We had big plans on the morning that Discovery delivered us to Ilulissat. The Arctic town is the staging ground for one of the world’s most beautiful natural attractions, the iceberg-choked Disko Bay.
In fact, in the Greenlandic language, Ilulissat means icebergs. The spectacle is so beautiful and the region such a treasure that it was put on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2004.
We had planned to tender ashore to explore the town and make the 40-minute walk to the Sermermiut valley, an old Inuit settlement that in 1727 was Greenland’s largest, with 250 people. The valley leads the way to the icefjord, which we had planned to see on a sailing excursion.
Later, we’d have lunch at the Hotel Arctic, then visit the Knud Rasmussen Museum. We also wanted to see and photograph sled dogs, which are still an important mode of transport here in the north of Greenland (sled dogs are allowed only above the Arctic Circle in Greenland, by the way).
On the mid-August day that we were arrived, sunrise in Ilulissat was shortly after 4 a.m. (the sun had set the night before at 11 a.m.) We awoke to a thick fog, which we hoped would lift before the 8 a.m. tender departures.
At 4 p.m., we were still waiting for the fog to lift. You can imagine our disappointment. Since leaving Reykjavik six days ago, our feet had touched ground for fewer than eight hours, in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital.
We could see almost nothing from the ship except for the thick wall of fog. Defeated by Mother Nature, Discovery’s captain announced that it was “time to call it a day.” He would navigate the ship out of Disko Bay and back to the south of Greenland, as scheduled.
As we were leaving, the fog began to lift, and so did my disappointment. Surrounding us was one of the most beautiful spectacles I’ve ever seen, icebergs everywhere.
The icebergs had been there all along, yet we were not able to see them. What a treat when the curtain was lifted. Click to launch a Flickr slideshow.