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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog

The UNESCO Ilulissat Icefiord

The Ilulissat Icefiord is a UNESCO World Heritage sight and the most popular sight in the town of Ilulissat on the west coast of Greenland. Currents take ice that breaks off from the glaciers further up the coast and sends them down to Ilulissat. Due to the relevant shallow depths of the bay (the water is only 200-300m deep) the icebergs get stuck here and gather to form the magnificent Icefiord. Eventually as the bergs melt, the will drift away, but this happens slowly and for the majority of the time there is a stunning display of icebergs and ice in the Icefiord. There are two main ways in which you can see the Icefiord - From the hiking trails or no a boat trip.

Ilulissat Icefiord by hiking - Behind the town are several designated hiking trails of various length and difficulty. From these trails you can get panoramic views of the whole Icefiord and from higher ground than on a boat. I did a couple of hikes and spent much time just sitting and watching the Icebergs - Looking at their different shapes and colours. There was hardly a sound except for the occasional bird that flew over and the whole area was so peaceful. From the viewpoints in the moraines you can see the expanse of the Icefiord and to in all of its glory. You can read more about the yellow hiking trail in particular here.

Ilulissat Icefiord by boat - You can take any boat trip to the Icefiord at different times of the day and I am sure they would all be fantastic, but there is nothing quite like seeing the Icebergs during the hours of the midnight sun.

During the summer months in Greenland the sun barely sets and even at midnight there is no true darkness. As the sun lowers and gets close to the horizon, the colours change and this lights up the Icebergs in a beautiful and magical way.

Our boat trip set off at 9pm and made its way slowly to the Icefiord. The top deck was cold but I had wrapped up well so I didn't feel it. As we approached the first Icebergs the boat had to force its way through the Ice porridge – Small pieces of ice were forced under the hull and made loud banging noises on the underside; If you weren't expecting it, the noise could be quite alarming!

We drifted slowly past the huge icebergs – We're talking about bergs that were 4-5 times longer than the boat and as big as buildings! The sun reflected off the bergs and gave them a soft golden glow. It was such a gorgeous sight and it all felt quite wondrous. I was captivated by the colours, shapes and infinite mass of the ice and snow. I would have been quite happy if the boat had broken down and got stuck – I could have admired these monumental monoliths for a lifetime.

As the boat pulled on I was stunned to see something I had failed to see in both Antarctica and Iceland – A Humpback Whale! Until this point in time I had never seen a whale in the wild and it was something I was desperate to witness. You can read in full about my whale sightings here, but be assured it was one of the most breath-taking feats of nature I have ever seen! After the whales had disappeared the boat headed back to Ilulissat.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Ilulissat Icefiord from two different perspectives – The hiking routes gave spectacular panoramic views of the whole Icefiord, whilst the boat tour allowed me to get up close to the ice giants and see them first hand in all their majesty. Whichever way you choose, the Ilulissat Icefiord will stick in your memory for an eternity – It really is a phenomenal wonder.

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