Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ilulissat: Greenland's Jewel of the North

On the hike to Sermermiut             (click image to enlarge)
Ilulissat is definitely one of the highlights of this voyage.  There isn't anything else like it on earth.  Yes, you can see lots of ice in other places in the world and I have been to some of those places but 
I can't imagine anything else exists like the Icefjord.  Sermec Kujaleq glacier is an iceberg making machine.  It turns the 60 km fjord into a conveyor belt of ice.  46 cubic kilometres of ice per year flow down the fjord.  Many of the icebergs get stuck at the end of fjord.  The fjord goes from a depth of 500 metres to 250 metres. The larger icebergs can't make it over the hump of moraine at the mouth of the fjord and into open sea until they have either melted or broken up to smaller sizes.  So, they collect.  And right now the full length and breadth of the fjord is choked with icebergs.  Really large icebergs.
Wall to wall icebergs in the Ilulissat Icefjord!
Our visit to Ilulissat is about getting people to view the Ice in as many different ways as possible.  We offer our own guided hike to Sermeriut.  Sermiut is a protected archeological site that was occupied by all of the major Paleo-eskimo cultures (excluding Independence I & II) dating back over 4000 years.  Sermermiut lies near the mouth of the fjord and just beyond the ancient site are magnificent views of the ice.
Many people chose to view the fjord from a helicopter and still others went by boat.  Lots of people chose to combine excursions and see the fjord from the air, the sea and the land.
As you can see in the photographs the weather was perfect.
We had the entire day at our disposal.  We arrived in Ilulissat at 07:30 and didn't leave until 18:50 so that gave people ample time to see the ice and to explore the town on their own.
In the evening we were invited to the Observation Lounge where the crew entertained us by singing many familiar old ballads.