Chasing Glaciers in Greenland

Visiting Greenland is like visiting the moon. Mindy Cambiar
Narang visits one of the many melting glaciers in Greenland, where the landscape is rapidly changing. Mandy Cambiar photos.

Exploring Greenland’s Beautiful Glaciers

By Emily Johnson

Greenland, notorious for a name unfitting to its landscape, is a surreal destination for any traveler. With expansive glaciers and a beaming sun in the early hours of the morning, Greenland is truly unlike anywhere else in the world.

Walking the ice pack in Greenland.
Walking the ice pack in Greenland.

Glaciologist Dr. Sarah Aciego and photographer Mindy Cambiar want to take advantage of this gem, so the two have paired to take adventurous travelers on a 12-day, all-inclusive “Glacier Chaser” journey through West Greenland in their Big Chill Adventure.

The adventures include a tour of calving glaciers, palatial icebergs, dogsledding, hut camping with Inuit people, wildlife viewing, a speed boat tour of the fjords surrounding Nuuk, kayaking amongst icebergs, mountain biking primitive trails and helicoptering to a supraglacial lake.

A July-August Adventure in Greenland

Dr. Aciego and Cambiar arrange the trip’s entire itinerary including meals, lodging, and accommodations. “We will take care of everything you need from the time you step off the plane,” Aciego said. The two have scheduled the trip for July 25 to August 5, 2016 for $9,250 per person. Next year’s trips will have a similar time frame.

The itinerary also includes all of the transportation and flights within Greenland and flights to Iceland and back.

Last August Sandip Narang, who is from Ohio, traveled with a friend, Aciego and Cambiar to chase glaciers. The adventure began with a stop in Eqi Sermi, or the “calving glacier”. On the early morning boat ride to the glacier from Ilulissat, they could spot whales.

“The trip focuses on exploring and photographing fantastic landscapes, pristine beauty, and exotic wildlife in one of the last frontiers,” Cambiar said.

Other stops include a strenuous three to four-hour hike to an ice cap with views of the bay, waterfalls, and massive basalt cliffs and a hot springs visit on Disko Island. Guests visit a lagoon and moraine and search for arctic foxes at Port Victor.

On the second day of the trip, guests fly to Kangerlussuaq, the home base for scientific research on Greenland, as well as a helicopter trip over the fjords around the capital city of Nuuk to an inland glacier. Kangerlussuaq was once a US airbase during World War II, capable of landing giant jetliners as well as bombers.

Visiting Nuuk, Greenland

Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, is caught with the coexistence of its indigenous culture and modern technology. The growing pair seemed to be a theme of the trip for Narang, as well as a theme for the present day and future of Greenland. Greenland’s capital city has about 55,000 residents and permanent snow… there are only one or two roads in the whole town.

Travelers enjoyed a spectacular view of the sky on the third day of the trip.
Travelers enjoyed a spectacular view of the sky on the third day of the trip.

The effects of climate change were quite visible and up-close, for Narang and the other travelers. They visited a drained lake that had dried up earlier that day. When visiting a frozen lake, Aciego pointed out many apples at the bottom of the ice that someone clearly had dropped there.

Narang saw this as reflective of our general thinking as humans. “We think nature will just take care of it,” he said. And areas like Greenland are getting hit so harshly by the drastic effects of climate change.

Glaciers in Nuuk

The group visited a lake that had been frozen a week prior, that they could have even walked on days prior. It is clear that the speed at which the ice sheets are melting is rapidly increasing and is changing the landscape of Greenland.

Narang said that it was largely such a successful trip because of Aciego’s knowledge of the location. Aciego, a former professor of Glaciology at the University of Michigan, has led scientific expeditions to Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska, and the Canadian Rockies.

Narang boasted about Aciego’s ability to pinpoint where glaciers were positioned at different points in time in relation to where they are currently, and he boasted about how much he learned on this tour.

Beautiful Greenland

Strolling the ice fields of Greenland.
Strolling the ice fields of Greenland.

Besides the educational component of his visit, Narang was also astounded by Greenland’s beautiful landscape. “It was stunning. I’ve traveled quite a bit, but this was completely something else – so serene,” he said. For Narang, this trip of rarities included reading at two o’clock in the morning by sunlight.

Unlike other travel destinations, Narang said how far out they were that they did not see people. The small group allowed for a more intimate experience engaging with the beautiful landscape.

Narang said, “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To understand the wonder of the world, you need to go to these untouched parts.”

Find out more at Big Chill

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