Disko Bay, Ilulissat, Greenland
It’d been a lifetime’s ambition to photograph icebergs, a bucket list itch that was increasingly needing to be scratched. I’m not sure of the particular lure but I just wanted to be amongst them, breathe them, witness them and take a few shots before I died. It was just one of those things. They’re beautiful, awe-inspiring, natural and glaciers are declining fast, the bug was growing.
I’d started to hound my buddy, Ian, who’d also expressed an interest in coming with me. Not ones for a normal package tour, we decided to investigate getting there and hiring/chartering a boat to get us in amongst the ‘bergs. However, there were a couple of things stacked against us…
- Getting to and from Greenland isn’t as easy and as regular as most places (obviously)
- The cost involved meant we’d have to plan very carefully to get what we wanted
After nearly two years of saving and investigation (and, at times, trying to convince each other it was a silly idea) we’d decided Ilulissat, nearly halfway up Greenland’s west coast on Disko Bay, seemed to offer us the best ‘platform’ for year round icebergs and viewing opportunities. It’s accessible (relatively speaking), has a town of 4,500 people, a few Hotels/B&B/Rooms and a thriving harbour. Perfect for us.
Timing was important, we needed the sea to be navigable (not frozen) and be able to generally get around, however, we didn’t really fancy the height of summer given the increased cost of accommodation and everything else, including our perception of less boats available.
After much head scratching and costing the only real difficulty remained with a boat charter. This one was proving to be very difficult, the regular ‘cruises’ weren’t offering what we were after and expensive. Anything else very tricky to organise and, on the face of it, seemed prohibitively expensive.
During this period of head scratching, Ian emailed me a link to a photographic tour with Iceland Photo Tours along with the words, “not for us but shows the potential”. Along with their “Greenland – Midnight Sun” itinerary the link contained a beautiful video of Disko Bay and the photographic opportunity that existed there. When I looked at the pricing of their ‘tour’, which was for 24/7 daylight (in the height of summer) and included accommodation, breakfast and evening meal, boat charter for 5 days and an organised exploration of Disko Bay, the Icefjord and local settlements. It didn’t seem to be too bad cost-wise (comparatively speaking) and ticked many of our boxes sightseeing wise. I replied with, “Are you sure? Here are the numbers”, and pretty soon after, despite our desire to DIY our trip, we booked ourselves up! I must admit to a bit of soul-searching re the price but we convinced ourselves it was a once in a lifetime chance to get to see what we’d always wanted and dreamed of seeing.
Planning the trip, organising flights, baggage limits (for photographic equipment) and stop-overs to enable us to participate on the 6 day tour became our priority. Details of our itinerary and providers will follow in the next update but suffice to say, it took a bit of fun planning and researching. Always an exciting part of any trip away. Hels, my wife, took one look at the promo video and announced that she was coming along too as there was no way she was going to miss out (the link stated Humpback Whales were always around and in hindsight, this was inevitable!) It was brilliant news but of course, doubled the already eye-watering expense. Having taken out the appropriate second mortgage, we were set up and raring to go… My itch was about to be scratched!