After seeing icebergs from a plane, a kayak, rocky cliffs and from my hotel, I was eager to see them from a boat. There are small boat trips available that stay within the Ilulissat Icefjord, but I was looking to get even further out into the middle of nowhere.
World of Greenland is one of just several tour companies in Ilulissat and offer a huge range of trips and activities all year round. After doing some research on all my options, I was pretty keen to jump aboard the full day boat trip out to the Eqip Sermia glacier – also known as EQI. This particular glacier is a very productive and seriously big calving glacier, and I had my heart set on seeing some beautiful calving.
This particular trip required a very early rise as the boat must travel 80km to the glacier and 80kmn back to Ilulissat in just one day. 80km may not sound like a lot but the boat cannot travel at extremely high speeds. It would be unsafe for it to do so as there are thousands of icebergs all through the water and nobody is in a rush to reenact Titanic!
The sun had barely risen when we left the small harbour and set sail. It was an extremely cold morning and there was ice everywhere!
It was also a very overcast day which may not sound appealing, but in this particular setting, it is absolutely perfect for taking photographs, as it meant that the icebergs were casting absolutely stunning reflections onto the water.
It was amazing just how close the boat was getting to the icebergs! We were ensured though that the boat was designed to travel amongst these icebergs and the chance of something going wrong (translation: the chance of the boat sinking) was very low. It is however, worth noting though that these freezing iceberg filled waters take the lives of several locals every year. Speed boats are often used safely by fisherman, but occasionally people will hit hard pieces of surface ice that they were unable to see which causes capsizing. In waters these cold, humans are not able to survive for very long.
As the sun rose higher the intricate details of the icebergs became more visible and the difference in colour of the icebergs became much more obvious. Ice is filled with lots of tiny air bubbles which serve to scatter the colour wavelenghts equally – resulting in the white colour. However when glacier ice has been compressed and compressed, these air bubbles are squished out and the wavelength of the colour blue is scattered more than all other colours, giving icebergs their blue colour. Icebergs with a very obvious blue hue are usually extremely old pieces of ice.
The ocean and the wind carve out such gorgeous shapes in these ice. Each iceberg is unique and constantly changing.
I stayed out on the boat deck for ages before I became a frozen icicle and had to step back inside the quasi warm sheltered part of the boat and defrost my frozen fingers. Along the way I made a lovely new friend from Israel – Shachaf. We spent the entire day on the boat hanging out and taking many photos. This is one of my favourite parts of travelling – meeting all the new people along the way!
Because the boat was constantly moving, there was constantly new icebergs to marvel at, lighting to capture and reflections to fall in love with. I took about 600 photographs during this one day!
Occasionally we would find ourselves in a patch of water with almost no icebergs, and during these times the star of the scenery show became the stunning rocky mountains flanking the bay.
Not too long later we came across a small waterfall running down from one of these mountains. The clouds were so low I felt like I could reach out and touch them and the water pouring from the rocks looked nothing short of magical.
It was truly amazing how low the clouds were – and how they seemed to peak out from between the rocks was incredible.
We then hit a patch of the most utterly perfect lighting and I was able to take photographs that look doctored but are in fact completely unedited.
I was then able to take what I believe is the most beautiful photograph I have ever taken in my entire life.
I couldn’t stop smiling, I was so in awe of the stunning landscape and the magnificence of the views surrounding me. Despite being truly frozen solid from the cold (because a certain someone had made the oh so wise decision to not wear her thermals that day) I didn’t want to miss any of the beauty unfolding before me.
Also because I am only human, it only seemed right that I take at least a few ‘self portraits’ (the elegant term for selfies) with such a stunning backdrop!
It was at this point that we were only a few kilometres from finally reaching the Eqip Sermia glacier, when suddenly, out of nowhere, the temperature dropped and the ice starting packing tightly together.
With the weather turning, two questions jumped into my mind. Would we be able to make it to Eqip Sermia? What if the ice packs so tightly that the boat becomes stuck?
I’ll share the answers to both those questions in the next post. Stay tuned!
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Ilulissat: Air Iceland has direct flights from Reykjavik to Ilulissat twice weekly in the summer months
Boat Trip to Eqip Sermia: Trips to this calving glacier run between June 1st and September 30th and are run by World of Greenland – a day trip will set you back approximately $400 AUD
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm lens and 52mm HOYA polarising filter
Remember: To be smarter than me and wear your thermals!