THE NORDIC SERIES, DAY 4
I was picked up at 12 by my guide Erval and to my surprise it was a private tour, result! Our first stop was the Russell Glacier but on the way we stopped at various sights; the outdoor natural swimming pool (current frozen over), the remains of an air crash which happened 51 years ago (1968) and a golf course, none of which I expected to see.
I WAS DRAGGING MY JAW ACROSS THE ICE COMPLETELY OVERAWED BY WHAT I WAS SEEING
The plane was part of an 8 strong U.S. fleet coming from Reykjavik. 5 of those landed and the other 3 couldn’t located the airport of Kangerlussuaq and eventually ran out of fuel. They were only 15km from the town and although it sounds simple, if they had followed the valley they would have eventually come to the airport.
The road was bumpy and very icy but my driver was a madman, a madman in control so after the first 5 minutes of sh*ting myself I knew what he was doing. Driving towards the glacier I had to constantly pinch myself that what I was seeing was real. The scenery and landscape is like nowhere else in the world, after all that’s the attraction of Greenland, it’s entirely unique.
- There are glaciers all over Greenland, which more or less actively produce icebergs at different times of the year, mainly in the summer.
- The most productive is the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier at Ilulissat Icefjord, which is also the most visited.
- Icebergs are found throughout most of Greenland, all unique in shape, color, and size.
As soon as we could see Russell Glacier we took ourselves off road and continued until it was time to go on foot. From here it was about 200 metres before we could see the glacier in all its glory and if the temperature wasn’t enough to take your breath away then the view would.
I have seen a few glaciers in my time and walked on a few as well but getting this close to the ice wall was something new but no matter your experience with glaciers you will never truly comprehend the shear size! I was lucky enough to be able to get my drone up for another few shots and after around 30-40 minutes we headed onto the ice cap again driving through some scenery that I will never forget!
THE ICE SHEET
People have asked me, “why are you going to Greenland” and the truthful answer – “to walk on the ice sheet”. If I could somehow convey the sheer size and mass of this thing you would soon understand why.
In fact I am currently on my flight back to Denmark and if we were to fly from the north to the south it would take almost 5 hours. To put that into perspective if you were to fly for the same length of time from Portugal to the east of Europe you would cross 14 countries….and back again! Remember its ice, fucking ice!
So as you may well have grasped I was excited for this. Driving towards the ice sheet the views continued to out do themselves and no more so than the first view of the ice sheet which can only be described as a huge mass of white lava slowly pushing its way outwards
- The ice sheet 1.8 million km2 in area.
- Its total volume is 2.7 million km3 – that’s the same as 7% of all fresh water on earth.
- If it were to melt then we would experience a 7 meter rise in sea level.
- The highest point is 3,300m.
- It is more than 3,500 m thick.
WONDER OF THE WORLD
The road ended and we put on our snow chains and set off on foot. Now at this stage I didn’t really know what to expect, 6ft deep snow or preciously thin ice. But I needn’t worry about either of those things. In places the ice sheet is over 3.5km in depth of rock hard ice (the titanic is sitting at 3.8km). Again I was lucky to get my drone up again for another few images and at this stage I was dragging my jaw across the ice completely overawed by what I was seeing.
I no doubt could have stayed there for hours to help try and take it all in but that would be almost impossible no matter how long I stayed. We headed back to the car and off for some late lunch in what is probably the most impressive picnic destination I’ve seen.
As if the views weren’t enough, the guide Erval had made an egg and bacon sandwich for me along with some chocolate sticks and green tea! He must have got a memo from someone who knew me. I honestly didn’t want this day to end but believe it or not it was about to get a whole lot better.
Arriving back at the hotel I made a quick reservation for Robokklan, the famous Greenlandic restaurant here in Kangerlussuaq and after our luck last night during the northern lights I could see the sky was clearing so I made a beeline for my camera.
At this stage I wasn’t sure if the lights were clouds or not, there was no colour, until the camera revealed the first image. It wasn’t perfect but at least I knew the Northern Lights were now here. After a few shots we decided to take our cameras down to the restaurant just incase!
THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
The food was great, traditional Greenlandic buffet which had everything form Musk Ox (great) to Mink Whale (one of the worst things I’ve tried (up there with the snail in Cambodia LINK).
During the meal we frequently went outside to keep an eye on the lights but there was nothing so when the bus arrived to take us we decided to hold off and wait hoping for a change in the weather and it was completely worth it.
We went down to the lake where the aurora borealis were doing the most incredible light show and I managed to get some of the best photos I’ve ever taken. I was absolutely spoilt today but there was plenty of risk involved if coming here. The lights are never guaranteed and it took me the best part of 24 hours to get here, fortune favours the brave and it all paid off!
Tomorrow morning it was back to Copenhagen for a few hours sleep and then to The Faroe Islands which will end up as one of my best surprises!
Well well well, I couldn’t have wished for a better time in Greenland, every box tick with flying colours. See the full reflection post here
After a quick night back in Denmark its off to the Faroes, another absolute gem in this part of the world! Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
- Have you been to the ice sheet?
- What did you think?
- Have you seen the Northern Light
Let me know in the comments below . . .