Aug 17, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer
As our amazing expedition to the Arctic winds down, we will spend a few days exploring the west coast of Greenland. This morning, we arrived in the very tiny harbor of Ilulissat. With nerves of steel and a deft touch on the helm, Captain Aaron Wood managed to turn National Geographic Explorer around in a space that appeared no longer than the ship herself. There is one pier just barely large enough for us, and most of the other boats seemed dwarfed by our presence. This is a busy harbor nonetheless. Fishing boats—some old and rusty, some bright and fresh from a recent haul-out—and forklifts compete for some maneuvering space with the small shuttle vans that arrive dockside to take guests on various jaunts around the settlement.
Ilulissat is also famous for its proximity to one of Greenland’s busiest glaciers, Jakobshavn Isbræ, which dumps 20 billion tons of ice into Disko Bay each year. The huge icebergs get snared by the shallow waters at the bay’s entrance, remaining there for months or even years. Guests had the option to get up close to these bergs in small boats piloted by expert locals who know just how close is close enough. The 8 a.m. tours enjoyed some very dramatic scenery as the coast was blanketed with thick fog. A light drizzle didn’t dampen our spirits, and we were surprised to find a few humpback whales surfacing among the icebergs!
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