Dates: 16-26 August 2017 (10 days, 10 nights)
Price: $3,900 - $4,440 USD or € or DKK equivalent
Availability: closed to new bookings, enquire to be notified of 2018's similar trip
Greenland is one of those iconic destinations for any world traveller, and is rapidly becoming well-known among photographers for it's out-of-this-world arctic summer light and giant icebergs. I'm pleased to kick off this inaugural photo workshop to West Greenland in summer 2017, as a brand new destination! If you want to photograph clear jewel-like ice chunks on black sand beaches that glitter like diamonds, and travel by comfortable van, and photograph a variety of landscapes, then Iceland is for you, and I invite you to check out one of my Icelandic photography workshops. But if you want to be blown away by the sheer gigantic size of icebergs hundreds of feel tall, floating in the Arctic ocean and cast in warm pink arctic sunset light at midnight as we sail around them on small charter boats, and cruise between remote Inuit settlements, then Greenland is the place for you!
Ilulissat is the logical starting point for any West Greenlandic photography workshop, situated at the outlet of the iceberg-choked Kangia Icefjord, which deposits these huge icebergs into Disko Bay where they drift around for years before melting. There is spectacular sunset and sunrise light that shines through the short summer nights, and to best capture this on the icebergs, we'll do a combination of shore-based traditional photography, and private chartered boats just for our group as we cruising around Disco Bay during the evening and sunset hours. Another highlight is photographing the humpback whales lingering in front of these massive icebergs as a backdrop! And, this workshop is so much more than just a base at Ilulissat, the largest town in the region. We'll also travel to three different outlying small village settlements and camps around the furthest parts of Disko Bay, for a comprehensive exploration of the large Disko Bay area, and an authentic view of Inuit culture and way of living in smaller Inuit villages. Small colorful slightly-forelorn-looking wooden houses are built on the barren rocky headlands next to the ocean, so are naturally very interesting photographically and great to by foot with a camera in hand. We'll stay two nights in Qasigiannguit at the marvelously situated Hotel Diskobay, and two nights in another small town idyllically located on the opposing south side of the Kangia Icefjords named Ilimanaq, a picturesque and tiny settlement that's a brand new destination for our ferry company. Then, we cruise 90km up to the northern reaches of Disko Bay, to stay two nights in cabins overlooking the Eqi glacier, which is famous for it's regular occurance of calving ice into the sea. We can relax at our cabins overlooking the glacier, and also hike up much closer to the Eqi glacier. After Eqi, we'll return once more to Ilulissat for a final evening and night photographing from land over the Kangia Icefjord UNESCO World Heritage Area.
These are ideal dates as we'll still do late evening sunset cruises to the icebergs, yet still have the chance to see the first auroras of the new season during our short 4-hour nights. Midday light can be quite harsh, so we'll utilize middays for travel between settlements, and rest / sleep time at our hotels, and an occasional indoor edit session. Weather is usually clear and ideal during this time of year, so we'll likely be out every sunset taking advantage of this fair weather, late into the midnight hours (or beyond if the aurora borealis makes a showing), and out again from 3-6am daily photographing the sunrise and morning hours. Since we stay 2 nights in each location, typically we'll be alternating between having one long midday off (for rest), and one midday for travel between settlements around Disko Bay.
I'm offering limited-time special pricing for our inaugural 10-day Greenland trip, at just $4,440 all-inclusive of private boat charters, boat transfers between 4 different settlements all around Disko Bay (including the distant Eqi Glacier!), all meals, and guiding. Price does not include flights to Greenland, from either Iceland or Denmark. Greenland is a very expensive country to travel in, so I urge you to check out all the workshops coming here to Greenland for comparison' sake, and I'm confident you'll find this trip covers the Disko Bay greater region the most comprehensively and affordably! No other workshop out there stays overnight in 4 different settlements all around Disko Bay, for such in-depth coverage of this famous West Greenland destination. There is an abridged trip option for just an extremely limited number of trip participants to opt out of the Eqi Glacier extension, instead returning to Ilulissat for their final night and departing Greenland 2 days earlier than the rest of the group, which is an option to consider if your time or budget is a bit short or will simply be tired out of too many huge icebergs! Pricing for this abridged 8-day option is $3,900.
