough trip back to Narsaq in a small speedboat, the rest of my 2 days in Narsaq was done in relaxation before I flew back to Copenhagen the 5th of July 2000.

T H E    E N D

Thanks to:
Ilulissat Tourist Service

This Homepage is created by Kim Risager 2nd of September 2000.