Kayaking among icebergs in Ilulissat, Greenland

Lena Wilderäng

After I finished sailing in Greenland, I came back to Ilulissat to do some kayaking among the icebergs. In retrospective, it's one of the most beautiful things I've enjoyed since a very long time.

Great weather to get out into the water!

At this time, it was already mid-September. There were still a few nice days of Autumn to enjoy before the winter would tighten the grip. A couple of degrees above freezing point, a beautiful sun that still lingers above the horizon well into the afternoon, and not too much wind or waves - perfect!

90% of the iceberg is always below the surface.

Kayaking in the Arctic requires good safety equipment, like the dry suit and the vest. Also, you have to be aware of the risks around here. There are no ice bears around in this location, unlike in other places where it's a real danger. However, there is still the iceberg situation, with the most productive glacier in the world (except for Antarctica) just around the corner. The icebergs are to be given a wide berth, since they may break, turn around or crack. There also may be an ice foot underneath the surface, which can damage the kayak or break off and sink you altogether.

Despite everything, it's one of the most beautiful things I've done.

It's not really possible to avoid all ice when kayaking there, and the ice is also the main part of the adventure! But it's wise to avoid the big icebergs, and not to crash too hard into the smaller one with the kayak, so it does not get damaged.

Sun setting into the icy waters. Absolutely stunning.

This kayaking trip was short, just to look at the surroundings and get a feel of kayaking through ice. It was such an epic feeling, that I promptly decided to get back for a longer expedition.

Ice thickens. At the distance, a fishing boat is heading back into harbor.

Last rays of light. Impossible to stop taking photos.

I finished up the evening by climbing some ice floes! The dry suit allows being in the ice cold water comfortably for a long time, so I could swim to the ice floe of my choice without any trouble. The hard part is that the hands are unprotected and get very cold in the water. It gets painful very fast. It's a matter of habit though - the locals do the winter fishing and fish cleaning by hand in freezing cold temperatures and wind, and sometimes dip the hands into the ice wake to warm them in the water...

Standing on an ice floe, in the sunset!

At the place where I stayed, there were two Danish kayakers who had just been on a long hike and told me about their experiences. There were only two of them kayaking. During a hike into a lake, one of them slipped while bathing and hurt his foot on a rock. The cut was not too deep, but it hit an artery and he had to be evacuated. Now they were resting at the hostel, waiting to get help to retrieve the kayaks. It was interesting to hear how they handled it, and I also shared the story of my ecavuation from this Spring. They were also very happy to have brought a sat unit with a SOS button. It should never replace preparation and proper equipment, but in tough situations with injuries and harsh conditions it's truly a life-saver.

Already longing to get back for more - will organize some kayaking trips next summer!

As I got back home from the kayaking trip, I enjoyed some local shellfish and reindeer meat. Then, I packed my bag for the airport and went to rest. Just one night left in Greenland, but I will be coming back! I am looking at the possibility to cross David Strait, and possibly do some serious hiking on Bylot Island. At any rate, I will also come back to Ilulissat's ice-strewn waters to do some more serious kayaking! I will be organising one kayaking trip for beginner/intermediate kayakers, and one for advanced adventurers. Stay tuned!

Lena Wilderäng