After a lovely day exploring Nuuk, I was beyond excited to fly to Ilulissat. I love icebergs, glaciers and Greenlandic huskies; and Ilulissat is the place to see them! However, the Greenlandic weather Gods didn’t seem to care too much about my plans to get to Ilulissat in a timely fashion; and what should’ve been a quick 45 minute Air Greenland flight ended up being subject to delays, delays and more delays.
I arrived at Nuuk airport nice and early to check in for my flight. Nuuk airport literally consists of two rooms. One arrivals room which has a tiny baggage carousel and one room with a waiting area, check in bench and small cafe all together. Security checks and super long check-in times don’t exist in Greenland! This first flight ended up being about 70 minutes delayed, so once we finally got up into the air I was pretty ecstatic.
Whilst up in the air I realised that the flight would be making a ‘technical stop’ in Kangerlussuaq, however this is routine for this flight path, so at this point I wasn’t too concerned. I got off the first plane and made my way to the departure hall to board my next flight. This was when I got the niggling feeling that the weather wasn’t working in my favour.
The next flight ended up being delayed another three hours due to poor weather in Ilulissat. After waiting patiently for the next flight we were finally able to board and I breathed an enormous sigh of relief. Although that sigh of relief was mighty premature.
What should have been a 20-30 minute flight ended up being close to 2.5 hours! After 45 minutes of flying the captain finally announced that the cloud cover over Ilulissat was extremely dense and extremely low to the ground, meaning that they wouldn’t be able to visualise the ground well enough to make a safe landing. They were going to keep circling over Ilulissat until sunset to see if the clouds would clear enough for the plane to land. Once the sun set it would be far too dangerous to attempt landing.
So we circled, and circled and circled some more.
As the sun began to set the captain announced that he would lower the plane down as low as was safe and attempt to find a way through; if there was no way through, we would have to go all the way back to Kangerlussuaq and try again the following day.
It’s safe to say that by this point I was pretty frustrated.
However, I am a firm believer that there is a silver lining to every story, and I got mine. Whilst lowering the plane down to try and find a way through, I got my first glimpse of icebergs. It did NOT disappoint.
The icebergs were pure white, enormous and they put the smile back on my face in a second! I got a wonderful 20 minutes of these stunning views before we were given the bad news that we’d be heading back to Kangerlussuaq. The stunning views certainly made up for the inconvenience.
We arrived back in Kangerlussauq where the kitchen was reopened and dinner was on the house. After a restless nights sleep in the airport I awoke to see that the weather appeared to have gotten worse. Snow was falling!
Apparently looks can be deceiving though, because although I was scheduled to be on a 1.15pm flight out, I was able to talk my way onto the 11am flight and this time, there were no delays.
The 35 minute flight went perfectly, and the icebergs from the night before were just as beautiful in the daylight.
When we finally got within a kilometre of Ilulissat I could see the town I had to suffer through all the delays to get to, and I knew it would be worth every bit of frustration.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Ilulissat: Air Greenland flies between Nuuk and Ilulissat several times daily; flights can cost between $300 to $950 AUD depending on when you fly
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm lens and 52mm HOYA polarising filter
Remember: The weather will do whatever it wants to do, be prepared for delays and remember to go with the flow