Iceberg, Ilulissat Fjord (Estimated height: 100 feet)
Icebergs! That’s why everyone comes to Ilulissat, Greenland 220 miles inside the Arctic Circle and the site of the Ilulissat Icefjord named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. The fjord is the “sea mouth” of Sermeq Kujalleq, one of the few glaciers through which the Greenland ice cap actually reaches the sea. The melt water from most of the others flows to the sea via streams, rivers, or waterfalls. Moreover, it is one of the fastest and most active glaciers in the world, producing more calf ice than any glacier outside Antarctica.
Detail of Reflections from Iceberg
We would be there for less than 14 hours but managed to arrange for a 2-hour cruise through a good part of the navigable fjord then a 3-mile (round-trip) hike to a promontory that overlooked the fjord.
Black and White Image, Iceberg in Ilulissat Fjord
For a close-up view of the icebergs, we joined about ten others on a small fishing boat and set out for the fjord under a brilliant blue sky.
Ilulissat Fjord (Estimated height: 75 feet)
Birds wheeled by the boat as we motored through the frigid water and we caught a glimpse of two humpback whales in the distance. Occasionally, groups of harp seals popped up to check us out.
Humpback Whales, Ilulissat Fjord
The actual face of the glacier is many miles up the fjord and boats cannot get past the jumble of stacked up icebergs which are grounded, unable to float out to sea, until they have melted to a smaller size. Those shown here are the smaller ones that have floated free. Our walk would take us to an overlook of the fjord where the larger ones are stacked up on each other. But the only way (for a tourist) to see the face of the glacier is by helicopter, something we did not have time for.
Fall Colors, Arctic Tundra overlooking Ilulissat Fjord
The walk, mostly along a wooden boardwalk, took us on a scenic route over the tundra which golden yellow in its fall colors. The boardwalk was necessary to protect the boggy tundra which could not withstand the impact of frequent hikers. After about a mile we came to a steep hill that would afford us a spectacular view of the fjord.
Overlook of Ilulissat Fjord
Our vantage point in the image above is situated about 150 feet above the ice immediately below us. It was difficult to believe that the mountains of ice and snow in the distance were icebergs that had broken free of the actual glacier which was still many miles up the fjord to the left.
Panorama of Ilulissat Fjord
The image just above is a six-image photomerge taken from the spot where the person in the previous image was standing and looking to the left. It was hard to leave this spot, but we didn’t want to miss our ride back to the boat in order to continue a journey that had only just begun.