Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days

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Tour starts
Reykjavik, Flexible
Duration:
8 days
Languages:
English
Difficulty:
Easy
Available:
February

Are you a keen photographer wanting to improve your skills while capturing stunning winter images of one of the most famous locations in Greenland? Join us on this 8-day photography adventure to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ilulissat Icefjord - one of the most picturesque places on the planet.

The name “Ilulissat” means “Icebergs” in the Greenlandic language. Here you will find some of the largest icebergs in the world, and it is widely believed that the iceberg that sank the Titanic originated from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier that sits at the head of this Icefjord. Photographing these enormous ice sculptures from both land and sea is a key focus of this trip. 

As is photography of the brightly coloured houses that are so characteristic of Greenland. While Ilulissat is filled with colourful buildings, it is now Greenland’s third largest city and quite modern. We will therefore travel North to the small Inuit settlement of Oqaatsut to spend several days photographing a more traditional way of life. 

Oqaatsut is also a wonderful place to learn how to photograph the magical Northern Lights (weather and solar activity permitting). Due to the small population and limited light pollution, we will not need to go far to find interesting compositions that will enhance the images you capture. 

The backdrop to all of this is the pristine white snow and the gorgeous pastel colours of sunrises and sunsets during the Arctic Winter. Your experienced photographic tutor will be able to assist you with both the technical and creative aspects of making the most of the spectacular light you will encounter, and ensure you return home with new photography skills and outstanding images of this remote paradise. 

Scroll down to see more information in the full itinerary, and then reserve your place by clicking on “Book your tour” above.

Included

Accommodation in Greenland
Transfers from/to Ilulissat airport
All meals
Boat transfer Ilulissat - Oqaatsut - Ilulissat
Sunset sail amongst the icebergs on the first evening
Skilled photography tutors to help with everything from composition to post-processing

Activities

Northern Lights
Iceberg Views
Boat Tour
Settlement Visit
Photo Tour

Attractions

Ilulissat Icefjord
Ilulissat
Oqaatsut

Daily itinerary

Day 1
Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days - day 1

Arrival in Ilulissat

After you arrive at Ilulissat airport, you will be transferred to your accommodation in the small but vibrant city of Ilulissat. The hotel we use is modern and well-run with comfortable rooms and an incredible view of the massive icebergs floating in Disko Bay.

Depending on your arrival time, you may like to just relax in front of the slideshow-worthy view from the hotel, or you could head out for a short stroll around the town. There is no shortage of colourful houses to photograph, and Ilulissat’s Zion’s Church is one of the most iconic man-made structures in Greenland. You will also likely come across many sled dogs as you walk around. If they are on chains, please do not approach them without their owner. Puppies that have not yet been put on the chain are likely to approach you and follow you and that’s fine - so long as you don’t go near the adult dogs.

The tour will officially start at 16:00 in the reception area of the hotel with a briefing and image presentation. We will then have an early dinner before setting sail amongst the enormous icebergs on a private boat. The timing of this excursion is to take advantage of the dramatic light that often accompanies the sunset - perfect for capturing spectacular photographs of the icebergs.

Day 2
Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days - day 2

Explore Ilulissat

We will spend the next two days exploring Ilulissat and its surroundings. We will take you to all the most picturesque parts of town, as well as hike out to the best viewpoints of the Ilulissat Icefjord.

However, you may also like to choose from several optional activities (at extra cost) such as:

* Travelling as the hunters do via dogsled. There are no roads in Greenland, so getting around during winter is necessarily done by boat (ice-conditions permitting), snowshoe, skis, snowmobile or (more traditionally) dogsled. This is one of the oldest Inuit traditions that is still practiced today and one of the must-do experiences of the Arctic. Test your photography skills by taking images while on the sled, and make sure you capture before and after photos as your dog sled driver (musher) tends to his dogs.

* Exploring the back-country via snowmobile or snowshoe. This allows you to travel further afield to capture different landscapes to add to your winter photo collection from Ilulissat.

* Taking a scenic helicopter flight over the Icefjord. Depending on the exact timing of the tour, those interested in aerial photography may be able to arrange a helicopter flight to capture the magnificent Ilulissat Icefjord and its enormous icebergs from the air.

We recommend that you read the Ultimate Guide to Ilulissat here on Guide to Greenland to discover all your options for exploring the city.

