The One With Icebergs Excursion At Disko Bay – A Tale Of Midnight Sun, Restaurant Ulo & The Ilimanaq

The Excursion to Ilimanaq

These were literally the tips of the icebergs.

After spending two years traveling down some 50 kms crashing into each other, flipping over, breaking apart and exploding into air, these icebergs were a natural wonder too big for words to describe.

Sights of Disko Bay

The drama unfolds daily in Disko Bay, with icebergs of all sizes fighting, clashing and dominating one another. One has to travel this far up to north to witness them in person to fully experience the awe it inspires even amongst the most jaded travelers.

disko bay

I have never been so cold in my life. The early morning mist and fog cleared up in time for our first journey into the settlement of Ilimanaq. Cold breeze was blowing incessantly throughout our boat journey, necessitating the use of all of my cold wear, and that gotta be a first. If I was shaking uncontrollably in front of the boat, I was usually found huddled inside with the captain, sometime immersing in the warm offered by a cup of coffee. When you in the wildnerness up north, every small bit is a comfort.

The Excursion to Ilimanaq

Soon, we draw upon the Ilimanaq. Ilimanaq, also known as “Place of Expectations” in the local language Kalaalisut, is home to some just 84 inhabitants in 2010. The number could have increased by the time I visited, but looking across the tiny village perched at the periphery of this vast, vast land, Ilimanaq feels tiny and insignificant. The settlement itself, despite being promoted as untouched by modernity since the 1980s, has obviously caught up with time since the guide was written.

The Excursion to Ilimanaq

While the island is sparsely populated, it is by no means isolated. One would think a Greenlandic village to be unspoilt by technology and is serenity itself, but yet… though Starbucks has yet to make a landing at Ilimanaq, I can’t say this is really a village. The only consolation was the many wolf-life sleddogs tied throughout the island, like some morbid kind of pets. Trust me, they are far from being friendly. The Greenlandics, on the other hand, were far outnumbered by their transport canines. All in all I wasn’t that heavyhearted to leave Ilimanag to return to civilisation, relatively speaking.

View from Hotel Arctic

We made it back in time for our dinner at Restaurant Ulo at Hotel Arctic. While we were waiting for our table, we explored the unique accommodation choice at Hotel Arctic – some metal domed igloo-like room placed outdoor, facing the icebergs. You can’t ask for more dramatic room view than this. As I enjoy a pint of cold beer on its spacious terrace, I saw to my shock a group of seagulls enjoying their fish dinner. The iceberg was splattered red. I felt awed, if a bit terrified, by this display of raw nature. I am truly a city boy in my heart.

Restaurant Ulo at Hotel Arctic

It was a great experience at Ulo Restaurant. And a great shame. Great experience because the food was truly Michelin-grade, complete with some of the best service I have ever encountered, but great shame because we were too rushed for time to finish our 7-course tapas. But I would recommend this restaurant with no hesitation. The experience certainly deserves a separate blog post on its own.

Midnight Sun Excursion at Disko Bay

And then it was back on the boat for an iceberg excursion under the midnight sun. Midnight sun because the sun here truly never sets. At the very best we have two hours of partial darkness before everything brightens up again.

Midnight Sun Excursion at Disko Bay

But under the “midnight” sun, the icebergs took on a magical quality. The air seems heavier with anticipation for yet another complete cycle of the day, and burst into celebration with multiple colours spreading across the sky… including rainbows.

It was truly a sight to behold. I am lucky, lucky to be here.

Midnight Sun Excursion at Disko Bay

See more of my Greenland 2013 posts:
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