Experience Winter in the Arctic | Uummannaq & Ilulissat | from Iceland
? Join us for this 8-day trip of a lifetime and visit both the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ilulissat Icefjord and the more unknown but stunningly beautiful Uummannaq Fjord.
In Ilulissat you will experience the full scale of the enormous icebergs that calve off the fastest moving glacier in Greenland. It is widely believed the iceberg that sunk the Titanic originated here. You will also have the opportunity to witness the spectacular Northern Lights dance across the sky (weather and solar activity permitting).
In Uummannaq, you will travel as the Inuit do on a full-day dogsled excursion around the island, try your hand at ice fishing (for both your own dinner and that of the sled dogs), and head off across the sea ice on a snowmobile to visit one of the nearby smaller settlements.
Click on the Itinerary tab to read more information about each day of the tour, and then reserve your place on this exploration of winter in the Arctic by clicking on Book Now.
Your tour departs from the Domestic Airport near the center of Reykjavik, Iceland. Try to sit in a window seat for spectacular views of mountains, glaciers, icebergs and the great Greenland Icesheet as you fly all the way over the world’s largest island to arrive in Ilulissat.
Once you have settled in to your accommodation, our first excursion is a hike out to Sermermiut Valley. This site was inhabited 4,000 years ago and it is still possible to see the outlines of more recent settlement, depending on the depth of the snow. Discover why this was such an important place for the Inuit, and marvel at the incredible views of the enormous icebergs that have frozen in the place of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ilulissat Icefjord.
After sunset, make sure you head outside to see the magical Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) dance across the sky (weather and solar activity permitting). For the very best experience, we recommend booking an optional Northern Lights tour which will take you to the darkest locations on the outskirts of Ilulissat.
Spend the day exploring Ilulissat as you wish. The Ultimate Guide to Ilulissat here on Guide to Greenland highlights all the different things to see and do in town, and is the best online guide available.
As you walk around town, you will likely come across many Greenlandic sled dogs. Please remember that they are working dogs, not pets. You should not approach any chained dog without the owner present, and even then - only if given the go-ahead. If unchained puppies run up to you or follow you, that’s fine. Just don’t go near the chained dogs.
In the evening we will set sail amidst the enormous icebergs at the mouth of the Icefjord. Cruising past these towers of ice and looking up at them from the water gives an even better sense of their scale. Remember - we only see the top 10% of the iceberg! Winter sunsets are always spectacular with the soft pastel sky providing a beautiful backdrop to these ice sculptures.
Today you will travel North to the small town of Uummannaq. Its name in the Greenlandic language means “like a heart”, as its houses cluster at the base of a heart-shaped mountain that dominates the small island on which it is located.
Getting there is an adventure in itself!
Firstly you will take an hour-long flight from Ilulissat to the airport of Qaarsut. There you will transfer to a helicopter for a short but very scenic flight over the frozen fjord to Uummannaq. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your accommodation where you can either rest or head out to explore the town.
Dinner will be a warm meal of locally sourced produce. While we eat, we will talk about the itinerary for your time in Uummannaq and also tell you stories about the area.
Fishing is one of the key occupations of Uummannaq. Today we will walk out onto the sea ice past the sled dogs to try our own hand at this primary industry. There may even be a large iceberg close enough for us to visit.
The local fishermen actually go quite far into the fjord to catch halibut but we will stay closer to town. We will drill a hole in the ice, set up a long line, and catch fish for both our own dinner and that of the sled dogs you will meet tomorrow.
Once back in town, you have the opportunity to make your own small souvenir out of reindeer antler, sealskin, and other bits and pieces. Have a think about what you might like to make beforehand, or we can offer some suggestions. In Greenland, no part of an animal that is caught is wasted, and the tradition of making clothes, mittens and hunting tools is still alive today - especially during the dark winter days.
Uummannaq is located on a small island and, when the fjord freezes over each winter, the only way to travel longer distances is with either dogsled or snowmobile. You will experience both over the next 2 days.
First of all, we’ll start with the more traditional form of dogsledding.
The Inuit have used dogs for thousands of years as a mode of Winter transportation, and dogsledding is one of the top must-do activities when visiting the Arctic during the winter months.
Your dogsled driver (musher) will introduce you to the dogs and indicate which ones you may pet. They will also provide advice about how best to sit on the sled and get the most out of the experience. Then, once the dogs are hitched, we will head out onto the sea-ice for a tour around the island of Uummannaq.
