The enchanting Disko Bay
The rumble of calving glaciers drowns out the sound of whales exhaling. In the magnificent Disko Bay, nature really shows itself in its full glory. The wild landscape on Greenland's west coast is both varied and grandiose, and stands in contrast to the stillness that prevails in the periphery. A trip here leaves no one untouched, not even the pickiest traveller.
Disko Bay is the most visited place in Greenland, and it's easy to understand why. It is an almost overwhelming sight to cruise amongst icebergs that rise up to 100 meters above sea level. It is Ilulissat’s four-mile-long ice fjord that opens into the bay and brings a stream of shiny icebergs in all shapes and forms. The shades of blue, white and turquoise make the landscape almost fairytale-like. Jakobshavn Isbrae, or Sermeq Kujalleq as the Inuit call it, is the world's fastest calving glacier, calving an estimated 40 cubic kilometers of icebergs per year. It was probably an iceberg from this glacier that sank the Titanic. The Ilulissat Icefjord fjord has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2004.
A trip through Disko Bay also offers good opportunities for unforgettable wildlife encounters. In the fjords, walruses, seals and several different whale species are frequently seen (click here to learn more about the whale species you can encounter), and on land you have the chance to meet reindeer, Arctic hares and Arctic foxes.
The villages around the bay are characterized by old traditions and a large part of the population still lives mainly on fishing and hunting.
Ilulissat – the city of icebergs
It is no coincidence that the name Ilulissat means iceberg, considering the surroundings that the city is characterized by. With its 5 000 inhabitants and 2 000 sled dogs, Ilulissat is Greenland's third largest and one of the most well-known towns. The stream of icebergs is what attracts most visitors, but many are also interested in the fascinating culture and history. The unique fishing and hunting opportunities that the ice fjord brought with it created early conditions for settlement. Today, old traditions coexist with a growing modern society. The colourful houses are scattered along the coast, against the background of the mighty glacier. The views are magnificent and there is also a rich wildlife here. Among other things, you have a great chance of seeing whales, birds and seals.
Disko Island – the island´s largest island
Disko Island, the largest island along the coast of Greenland, is nestled in the shimmering Disko Bay. Its lush and volcanic nature provides a striking contrast to the backdrop of sea and shiny icebergs. The environment also offers beautiful walks among unique rock formations, black sand beaches and untouched greenery. According to Greenlandic folklore, the unique flora is due to the fact that the island was once moved here from the south by two kayaking salesmen. A witch's spell is said to have caused it to remain. In fact, it is the presence of hot springs that makes the vegetation richer than in other places at the same latitude. The Greenlandic name for Disko Island is the same as the island's only settlement – Qeqertarsuag. The small town, with its barely a thousand inhabitants and location on the southern coast of the island, is by many considered to be the most photogenic in Greenland. It is not hard to understand when you see the multi-coloured houses against the mighty red-tinted basalt rock wall. At the top is the Lyngmark glacier, which is covered in snow all year round and offers a wonderful view. Many whales thrive a little extra in this corner of Disko Bay, which makes the experience even more special.
Saqqaq - The sunny side
The Saqqag people are considered to be Greenland's first inhabitants, and archaeological finds testify to habitation here over 4 000 years ago. Today, the small village of Saqqaq on the southern side of the Nuussuaq peninsula has about 200 inhabitants. The name Saqqaq refers to its geographical location, and means precisely the sunny side. It is a well-functioning settlement with shared communal shower and bathhouses and a distinct hunting and fishing culture. Hannibal's House and Garden is a legacy from Hannibal Fencker, who is also popularly called "The King of Saqqaq". His greenhouse was for a long time the world’s northernmost and here he managed to grow subtropical plants such as dates and lemons.
Uummannaq – the heart-shaped outpost
The small town of Uummannaq is located on the island with the same name and is often mentioned in connection to Disko Bay, although it is actually located just above the area. The name Uummannaq comes from the heart-shaped mountain that rises high above the city. There is also an old saying that a small piece of every visitor's heart remains on the island as Uummannaq has the ability to make them long to return. There are ten glaciers in the area, which means that you can simultaneously have hundreds of icebergs within sight. If you're lucky, you can even spot whales. There is a special calm in this outpost, where the town is mainly built on top of rocks. However, you will find most attractions concentrated around the harbour. The big red post box behind the church is eye-catching and it is here that all letters addressed to Father Christmas end up. The hundreds of letters from children around the world are then delivered to his office where students and volunteers help answer and spread Christmas cheer.
Experience Greenland’s untamed wilderness with the elegant 12-passenger ship M/S Balto, designed to explore the most remote fjord systems, visit isolated Inuit settlements and take you to secret anchorages. Greenland’s spectacular coastline offers some of the most remarkable nature experiences. The Arctic landscape is dominated by ice-filled fjords, majestic peaks and vast tundra.