If I had the choice of visiting only one place in this planet, then Ilulissat would be right there at the top. This paradise of icebergs has the biggest glacier outside Antarctica. With so many things to do in Ilulissat, planning your itinerary for Ilulissat is not as easy as it seems.
I too had a tough time planning about the things to do in Ilulissat. There were boat tours, midgnight boat tours, tours to Disko Islands, trip to Eqi glacier, hiking and many more activities to choose from for my 3.5 days stay in Ilulissat. But I was very lucky to get advice from Sarah, who helped me a lot in planning this itinerary. Sarah works as a travel consultant for Visit Greenland (www.greenland.com) and is responsible for International Relationship Management and Press Relations in connection to the North American market. She has extensive knowledge for almost all possible information about Greenland. I first stumbled through her article Tips for Tourists in Greenland, which convinced me that she is the perfect person to answer my queries about the things to do in Ilulissat. You can connect with her through sarah
Day 1 – Midnight sun boat tour by World of Greenland (I have only half a day here as I will reach Ilulissat in the afternoon via Sarfaq Ittuk)
Day 2 – Kayaking in Rhode Bay (Oqaatsut) by PGI Greenland
Day 3 – Hiking along Ilulissat Icefjord (You really don’t need a tour operator to do this)
Day 4 – Boat trip to Eqi Glacier to witness calving by World of Greenland
Midnight Sun Boat trip:
This is a tour that Sarah recommended highly. Midnight sun is an amazing phenomenon of nature and the colors of icebergs during this time are simply stunning. Read more about Midnight Sun in Greenland. Some pictures from this trip:
The sun shining brightly at 22.00
Kayaking in Oqaatsut (Rhode Bay):
Did you know that “kayak” is a Greenlandic word? Kayaking has its origins in Greenland and was used extensively by the Inuit and the other tribes of Arctic region. I had never done kayaking before and this made it even more special to experience something where it actually originated. Just the thought of kayaking between icebergs gave me goosebumps.
This was a must-do thing in Greenland for me. I had looked at various kayaking options in East and West Greenland but all of them were multiple day tours and were quite expensive. Sarah again helped me out here by referring PGI Greenland. This is a fantastic option if you are looking for a short 3 hour kayaking experience. Their staff is very friendly and helpful. You don’t need to worry about the lack of kayaking experience as they provide a basic training before you start paddling in the ocean. I will definitely recommend this activity if you are in Ilulissat. They have also added a new evening kayak activity in Ilulissat. Also check the different kayaking options in Greenland. Some pictures from the day:
H8, probably the only restaurant in Oqaatsut. We had breakfast here before the training session.
Start of the training session
Finally in the water! It was a bit of struggle at the beginning trying to balance and control the direction. Felt like I was going to topple and drown in the freezing water.
But finally got a hold of it and it was such a peaceful experience.
The PGI staff will click a lot of pictures during the entire activity. All these pictures have been clicked by them. I would recommend avoiding the distraction of a camera even if it’s a water proof camera.
It was time to celebrate by taking a dip in the freezing Arctic Ocean
This was truly something unique and my best experience in Greenland. It’s not often that you get a chance to kayak among the icebergs! It would have been great if the activity duration was increased a little more, maybe by an hour or two but still definitely worthwhile.
Saw a whale being cut up while returning
Hiking along Ilulissat Icefjord:
After an amazing midnight sun boat tour of the Ilulissat Icefjord, it was time to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site by hiking. I was camping near the Ilulissat Icefjord right in front of a graveyard, so I was enjoying the views and the graveyard all day long. You can read more about my graveyard camping experience.
There are three hiking routes – red, blue and yellow. Always choose the blue one. This 7km hike offers the best views of the Icefjord and takes around 4-5 hours to complete. The trails are clearly marked by their respective colors, so it’s difficult to get lost.
The best seat in the world with a million dollar view
Boat trip to Eqi Glacier to witness calving:
Watching huge chunks of ice breaking off from the glacier makes for a spectacular sight but it’s also a tragedy in motion. The tragedy of Global Warming effect right in front of us and sadly we now have tours designed to witness this tragedy of calving.
The Eqip Sermia tour is the most popular tour in Ilulissat and is definitely worth the money.
Finally after sailing for 4-5 hours, we reached the massive Eqi glacier. This is the furthest you can go with little chunks of ice lying all around us. We spent couple of hours in front of the glacier to witness the calving.
As I sailed back to Ilulissat, the feeling of depression had already started creeping in. I couldn’t help thinking that my Greenland trip was almost coming to an end. During these two weeks, I had been so spoilt with stunning landscapes and glaciers all around me that even the gigantic icebergs that were passing by my window didn’t excite me anymore. Like a rich spoilt kid, I just looked at them and sighed, “Ah!..just another iceberg.” But I knew how badly I will miss this place once I reach home. Next on the itinerary was to fly to Kangerlussuaq to catch my flight to Denmark.
Please note that all these above activities were planned with keeping the budget in mind. The idea was to experience the best of Ilulissat in three days in a reasonable budget. But then if you have no budget restrictions and no time constraints, then some of these activities might surely interest you: