Greenland truly is a world of its own. Icebergs and the inland ice are probably the most famous aspects of the Greenlandic nature – and with good reason. Colossal icebergs in fantastic shapes of blue and white float on the deep blue sea.
Greenland is also about green mountains with beautiful wild flowers, long fjords, precipitous cliffs, hot springs and skies so high and air so fresh. It is easy to see why it is not just people who enjoy living here. Animals also thrive here – at sea and on land – whales, seals, reindeer and musk oxen, to name but a few of the spectacular wildlife.
In Greenland the past is never far away, and even in the biggest towns you experience culture of bygone times.
Natural wilderness the beauty of East Greenland’s natural wilderness combined with the Inuit cultural experience may very well result in your visit to Greenland ranking as one of your most cherished memories.
East Greenland is one of the most isolated habitations in the world. Along the more than 20,000 kilometers of coastline you’ll only encounter two towns and 5 small settlements, inhabited by no more than 3,500 people. As it is only just over 100 years since the first Europeans came to the area, the traditional Inuit culture still plays an important role in day-to-day life. The culture is still strong where life follows the heartbeat of nature. Hunting is still the main source of income for many people.
Coming to Ammassalik you enter the very heart of East Greenland’s exceptional beauty, and one of the most beautiful and unspoiled arctic areas in the world. The awesome landscape has no parallel in the entire arctic. A mosaic of steep, dramatic mountains, countless lakes, streams and rivers, waterfalls, glaciers and green valleys. Ammassalik radiates a purity, which has overwhelmed and fascinated visitors throughout time.
Ammassalik is known to local residents as Tasiilaq which in East Greenlandic means something resembling a lake. It is the largest village in East Greenland with about 2000 residents situated 100km south of the Arctic Circle. The town has a picturesque setting in a fjord surrounded by high mountains and bisected by a small river that flows through the town. The Flower Valley behind the town has a unique flora and is a popular place for short or long hikes.
Whenever you are in an Arctic area you can expect changeable weather and must be prepared for all kinds of weather when you go on a tour. In summertime the average temperature varies between plus 6 degrees Celsius to plus 15 degrees. Humidity is very low in Greenland so it does not feel as cold as in Europe as the wind is very dry.
Transfer to a hotel in Reykjavík
Dinner and accommodation in Reykjavík
We fly from Reykjavík to Kulusuk in the morning. From Kulusuk we go by boat or a helicopter, depending on weather conditions.
While sailing from Kulusuk to Tasiilaq you will enjoy your first sight of the picturesque icebergs with a stop on the way at the tidewater glacier Aputsiaq. The icebergs are truly as masterpieces coming in all shapes and sizes and no two icebergs exactly alike.
Tasiilaq is only a 10-minute helicopter ride from Kulusuk, but this short flight is one of the most scenic expeditions imaginable as you cross the ice-filled sea separating these two mountainous islands.
We leave at 9am to Ikateq a deserted village where nearby you find a rusty old American base that creates a contrast to the beautiful wilderness scenery surrounding it. From Ikateq we sail to Knud Rasmussen glacier where we stop for about 2 hours.
In the Ikateq Fjord connecting Sermiligaaq and Kuummiut you’ll find the abandoned American airbase, founded shortly after World War II. When the Airport was moved to Kulusuk everything was left behind, and despite the fact that a lot of “souvenirs” have been collected in the past years, the place is still worth a visit.
The Knud Rasmussen glacier is more than three kilometres long and is approximately 900 meters in width. Because of the glacial activity the Sermiliqaq Fjord is coloured with sediments, giving it a very distinctive milky blue color. The place is beautiful and perfect for photography.
There are many large glaciers calving in the area near Tasiilaq, among other places in Sermilikfjorden. A boat trip out here to one of the settlements reveals the wonder of nature with an abundance of icebergs floating alongside you as you sail. On a boat trip, you are given a compelling demonstration of the scale of the icebergs towering over the boat.
Facts: Icebergs occur when glaciers calve. Only about 1/9 of it is above water, although this depends on how much air is trapped in the ice.
Today you will simply enjoy the fantastic experience of watching the daily life in the settlement. As is the custom in the villages of east Greenland, the wooden houses of Tasiilaq are colourful and scattered on rocks on the hills of the mountains. Tasiilaq is located in an almost circular fjord and, as is usual in the area, surrounded by tall mountains with steep slopes. Tasiilaq is split in two by a small river, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in Greenland.
We will visit a workshop where they make the traditional kayaks (Harpoon) and the little museum, which is built inside the town’s old church. This will give you an insight into the fascinating East Greenlandic culture and you can see examples of the fine figures made out of teeth and bones that East Greenland is known for. In the museum you will find kayaks, tupilaks, termojakke and masks. We also take a peek inside the beautiful church, decorated by Greenlandic artist Aka Høegh.
The port in Tasiilaq is the town’s main artery. It is strange to imagine that it is not more than 120 years ago since the first Europeans set foot on East Greenland.
We will also visit a family performing the Inuit Drum dance for a photo session.
The drum has been known and used in the whole of the arctic region. It represents a tradition that has been adapted to the special nomadic way of life of the Inuit and which has made a great impact on their culture and society. The unwritten history of the Inuit has survived in songs, stories and legends passed on from one generation to the next on dark winter evenings, accompanied by the monotonous rhythm of the drum.
The landscape of the Ammassalik district is exceptionally beautiful and is like no other in the entire arctic. The district is full of lakes, large and steep mountains, green valleys, long rivers and huge glaciers. The area is largely uninhabited and breath-taking in its purity.
The boat tour starts at 9am from the harbour and we will sail along the Ammassalik fjord and from there through the deep fjord Ikasagtivaq to the settlement Tinit (Tinitiqilaaq)
We stop for 2 hours and have lunch on the shore of the ice fjord.
Placed on the lower part of a small peninsula the Tinit settlement offers a spectacular view to the Sermilik fjord where huge icebergs floats by. To the south the fjord Ikâsagtivaq separates Tinit from Ammassalik Island. From the settlement you have a great view to the northern mountains and one of the big glaciers of Ammassalik Island.
Whales are very common in the sea and fjords of Ammassalik. The likelihood of seeing them is therefore high, and a normal boat trip along the coastline and in the fjords can turn into a real whale safari. The best time to see whales in Ammassalik is from the middle of July to the end of September.
We sale in the direction of Semmerlik an ice fjord and our first stop will be in Ikatek, a deserted settlement. Heading back we explore the various formed icebergs and if we are lucky we might see some seals.
We will spend the day in and around Kuummiut, which is situated deep in the Ammassalik Fjord. From the village the view is awe-inspiring along the fjord all the way to the Denmark Strait. The peaks around Kuummiut are extremely tall and steep, reaching the impressive height of 6,500 feet. The village is often a starting point for kayak expeditions and hiking trips.
Helicopter flight / boat tour, depending on weather, to Kulusuk and flight to Reykjavík in the afternoon.
Transfer from Reykjavík to Keflavík airport for departure from Iceland.
Martin is British born though now a Japanese citizen, based in Tokyo. He’s a professional wildlife and nature photographer, with over 25 years of photography experience, and he runs popular tours and workshops worldwide.
Also a Craft & Vision author, an Arcanum Master, a Gura Gear Pro and X-Rite Coloratti member, Martin has also taught at the renowned Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara.
Languages: English and Japanese
Tim is the local expert for this photography adventure, with more than 18 years of photography experience, and has been running photography tours in Iceland and around the world for many years.
Languages: German, English and Icelandic
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The tour costs $7,200 per person for a double or shared room. If you prefer single room to yourself, there is a single supplement of $630 payable with your balance. To book your place, please pay the reservation fee (below) of $1,000 per person by credit card, Paypal or bank transfer. The balance (total cost minus reservation fee) is payable 3 months prior to departure.
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We look forward to seeing you in Iceland, for the photography tour and workshop of a lifetime!
— Martin Bailey & Tim Vollmer