Ilulissat in Pictures – Part 2

Ilulissat in Pictures – Part 1

There are few places that are so stunning, that no words are needed, as photographs do the talking. Ilulissat on the West coast of Greenland is one such destination. (more…)

Why There’s No Place On This Planet Like Ilulissat

In an earlier post I wrote about why Greenland is off the radar for most tourists. In this post I’m drawing up a list of the most compelling reasons to plan a trip to Greenland – and to Ilulissat in particular, as I’ve only visited Ilulissat.

Arctic Hotel Igloos - Ilulissat Icefjord
Arctic Hotel Igloos – Ilulissat Icefjord


Why Greenland Is Off the Tourist Grid

If there was a term as ‘un-tourist destination’, it would best fit Greenland. A part of me does not want to write about Greenland – because I don’t want Greenland to become the next tourist hotspot. But that’s not about to happen unless the Government of Greenland decided to splurge a lot of tax dollars on promoting the country internationally as a tourist destination.

Here are a few measures of how ‘not-well-connected’ Greenland is:

  • From the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, there are all of 8 outbound flights of which only one is an international flight – to Reykjavik, Iceland
  • From Kangerlussuaq, which is a key international transport hub in Greenland, there are 7 flights, of which only one is an international flight – to Copenhagen, Denmark
  • There is no rail or road network connecting the towns in Greenland. To get from one town to the next – the options are: flight, boat, and in winter – dog sled.

If the accessibility was not daunting, the price one has to pay to land in Greenland does the trick to keep most tourists at bay. Ilulissat, which attracts the most tourists in Greenland every year, is connected to Copenhagen (with a stop at Kangerlussuaq). Copenhagen-Ilulissat-Copenhagen on Air Greenland, booked 4 months in advance, is for a little over 7200 DKK. Or if you flew Air Iceland which has a direct connection to Ilulissat from Reykjavik, the round trip (Reykjavik-Ilulissat-Reykjavik) – again booked 4 months in advance – is a little over €1400.

Your bank account can handle this punch? Well, it’s just the start. The real fun and games starts once you land in Greenland. Let’s assume you pick Ilulissat as your destination – as most other first-time visitors do. Kayaking in summer from 10 pm to 12 midnight is an activity that I would strongly recommend. I did this on my birthday. You’re not allowed to take a camera or even a mobile phone on the water, but the experience will be etched in your mind forever. At 69.2° N, and 220 miles north of the Arctic Circle, this is the land of the midnight sun. Kayaking at 11 pm – with the sun shining – making your way through traffic that takes the shape of icebergs all over the fjord – the experience is unparalleled. The 2 hour experience (with a professional and certified kayaking expert) costs 1540 DKK per person – which is about USD 225.

A 35-minute flight safari over the ice fjord costs 1795 DKK per passenger. For a totally epic experience, sign up for the ‘master explorer’ which is for 90 minutes – taking you to Eqi to see the calving glacier, the Greenlandic Tundra, the Isua glacier, moraine edge of Kangia, some wildlife – the cost – 4695 DKK per passenger.

Lastly – Hotel Arctic is the address to stay at in Ilulissat. It’s the world’s most northerly 4-star hotel with a 5 star conference center and our stay at this hotel was absolutely perfect. One night here in their most basic room starts at 2125 DKK.

These are some of the reasons why the world’s largest island (it’s not Australia!) continues to remain a dream destination for most – right up there with the likes of Baffin Island, Tibet, and Antarctica.

Photo Essay – The Faroe Islands from Above

This post is a photo essay of the Faroe Islands as seen from an Atlantic Airways helicopter.

We took the Atlantic Airways helicopter from Tórshavn to get to Suðuroy (for an overnight stay). The following morning, we took a boat Suðuroy to return to Tórshavn.

The helicopter ride is a unique experience as you get to see the Faroe Islands in a very different perspective and scale. There is no direct flight to Suðuroy – so it’s three-leg journey. Tórshavn to Skúvoy in about 15 minutes – a 5 minute stop on Skúvoy as some travelers disembark and others get on-board. Then on to Dímun in about 5 minutes – a quick pit stop here too for travelers to get off / on. And lastly to the final destination Suðuroy – the last leg is for about 10 minutes.Faroe Islands from Above 1

This three-leg journey works well because you get to see more of the Faroes than what would be possible on a direct flight from Tórshavn to Suðuroy. (more…)

The Best Breakfast in Tórshavn

I will start this post by clarifying that I’ve not had breakfast at all the cafés in Tórshavn. I was in Tórshavn for five days and did something different for breakfast on each of those days. And since there aren’t 50 cafés to choose from in Tórshavn, when I use the superlative (in ‘Best’ Breakfast in Tórshavn), I don’t think I’m way out of line in my estimate or taking a shot in the dark.

The best breakfast in Tórshavn is at Kaffi Húsið. At the marina, the location of Kaffi Húsið is splendid and a catnip for photographers. While the interior is not particularly atmospheric – the location is perfect. In summer, many customers (mostly locals) choose to sit outside and enjoy the summer sun. (more…)

The Definitive Guide to Reaching the Kallur Lighthouse

The November / December 2007 edition of National Geographic Traveler magazine carried the results of a comprehensive survey of 111 island communities. The purpose of the survey was to find the best islands in the world – where best essentially amounted to being pristine and a high likelihood to remain so in the near future. The Faroe Islands were ranked #1 – ahead of islands such as Azores (Portugal), Lofoten (Norway) and Isle of Skye (Scotland).

The photograph of the Faroe Islands that's inspired many travelers
The photograph of the Faroe Islands that’s inspired many travelers

It’s this photograph that captured my imagination – and so, when the trip to the Faroe Islands was finally planned many years later, not hiking to this lighthouse was not really an option. (more…)

Eat Like a Local in the Faroe Islands – Get Some Skyr

First off, Skyr is not Faroese. It’s Icelandic. In fact, it’s as Icelandic as fish and chips is British. But it’s very popular in the Faroe Islands and if you’re not headed to any other Scandinavian country, then you should get your fix of Skyr in the Faroes.

Four of the many delicious flavors of Skyr
Four of the many delicious flavors of Skyr


Impossibly Beautiful Houses with Grass Roofs in the Faroe Islands

Who does not like the hobbit-esque grass roofs of the Faroe Islands? I for one couldn’t stop myself from trying to photograph as many of them as I could.

In the Faroe Islands there's a charming grass roof house at every corner
In the Faroe Islands there’s a charming grass roof house at every corner

Our guide in Tórshavn (Sámal Bláhamar) explained that turf roofs are more expensive than the regular alternative – and to an extent they are about showing one’s wealth in an obtuse way. (more…)

Scheduling a Trip to the Scenic Waterfall in Gásadalur

This post is essentially about why we drove straight off to the village of Gásadalur after landing in the Faroe Islands (and why you may want to do the same).

We landed at Vágar airport after having changed three flights. That is not a gripe. If there were direct flights to the Faroes from three cities in the U.S. and 25 cities in Europe – the islands would have to abandon the ‘unspoiled, unexplored, unbelievable’ tag line. It’s the remoteness of the islands that fuels their otherworldly charm. (more…)