Day 3
Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days - day 3

Explore Ilulissat

We continue our exploration of Ilulissat. There is plenty of time to engage in one of the optional tours, explore with us or on your own, or hang out and relax to take in the views without your camera for a while.

Day 4
Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days - day 4

Travel to Oqaatsut

After lunch, we will board a private boat and sail north to the small Inuit settlement of Oqaatsut (Rødebay).

Oqaatsut is very typical of the era before Denmark enacted a program to move Greenlanders into larger towns. There are only about 45 people living here, a school with 4-8 students (typically), a grocery store, a community house, and many very picturesque and colourful houses that often have enormous icebergs as their backdrop. Fishing and hunting form the main occupations of the residents, and it is common to find Greenlandic sled dogs, sledges and leads, fish drying on racks, sealskins and other furs, and animal skulls scattered around the small community. We also often come across fisherman hunched over holes in the local sea-ice trying their luck.

It is a photographer’s paradise!

We will be staying at a small hotel with warm, comfortable, well-furnished rooms and a shared bathroom. The dining room has great views of the mountains and the settlement, and your food will be provided and cooked by locals. It may be possible to take a warm shower at the community house next to the hotel, but keep in mind that these may not be operating due to frozen pipes. Such is the reality for the inhabitants who live in this small community.

Due to its small size and limited light pollution our time in Oqaatsut will be perfect for photographing the magnificent Northern Lights (if the weather and solar activity cooperates). We have extensive experience in photographing this magical natural light-show and will teach you the secrets so you can capture your own incredible images. Please note: you must bring your own sturdy tripod to do this successfully.

Day 5
Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days - day 5

Explore the Oqaatsut Settlement

We continue our exploration of Oqaatsut.

If you didn’t want to arrange a dogsled tour in Ilulissat, it may also possible to go dogsledding from Oqaatsut (at extra cost).

Day 6
Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days - day 6

Explore the Oqaatsut Settlement

We continue our exploration of Oqaatsut.

Day 7
Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days - day 7

Return to Ilulissat and farewell dinner

After breakfast we will return to Ilulissat and the Icefjord, where we will spend more time exploring this remarkable city.

The energetic may wish to join a hike to Sermermiut - the location of an ancient settlement where the remains of dwellings may be visible depending on snow conditions. At the very least you will see the spectacular views of the Icefjord and hear about why the Inuit chose this particular location for their settlement (it wasn’t just for the views).

You may also like to take an additional, optional sail through the icebergs at sunset (at extra cost) for the final chance to capture their ever-changing and intricate shapes against the spectacular pastels of the Arctic winter sky.

In the evening, we will meet again at the hotel to share a farewell dinner.

Day 8
Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days - day 8

Photo slideshow and onward journey

At our get-together on the final morning, we will showcase some of the best images taken on the tour. This is also an opportunity for final goodbyes before catching your transfer at an appropriate time out to Ilulissat’s small airport.

If you would like to extend your stay - have a look at the other tours and destinations available to you here on Guide to Greenland.

What to bring

Warm winter wear. Ideally, you should dress in layers with windproof clothing (top and bottom) making up the outermost part. Don’t forget your warm hat, gloves, buff or scarf, and insulated boots!
Camera with extra batteries (the cold drains the batteries faster)
Sturdy tripod - especially if you plan to capture Northern Lights photographs

Good to know

The maximum group size is 12. We specialise in small-group photographic tours and workshops offering individual tuition in all aspects of the photographic process: from composition and capture to the development (post-processing) of your images. We spend a lot of time in each location to ensure we photograph with the best light.

If traveling alone, you must choose the single room supplement when booking this tour.

Trips to Greenland are always subject to weather conditions. Delays and flight cancellations can happen. We therefore strongly recommend that you do not book onward international flights directly after your trip to Greenland. Give yourself at least one extra day to make an international connection. We also recommend purchasing travel insurance that will cover any expenses should your flights be delayed or cancelled due to bad weather.

The airlines that fly to Greenland only allow 20 kg of checked-in baggage. If you go over this limit, there is a fee (often strictly enforced) for the extra weight.

It is important to bring cash in the form of Danish Krona to Greenland. While credit cards are accepted in larger locations (eg hotels, supermarkets), they may not be accepted elsewhere. Foreign currency is often not accepted.

There is a 3-hour time difference between Iceland and West Greenland in the winter and a 2-hour time difference in the summer.

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