Ilulissat, Greenland

Aug 21, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer


As guests sleepily made their way to the delicious, hot coffee in the early morning, National Geographic Explorer made its way to Ilulissat. We eagerly peered out of our portholes and watched the colorful houses of our second Greenlandic town draw near.

The town was vibrant with life! Workers scuttled around the docks moving large crates, locals and visitors alike bopped in and out of shops, and kids were busy riding bikes and playing soccer. Whether one preferred local artisan markets, quaint coffee shops, or the corner bar, the town offered something for everyone.

The houses there are painted various bright colors as a stark contrast to the dreary landscape. Our photo team led a walk through town to help guests best capture the spirit and vibe of our destination. For those who wanted to properly walk off dessert, a naturalist led a longer walk that offered stunning glacial views.

To help us fully explore what this area had to offer, we took local boats out into the fjord to cruise the ice! Due to the outstanding glaciology and beauty, the Ilulissat Icefjord became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. Though it was nice to see the icebergs from shore, seeing them up close offered a completely new perspective. Our mouths were left agape when we saw the massive bergs dwarf our boats. How humbling it was to be among such large and beautiful natural objects. The moody skies and blue hues of the icebergs made for excellent photographs. Other than the crackling of ice and the sloshing of water, the fjord was silent. Then, in the distance, we heard a blow. It must have been our lucky day because humpback whales swam and fed around our boats and the icebergs all day. What a treat to see whale flukes in a sea of ice!

After dinner, we enjoyed more time cruising the ice the beautiful evening light from the comfort of our ship. We even spotted more humpback whales! After spending so much time in the rain this afternoon, it was nice to be back to the comfort of our temporary home. Goodbye, Greenland. Next stop: Canadian Arctic!

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About the Author

Shaylyn Potter

Undersea Specialist

Shaylyn was born and raised in small-town Oregon, which she credits for her unwavering love and respect for the natural world. Her passion for the outdoors and exploration began at a young age, and she spent her childhood taking full advantage of what Oregon had to offer—waterskiing, snowboarding, hiking, and camping.

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