Day 1 - Arrival to Ilulissat, West Greenland
16 August 2017
Fly into Ilulissat, Greenland from either Iceland or Denmark, and transfer to the #1 best hotel in all of Ilulissat, the Hotel Arctic, with panoramic views over Disko Bay and thousands of icebergs right from the hotel's deck or perhaps your luxurious room! After a rest at the hotel, we'll spend the evening exploring and photographing the large town of Ilulissat and have dinner at one of the town's few independent restaurants. We'll then walk across town to the boardwalk that leads us to the UNESCO World Heritage Area of the Kangia Icefjord, which is a massive fjord choked with gigantic icebergs as far as the eye can see. And there we'll hike along the icefjord, and take telephoto and wide angle panoramas over the icebergs through the evening and sunset hours, with the icebergs bathed in pink arctic light. This is also an ideal time to fly a drone over the icebergs, for expansive aerial perspectives. Possible night/Aurora Borealis shooting over Kangia Icefjord. Overnight in Ilulissat at Hotel Arctic.
Day 2 - Full day in Ilulissat with sunset iceberg cruise
17 August 2017
A full day spent in Ilulissat, first with an early morning sunrise shoot again over the Kangia Icefjord, from land. Often there are huge icebergs that drift close to town and you can photograph right there from the shoreline with the town behind you, or perhaps we'll return to the nearby overlook over the Kangia Icefjord. Then we'll have a large chunk of time off throughout late morning and through midday for you to rest and sleep up in the luxiurious Hotel Arctic, and also explore the town of Ilulissat more on your own, and photograph more icebergs floating past our hotel right from the the hotel's deck! Then in the evening, after dinner, we'll have a charter boat for several hours to sail around and among the giant floating ice castles around the outlet of the Kangia Icefjord as it enters Disko Bay. This will give us amazing opportunities to photograph alpenglow on the lit-up icebergs, with a very high chance of photographing humpback whales in front of the icebergs! After sunset in the twilight hours we'll return to Ilulissat. Again, we're always on alert of any aurora activity, every night.
Day 3 - Sail to Qasigiannguit village on Disko Bay
18 August 2017
On day 3, after another sunrise photo op around Ilulissat, we'll catch a morning small ferry boat to Qasigiannguit, a quaint Inuit village on the southern side of Disko Bay. Our base for the next two nights is the comfortable and very welcoming Hotel Diskobay, marvelously situated on the edge of town overlooking huge icebergs floating in Disko Bay below. The hotel has a large deck and in the summer sun it's quite popular among its guests to sit out with a drink and binoculars, watching the frequent passing of humpback whales' spouts. In fact, the hotel makes a great sunset vantage point. Today we'll go for an evening walk among the colorful houses on the hills around town, as this settlement is more scenic and typical of rural Inuit communities. The houses' details typically look a little dilapidated and worn, but their brightly painted plywood sides and small size make the overall scene look quite cozy and representative of Greenland. Dinner will be enjoyed at the hotel, which always has a welcoming home-cooked vibe to it, and after that we will walk down to the shoreline to photograph the sunset, or wherever the icebergs have floated to this season.
Day 4 - Qasigiannguit village full day + hiking
19 August 2017
We will spend a full day enjoying the quieter way of life here in Qasigiannguit. After sunrise photography in the early hours, we'll enjoy a longer rest and nap time. Then, we'll head out for a day's hike to a nearby secluded and peaceful bay, into which a few icebergs always drift in to stay for the season. It's truly a once in a lifetime experience to be enjoying your own private iceberg bay all to yourself and perfectly quiet. This hike is will be about 1.5 hours one-way, but we'll take our time and enjoy hiking in the Greenland wilderness. There are no polar bears in the region so it's safe to hike about, even on your own. Then you can return back to the hotel, or continue onward and climb a mountain for spectacular 360 degree panoramic views over the immense Disko Bay region, where you can see tiny white dots (which are actually building-sized icebergs) out as far as the eye can see, giving an unparrelled sense of scale to Greenland. On a clear day you can see as far north as the Kangia Icefjord, and inland towards the Greenlandic ice cap. We'll hike back to the hotel in time for dinner, and our usual evening photography closer to the shoreline and the icebergs. There's many other potential hikes here in this region as well to consider, if you're especially keen on getting out on your own.
