Greenland 2012 blog – Icebergs in Ilulissat

As you have seen in my previous post, it takes a while to get here. But it is totally worth the long trip. Ilulissat is the center of Greenland tourism for a reason. The third largest city in the country is located on the shores of the famous Icefjord, a Unesco World Heritage site. The iceberg-laden ocean is clearly visible from every corner of the small town.

We had the privilige to stay at Hotel Arctic, the only four-star hotel in Greenland, which is located just outside town center, on a large cliff overlooking the Icefjord on one side and the deep natural fishing harbour on the other side. The rooms of this hotel boast the best view of any hotelroom in the world. The same view can be had from the breakfast room and the restaurant of this great place. And if you want to be closer to the action you can rent one of the metal igloo-shape cabins that sit on the edge of the cliff. The image of these metal domes is a classic picture, and a symbol for Greenland tourism.

From Ilulissat you can take many sightseeing trips to the icy waters of the fjord. There is a beautiful short hiking track leading from the edge of town to a few ancient Inuit ruins and the old port, right on the shores of the Icefjord. Another idea is to charter a boat and sail between the massive icebergs that gently float towards the open ocean. You can then also visit one of the traditional Inuit villages in the area, to learn about the indigenous way of life.

Enjoy your virtual visit to Ilulissat with me here:

One of the oldest buildings in the town is Zion's Kirke, built in the 18th centrury. When built it was the largest man-made structure on Greenland.

One of the most remarkable buildings is Zion’s Kirke, built in the 18th century. When built, it was the largest man-made structure on Greenland.

This is one of the most spectucalar roads in Greenland, albeit very short. It leads from city center to the 'beach' and the 'Qajaq Club' house.

This is one of the most spectucalar roads in Greenland, albeit very short. It leads from city center along the church to the ‘beach’ and the ‘Qajaq Club’ house.

View from Ilulissat 'Beach', in front of the old wooden church. This is all ice floating from the Icefjord into the open Disko Bay.

View from Ilulissat ‘Beach’, in front of the church. This is all ice floating from the Unesco Icefjord into the open Disko Bay and onto the North Atlantic. In fact, it was from here where the infamous iceberg floated towards the Titanic in 1912.

Traditional Inuit Kayaks are piled up in front of Zion's Church, ready to hit the water for a seal hunt.

Traditional Inuit Kayaks are stacked in front of Zion’s Church, ready to hit the water for a seal hunt.

Hotel Arctic, perched high on the rocky cliff above the Icefjord.

Hotel Arctic, perched high on the rocky cliff above the Icefjord.

Unbeatable view from one of the luxury hotel rooms of Hotel Arctic. Who needs the tropics when you can have this view?

Unbeatable view from one of the luxury hotel rooms of Hotel Arctic. Who needs the tropics when you can have this view?

But if a standard hotel room is not enough, you can rent one of these famous metal igloos.

But if a standard hotel room is not enough, you can rent one of these famous metal igloos.

Standing on the cliffs in front of the hotel, enjoying a breathtaking sunset over Disko Bay.

Standing on the cliffs in front of the hotel, enjoying a breathtaking sunset over Disko Bay.

View from the hotel terrace at sunset. The town of Ilulissat sits on the hill behind the ice-filled natural harbour.

View from the hotel terrace at sunset. The town of Ilulissat sits on the hill behind the ice-filled harbour entrance.

One of the best ways to experience the Icefjord is by boat. There is no land in this picture!

One of the best ways to experience the Icefjord is by boat. There is no land in this picture!

Slowly the boat pushes away the small chunks of ice in the fjord, getting eerily close to the skyscraper-size icebergs.

Slowly the boat pushes away the small chunks of ice in the fjord, getting eerily close to the skyscraper-size icebergs.

Getting close to these new icebergs can be very dangerous. Often they are still very unstable and may tumble upside down any moment, due to sudden changes in its center of gravity changes because of melt.

Getting close to these icebergs can be very dangerous. Often they are still very unstable and may tumble upside down any moment, due to sudden changes in its center of gravity changes because of melt. Every year one or two uncareful boats are toppled over by a capsizing iceberg in this bay.

The icebergs make a beautiful foreground to the desolate Arctic landscape behind them.

The icebergs make a beautiful foreground to the desolate Arctic landscape behind them.

On the other side of the fjord we visit the small Inuit town of Iliminaq. This village is home to less than 100 people, that live on fishing, hunting and tourism.

On the other side of the fjord we visit the small Inuit town of Ilimanaq. This village is home to less than 100 people, that live on fishing, hunting and tourism.

The village can only be reached by boat. There are no paved roads connecting the colorful houses.

The village can only be reached by boat. Simple paths connect the colorful houses.

Sailing back from Iliminaq to Ilulissat we pass the large fish cannery plant of Ilulissat. Fishery is still the largest industry in Greenland, but tourism is developing fast (as is mining).

Sailing back from Ilimanaq to Ilulissat we pass the only hospital in West Greenland. The next nearest hospital is in the capital city of Nuuk, over 1,000 kilometers away.

The old Zion's Church is a sign that we are close to Ilulissat harbour again.

The old Zion’s Church is a sign that we are close to Ilulissat harbour again.

For dinner we have sliced smoked musk ox and...

For dinner at restaurant Hvide Falk we have sliced smoked musk ox and…

...several varieties of whale. One of the very few places in the world where you can legally eat whale. Bon appetit!

…several varieties of whale. One of the very few places in the world where you can legally eat whale. Bon appetit!

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