Golden Light, Ilulissat, Greenland

Golden light reflects off a huge iceberg during a Midnight Cruise on a long Summer's night on the Ilulissat Icefjord in Disko Bay, Ilulissat, Greenland

Greenland is a remarkable country. It’s a harsh, wild environment where nature rules in its pristine state. But change is coming to Greenland. While the entire country has only 150 km (i.e., 90 miles) of roads, 60 km (i.e., 40 miles) of which are sealed, and a total population of around 57,000 people infrastructure within the country’s towns has been improving over the decades.

Change and the Price Paid

A huge mining boom is likely to bring to the country huge economic growth. Let’s all hope that the obvious compromises to cultural identity and the environment are not overly compromised by the promised advantages associated with such growth. All too often change comes at a price and the indigenous Inuit, who’s lives are so intimately linked to the landscape in which they live, face great uncertainty over coming years. 

Living the Dream

I made the above photo during a midnight cruise on the world famous Ilulissat Icefjord near the tourist town of Ilulissat in Western Greenland.

It’s a most remarkable place where the Sermeq Kulalleq or Jakobshavn Glacier, the largest in the northern hemisphere, speeds into Disko Bay and towards the sea at around 40 meters a day during the summer months. It’s said that around 1/10 of the ice that reaches the sea from the inland ice comes from this glacier. A massive 35 cubic kilometers of ice is calved off the glacier every year and into the 200-300 meter deep Ilulissat Icefjord.

The sheer size and shapes of these great monoliths boggle the mind. The Icebergs are huge, but it’s the color they take on, reflecting the surreal light of the arctic sun on the edges of the day, that make the experience so wondrous.

You’re Either Here, Or You’re Not

The cruise lasted around 2 hours. I decided to stay on deck for all but around 10 minutes of that time. It was windy and cold but being inside, undercover, felt a little too much like watching nature on a TV screen from the comfort of your own living room sofa.

When I did venture inside, to check on my traveling companion, I was amazed to see that nobody seemed to be taking more than a cursory glimpse out of the window. I couldn’t believe it, nor could I wait any longer. That kind of attitude is like a disease. I had to get back out on deck and start living again. And I’m so glad I did.

I loved my time in Greenland and look forward to returning again to see more of this most spectacular country. It’s a long way from Australia so, for anyone traveling from this neck of the woods, consider spending some time in either Iceland or the Faroe Islands on route. You’ll be so glad you did. All three countries offer spectacular photography opportunities, yet all are unique destinations that are very different from each other.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru