Exploring Oqaatsut Part I

After an incredible day exploring icebergs and a night of watching the beautiful northern lights I was expecting to be completely knackered – but instead I awoke after only a few hours of sleep bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready for another amazing day in Greenland!

I had booked another day trip with the wonderful World of Greenland team and this time, I was to sail to a small settlement called Oqaatsut (Oh-khut-soot) – also known as Rodebay. Oqaatsut was first settled in the 1700’s by Dutch whalers who gave it the name Rodebay which translates to Red Bay. It was given this name as the Dutch whalers would draw captured whales ashore here, and the blood of the whales would turn the water in the bay red. In modern times, this settlement is still the home for numerous Inuit fisherman but has a tiny population of less than 40. This population does fluctuate and when I visited in September it was inhabited by only 33 people.

Oqaatsut is not accessible by air but is instead accessed by boat in the warmer months and by dogsled in the winter. From Ilulissat it takes approximately one hour to reach Oqaatsut.

For me, the appeal of visiting Oqaatsut was the remoteness, the rugged beauty and the chance to see many more icebergs.

Upon boarding the boat in the morning to head to the settlement I found that one of the friends I had made on the previous days attempted trip to EQI was going to be heading to the settlement too! This was one of my favourite parts about Greenland travel. There are so few travellers visiting the country that if you stick around for more than a day or two you will see the same travellers pop up all over the place! By the time I left Greenland I knew or recognised more than half of the people getting on my flight back to Reykjavik; and that’s not something you can say every day!

It was a beautifully sunny day but the sun is deceptive. It may look like a warm day but this ended up being one of the coldest days of the entire trip! It got down to about -8Β°C but humidity was at 97% so it felt much colder than this.

Ilulissat is known as the ‘City of Icebergs’ and lets be honest, it’s not exactly hard to see why!

With the sun shining bright and unencumbered by clouds, the icebergs appeared much more angular and detailed than they had the previous day.

It was absolutely freezing on the boat but luckily there were some blankets on board and I managed to commandeer three of them to rug up in!

As we got closer to Oqaatsut we encountered lots and lots of surface ice – a sign that the winter months were on their way.

Then before long, a bunch of the Greenlandic style houses I had come to know and love came into view.

Once docked, we were quick to get off the boat and start exploring. The World of Greenland tour includes a short guided tour and then some free time to go exploring. We started at the settlements school.

This school is so small that at the time of visiting – there were only three students!

Now this should have been only the very beginning of the guided tour but for me it ended up being more like the end.

Whilst everybody else on the tour was exploring the tiny school, I had looked out a window and spotted…

*heavy breathing*
*heavy breathing*


I was out the school door quicker than I was out of my own high school after graduation and went out to greet these beautiful babies.

It wasn’t too long before I was spotted by none other than my friend Shachaf!

Photo courtesy of Shachaf Gidron
Photo courtesy of Shachaf Gidron
Photo courtesy of Shachaf Gidron
Photo courtesy of Shachaf Gidron

It wasn’t long before more people, more puppies and even an arctic wolf joined us! But that’s a story for the next post.

Getting to Ilulissat: Air Iceland has direct flights from Reykjavik to Ilulissat twice weekly in the summer months
Boat Trip to Oqaatsut: Trips to this settlement run all year and are run by World of Greenland – a day trip will set you back approximately $160 AUD
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm lens
Remember: To dress as warmly as you can!

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30-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

51 thoughts on “Exploring Oqaatsut Part I

  1. My mom is due to go to Greenland next yr so i will tell her all!! I am off to Finland and Norway next year, that is the furthest North I will have ever been πŸ™‚

  2. I really like the grooves and lines of the melt patterns on the icebergs.

    That tiny school reminds me of one we saw in rural western Cuba in October. It had 4 students.

    The town pictures always make me think ‘Where are the trees?’. Then, I realize…

  3. Did you ask to take a puppy home
    For a souvenir? With all the puppy posts it only seems appropriate!

    As for the school….that’s crazy! I generally have 8-13 just in MY class alone. 3 in the whole school…wow!

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