Along the way we will stop off at enormous icebergs that have been frozen in place for the winter. We may also have the opportunity to meet some local fishermen and, if we are lucky, see seals on the ice. We will take our lunch with us for an icy picnic in the area North of the island, and stop in at Santa’s house for some coffee, tea and cookies. Santa may be busy and not at home, but we will relate stories about him and his elves in Greenland.
Daily life in Uummannaq is a mixture of the traditional and the modern. During our morning town-walk we will point out both aspects - talking about the history of the Inuit in the area, the era of missionaries, whalers and merchants starting from the 1700s, and how things are today in modern Greenland. You should let us know if you have a special interest you would like us to focus on, and we are happy to answer any questions as we visit key locations throughout the town.
In the afternoon, we will take off on a newer model of Winter transportation and visit a nearby small settlement on a snowmobile. Life here is even more traditional than in Uummannaq and dictated by the weather, the movement of the ice and tide, and where the animals are found.
Your last morning in Uummannaq is yours to use as you wish.
At the appropriate time, we will transfer you to the heliport where you will retrace your journey of 3 days ago to arrive in Ilulissat via Qaarsut. However, this time as you look down on the frozen landscape below, your perception of it will have changed - having experienced it closely as the locals do over the past few days.
Once you arrive back in Ilulissat, you will be transferred to your accommodation and then have the rest of the afternoon to use as you wish. Remember to check out the Ultimate Guide to Ilulissat here on Guide to Greenland for all your options.
Your flight back to Iceland is scheduled for around noon and your transfer to the airport will occur about 1.5 hours beforehand. Enjoy a relaxing morning watching the icebergs, or head out to purchase some last minute souvenirs, or take one last walk around town before your departure.
We look forward to seeing you back in Greenland soon!
• Flights: Reykjavik - Ilulissat - Reykjavik
• Flights: Ilulissat - Uummannaq - Ilulissat
• Accommodation and breakfast in Ilulissat
• Accommodation and all meals in Uummannaq
• Hiking tour to Sermermiut Valley in Ilulissat
• Boat tour amongst the icebergs in Ilulissat
• Ice fishing in Uummannaq
• Dogsledding around Uummannaq Island
• Snowmobile ride to a settlement from Uummannaq
• City Tour in Uummannaq
- Lunch and dinner in Ilulissat
- Optional evening tour in Ilulissat, unless you add it in the "Book your Tour" box
- Airport taxes and fees
- Travel insurance
- Lunch on flight days
- Unexpected expenses as a result of weather conditions (including difficulties or cancellations due to ice or weather conditions) or flight or boat delays
- Accommodation, transfers and food in Reykjavík or Copenhagen
What to bring
- Warm winter wear. Ideally, you should dress in layers: at least one thermal underwear layer (top and bottom), activity layer (e.g. hiking pants and shirt), and insulation layer (e.g. fleece or down jacket). The outer layer must be proper winter gear which typically has lots of insulation and is windproof. Think ski jacket and pants if you come from a warmer climate.
- Warm hat, thick windproof gloves, buff or scarf
- Insulated winter boots
- Sunglasses and sunscreen - snow is very bright and even the winter sun can cause sunburn
- Camera with extra batteries (the cold drains the batteries faster)
- Day pack
- Water bottle
- Depending on the availability of flights to Greenland, a flight supplement may apply.
- 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.
- Bad weather may also require changes to the itinerary. We will determine each day whether it is safe to undertake the planned excursion or if adjustments need to be made.
- 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.
Our customers are the foundation of Guide to Greenland so we make great efforts to provide you with the best possible service.
We are located in Greenland and cooperate with everyone involved in the Greenlandic tourism industry. We are therefore perfectly placed to quickly react to changes or new wishes you may have to ensure you have the trip of a lifetime.
The earlier you book your trip, the better the prices will be, and the more likely you will be able to book the tour you want for the dates/times you want.
Package tours can be sold out more than half a year in advance (note that Guide to Greenland does not include international flights in packages, except where indicated from Iceland or Denmark). Day trips may sell out closer to your arrival date, but for popular destinations, certain dates/times can also sell out months in advance. We recommend that you secure all of your experiences by booking them well in advance of your trip.
All cancellations must be made via e-mail.
Although Guide to Greenland is committed to ensuring the best protection and service for our customers in the event of a cancellation, we are obliged to charge cancellation fees. This is in accordance with Greenland travel industry business practices. Details can be found in our general cancellation policy
Note: Due to COVID-19, a temporary cancellation policy applies. You can find it in the footer of the website under the “Terms & Conditions”.