Day 5 - Travel Qasigiannguit to Ilulissat + sunset iceberg cruise
20 August 2017
After morning photography, there's still time until the early afternoon to fit in another hike in the remote, safe, and spectacular wilderness valleys behind the coastal settlement of Qasigiannguit. You may hike on your own, or the leader may like to hike with you. Then we'll walk down to the town's harbour to catch the small boat that ferries us a couple hours across Disko Bay back to Ilulissat. After getting back settled into our Hotel Arctic, we'll again go our for another sunset and evening boat cruise among the gigantic icebergs of Disko Bay. The icebergs don't move that much day-to-day, but there's always more angles to shoot, more icebergs to sail around, and more whales to search for and attempt to line up with with icebergs in the background of your shots. We may actually cruise to a little hidden bay on this evening which none of the other boat cruises visit, which traps many icebergs and which last year featured three icebergs with massive ice-arches that I flew my drone through! Overnight again in Ilulissat.
Day 6 - Ilulissat to Ilimanaq
21 August 2017
After morning photography possibilities on the shores of Disko Bay or nearby Kangia Icefjord, we have rest/free time in the morning till check-out at Hotel Arctic. Then we'll board a small ferry boat to Iliminaq, which is situated on the opposite, southern entrance to the Kangia Icefjord, cruising past all the giant icebergs on the way.
Ilimanaq is a traditional Greenlandic village where the main industries are still hunting and fishing. Ilimanaq is one of the smallest settlements in the entire Disko Bay region of Greenland with only about 50 residents, but the village is rich in history with the hunting culture still a big part of the rural Greenlandic way of life. We may get a chance to photograph a hunter with his catch of fish or a seal. Also, some local inhabitants might invite tourists into their own homes for Kaffemik, a traditional Greenlandic get-together with coffee and cake, and should this opportunity come, don't hesitate to accept, and talk to them about their way of life.
Evening and sunset will be spent in the village surroundings, or depending on where the icebergs have floated to, perhaps even photographed from the deck of the idyllically located Ilimanaq Lodge.
Day 7 - Ilimanaq full day
22 August 2017
Today we have a full day around Ilimanaq. After some more morning sunrise photography around the town, and a mid-morning rest, we'll plan to do a major adventure outing and activity today, with details forthcoming. Among our many options are getting onto the Greenlandic icecap with a local guide and glacier hiking at the Tasiusaq fjord system, accessed with ATV's. Or we'll do a boat trip among the icebergs. Or we'll hike a few kilometers over the hill behind town to look back at the colorful little houses nestled along the shore of Disko Bay, and then in front of us the entire 65km long Kangia Icefjord will reveal itself before us. A third option we have is doing a boat cruise to get closer to the icebergs. Whatever we decide to do, we'll truly get an authentic taste of real wilderness and quietness by the shores of Disco Bay, beyond the busy tourist town of Iliulissat. Overnight will again be in Ilimanaq, made possible by the brand new cabins of Ilimanaq Lodge, just opening up for the first time for tourists in 2017. We're truly on the threshold of tourism in Greenland!
