Ilulissat is the third biggest city in Greenland. The city of icebergs is beautifully situated at the mouth of the 56 kilometer ice fiord, filled with enormous icebergs produced by the most productive glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. Icebergs are called ’Ilulissat’ in Greenlandic, and it comes as no surprise to anyone who has been here that it is the town’s name. 4.500 people live in Ilulissat (which adds up to the weight of approximately 2 Blue whales) and approx. 2.100 sled dogs. This is an eloquent statement of the importance of the dogsled as a means of transport, even in a large modern town. The harbor is filled with fishing vessels and trawlers that bear witness to the great importance of fishing for the town.
On UNESCO’s World Heritage List
In the summer of 2004 the Ilulissat Icefjord was listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The largest icebergs strand at the mouth – at depths of 250 to 300 meters – and do not break until the next spring tide, or until they are so eroded that the balance shifts. For the last 150 years the Icefjord has been a significant source of information about glaciology. Only a couple of kilometers from the town are the lush Sermermiut valley that extends down to the icefiord. In 1727, this was the site of Greenland’s largest settlement of 250 people. Excavations have since shown that the beautiful valley had been inhabited for thousands of years.
Ilimanaq, formerly Claushavn, is a small settlement about 15 kilometers south of Ilulissat Icefiord. It has about 85 inhabitants. The name of the settlement means “Place of Expectations”.
The old Danish name of the settlement derived from the Dutch whaler Klacs Pieterz Torp. The whalers were active in the region from 1719 to 1732, leaving a trail of names behind – the settlement of Oqaatsut to the north was originally a Dutch whaling station named “Rodebay“. Claushavn was founded in 1741, around the same time as Ilulissat. Sailing from Ilulissat is a very speciel experience offering visitors a fantastic view of the icebergs.
Kaffemik and local art – the inhabitants offer different activities introducing visitors to the local culture and everyday life in a small settlement.
About 15 kilometers north of Ilulissat lies the settlement of Oqaatsut where some of the old houses from the colonial period are today fitted up as youth hostel and restaurant.
The small fishermens’ and hunters’ settlement Oqaatsut / Rodebay has a long, traditional history. The village was founded by Dutch whalers who came here during the summer seasons. Throughout centuries they were attracted to this specific area. With 40 inhabitants, Oqaatsut is the smallest settlement in the Ilulissat area. You’ll find a shop, school, church and a cosy restaurant H8.
The sailing trip to Oqaatsut is in itself an amazing experience presenting the icebergs and the landscape around Ilulissat.
After sailing north for another couple of hours, you arrive at the impressive Eqi glacier where it is possible to spend the night in modern cabins.
Qasigiannguit is located in the southeast part of Disko Bay. The name, which translates into ’small, multi-colored seals’, refers to the good sealing conditions that traditionally prevail in the area. About 1.100 people lives here. Fishing and hunting are the primary occupations, and the town’s fish factory mainly processes Greenland halibut.
Greenland’s oldest wooden house
The many brightly colored wooden houses are characteristic of the town. Here you will also find Greenland’s oldest wooden house, which today is fitted up as the town’s museum. The area is a treasure chest for archaeology and history buffs, that will find prehistoric memorials from several thousand years of settlements along the coast. These are in the form of house sites, meat caches and hunting blinds. Traces of the highly advanced Saqqaq culture have also been found, and are today on display at the town’s museum. The museum is developing a living project, a summer camp from 1700’s. Preparations, workshops and activities around the project can be visited during the months in the summer time by contact to the museum.
Hikes of any length
The town’s hinterland with rounded hills, valleys and tundra plains offers fine opportunities for activities both in summer and winter. In summer, the surroundings invite you on hikes of any length, from day trips in the vicinity of the town to hikes for experienced hikers to the edge of the ice cap.
Qeqertarsuaq is located on the southern tip of the island of the same name. Qeqertarsuaq means ’large island’ and is by far the largest of the islands along the Greenland coast. The town was founded by whaler Svend Sandgreen in 1773. Whailing has been of great importance to the town over the past two centuries. Hunting and fishing are still the primary occupations for the island’s inhabitants. Around 900 inhabitants live in the main town and 30 in the Kangerluk settlement, located few hours by boat to the North West. This is where searchers found a ’galloping’ glacier, that moves up to 100 meters a day.
Hundreds of hot springs
Qeqertarsuaq is located at the end of very beautiful basalt mountains, which originates from lava streams millions of years back. The volcanoes have been inactive for a very long time, but there are still hundreds of hot springs on the island, making the island very unique according to fauna and wildlife. The hot springs does not have swimming temperature though, with its 4-10 Celsius degree.
Dogsledding in summer
As something quite unique in Greenland, it is possible to go dog sledding at Qeqertarsuaq under the midnight sun in summer. It takes place on the inland called ’Lyngmarksbræen’ at a height of around 800 m in the hills behind the town. Wander to the top of the hills where your efforts are rewarded by a fantastic view of DiskoBay and the gigantic icebergs at Ilulissat almost 100 kilometers away.
Uummannaq is situated 590 km north of the polar circle. Up here the sun does not set for 2 months every year, but on the other hand does not arise from November to February. Uummannaq is what you call the “real” Greenland. A majestic and harsh landscape with tall mountains, rare vegetation, many glaciers, icebergs and a population to whom fishing and hunting by dogsled or boat is a natural part of daily life.
2.300 people live in and near Uummannaq. Approx. half of them live in one of the 7 settlements. The town lies on an island which covers 12 square km, and is dominated by the 1.175 m high heart-shaped mountain, after which the town is named.
One of the fastest moving glaciers
The town is surrounded by islands and peninsulas, up to 2.200 meters high. The sea around Uummannaq is rich in whales. Impressive icebergs can be seen everywhere, as well as Ice Mountains in shades of blue and white with fantastic shapes. They stem from the world’s fastest moving glacier, originated from the inland ice.