Icebergs, Inuit Settlements and Aurora Phototour | Ilulissat | 8 days
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Transfers from/to Ilulissat airport
- Accommodation in Greenland
- All meals
- Boat transfer Ilulissat - Oqaatsut - Ilulissat
- Sunset sail amongst the icebergs on the first evening
- Snowmobile transport to some locations
- Internal flight Ilulissat-Uummannaq-Ilulissat
- Skilled photography tutors to help with everything from composition to post-processing
- International flights
- Single supplement if travelling alone
- Beverages, alcohol or additional items ordered during meals
- Optional activities such as Aerial Flights, dogsledding, additional boat cruises, etc
- Anything not mentioned in the included list
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
- A camera with interchangeable lenses such as a digital
SLR or a mirrorless system camera.
- A set of lenses to cover the whole range from wideangle to telephoto, for example…
For full-frame cameras: 16–35mm wide-angle, 24–
105mm mid-range and a 70–200mm or longer tele
zoom. For crop format cameras: 10–20mm wide-angle,
17–50mm mid-range and a 70–200mm or longer tele
- Spare camera (highly recommended)
- Sturdy tripod – not only useful for low light photography but also for accurate framing and composition
of landscape and close-up images.
- Cable release – mechanical or electronic remote to
avoid shake on long exposures.
- Neutral density, graduated flters and polariser, if you
use these. At least a neutral density flter in the range
of 4–6 stops would be a good addition to your kit.
- Rain cover for camera and camera bag.
- Suffcient memory cards for the whole holiday as it may
not be possible to buy more during the trip.
- A laptop with the image editing applications of your
choice, essential for checking and presenting images
during the trip and for one-on-one sessions with the
tutor. The hotels have WiFi but it can be slow at times.
|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.|
Terms of service
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".