Ilulissat, West Greenland

Sep 14, 2018 - National Geographic Explorer

Today was almost all about icebergs.

The Ilulissat icefjord is the biggest iceberg factory in the Northern Hemisphere. Bergs calved from a tongue of the Greenland ice sheet are spat into the head of this fjord—but there's a problem: A shallow hump at the mouth of the fiord catches deep-drafted bergs, locking them in an iceberg jail yard, until the irresistible force of more arriving bergs push them past.

Boat tours gave guests a close-up experience of the immense icebergs at the fjord's mouth. A short hike down a boardwalk led guests to a fjord-side cliff that overlooked the iceberg prison.  

The Ilulissat area is home to Sermermiut, settled thousands of years ago by the Saqqaq indigenous people and one of the most important archaeological sites in Greenland. Together, history and natural wonders have earned the Ilulissat icefjord the designation of a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Many guests took advantage of free time for walks in town. The dog sledding tradition is much alive in Greenland, and guests saw many of tethered dogs, waiting for their summer vacation to end and their sledding work to begin.

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About the Author

David Cairns


David has spent most of his life on, over, or surrounded by water. Born and raised on Prince Edward Island on Canada's east coast, he pursued graduate and postdoctoral studies on seabirds on the remote fringes of eastern and Arctic Canada. He then took up a career in fisheries science which led him back to his natal island, where he is a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and an adjunct professor at several universities. As a marine biologist, David considers himself singularly lucky to be paid to snorkel through salmon pools, steer Zodiacs through bergy bits, look up at whales, measure writhing eels, scramble up a rocky ledge that Jacques Cartier's men scrambled up, sit still while a puffin unties his bootlaces, sleep among the ghosts of great auks, and discover things about the natural world that have never been known before. He likes to share his stories and passions with others, which is why he applied to join the Lindblad Expedition team.

About the Videographer

James Napoli

Video Chronicler

Jim was born in rural New England where he quickly developed an appreciation for the outdoors and a love of exploration.  Four years with the U.S. Navy further enhanced his appetite for travel. Always interested in the visual arts, he studied Television at Boston University and Northeast College of Communications, landing his first job in the industry working as an editor at a Boston television station. His wanderlust drew him to a job with two major cruise lines; installing and managing broadcast centers onboard a total of over a dozen ships. He has since moved on to specialize in expedition travel and wildlife productions.  

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