I have been drawn to our planet’s glaciated areas for the past twenty years, and only one of those stops is dynamic enough to be given a UNESCO World Heritage designation. The town of Ilulissat, West Greenland borders one of the fastest flowing, most biologically productive, and culturally historic fjord systems in the world. So dynamic, in fact, that the fjord was given the UNESCO designation in 2004. Today, we were able to explore the edges of that fjord system via foot and boat.
Looking down on thousands of icebergs backed up 40 miles due to a geologic anomaly is, at once, an unusual and awe-inducing site. The Greenland ice sheet, 700,000 miles of glaciated terrain, squeezes out of the west coast of Greenland, 40 miles east of Ilulissat, to create the aforementioned swath of icebergs.
Beyond the ice jam, just west of a submerged terminal moraine that keeps back all that ice, are dozens of fishing boats, tour boats, and the plethora of wildlife that draws in all this attention.
Today, we had the chance to watch the hustle and bustle of a town built on the backs of fisherman and expanded by the wallet of tourism.
Every year I return, Ilulissat grows larger with more amenities. The town’s UNESCO status draws more and more tourists every year, but the increased interest never diminishes the ridiculous beauty of this part of the world.