Day 8 - Ilimanaq to Eqi Glacier all day boat cruise
23 August 2017
Morning photography wrapup around Ilimanaq, then boat transfer back past the icebergs to Ilulissat. Now, the time has come for those limited number of trip participants that have chosen the abridged version of our trip, to say goodbye and return on their own (transfers provided) to Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat (included), where they'll enjoy their last day and night in Ilulissat on their own, and fly out of Greenland the following day. The rest of us will transfer to a different boat at Ilulissat harbour, and continue on the next leg of our epic journey around Disko Bay, cruising on a smaller ferry boat for about 6 hours and 80 km up to the famous Eqi glacier. The boat will call in at several little settlements along the way, delivering supplies and a handful of people on other adventures, so there's always photography opportunites from the open deck. In the later afternoon, we'll finally arrive to Eqi glacier, after a long day on the water. The boat typically spends a couple hours going up close to the glacier edge, which is famous as it regularly is calving huge chunks of ice into the bay. This is always an exciting photograph to wait for, watching the power of nature. For the next two nights, we'll stay in spectacularly situated premium cabins with a panoramic view overlooking the Eqi glacier and bay. Sunset will probably be spent around the Eqi Glacier Lodge area, with telephoto lenses looking out across the vast expanse.
Day 9 - Eqi Glacier full day
24 August 2017
This day is spent exploring around Eqi glacier, and doing a longer hike of several hours to get up alongside the glacier. This is of course the main activity to do today while staying at Eqi, as the glacier is the star of the show, although some people may prefer to stay closer around the cabins for the day. Time flies by when you're just watching the glacier for hours, waiting for it to calve, which it does regularly on average every hour or so. Sunset will again be spent overlooking Eqi Glacier, and again overnight in Eqi Glacier Lodge cabins. There might be a possibility to do an extra, optional second boat cruise closer to the Eqi glacier terminus.
Day 10 - Eqi to Ilulissat day cruise
25 August 2017
In the morning, we'll photograph any last shots around Eqi Glacier, before boarding our boat headed back to Ilulissat. By this time, your memory cards will be so full of iceberg shots that you'll probably choose to take a nap on the boat, although of course there's always more spectactular towering icebergs a hundred feet tall passing by off the port or starboard side. Once back in Ilulissat, we'll rest before dinnertime, then afterwards head back for a second evening of shooting from land over the immense Kangia Icefjord. Into the late hours of the evening or night, we'll tiredly and happily catch a taxi across town back to our comfortable hotel.
Day 11 - Fly out of Ilulissat
26 August 2017
The morning time will be up to you, to rest or for those hard-core photographers that just can't get enough, to walk down once more to the shoreline to catch some last shots of spectacular icebergs. Then, the hotel will provide shuttle service for us to the airport, and we'll depart Ilulissat. Our times of departure may vary, based on whether we're flying to Iceland, Copenhagen, or other parts of Greenland for continued adventures.
General Trip Information
Group Size: Maximum size of 9; minimum size of 4.
Start/End: The tour starts on 16 August 2017 with transfer to Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat. You'll provide us your incoming flight information ahead of time. Our workshop ends on 26 August, with your departure flight out of Ilulissat to either Reykjavik, Copenhagen, or other towns in Greenland. Plan to budget about $1000 for your flight from Europe to Greenland. So while here, consider staying longer in Greenland and exploring another Greenlandic town such as Kulusuk, Kangerlusuag, or others.
- A dedicated, highly experienced photography guide with you the entire time, ensuring logistics go smoothly and offering photography instruction and in the field coaching
- Accommodation for 10 nights in the best hotels and cabins remote Greenland has to offer, including 4-star Hotel Arctic while in Ilulissat, other idyllically located settlement lodges and hotels, and superior cabins at Eqi. Cost is based on double occupancy per room (twin rooms). No single supplement is available - all rooms must be shared by two people. All rooms have in-room bathrooms, but bathroom standards may vary.
- All boat transfers between all 4 settlement locations around the far reaches of Disko Bay.
- All transfers between harbours and ports and airports, to our places of accomodation.
- All 3 meals per day and food featuring a variety of western-standard foods as well as locally caught meats and sea products (breakfasts provided by our hotels; prepacked bagged lunches or picked up from the local grocery store, and 2-3 course dinners at hotel or village restaurants.
- 3 evening and sunset sailing trips among the giant icebergs, with possible mix between small group tour boat and privately chartered boats. May substitute one boat trip for ATV trip up to glacial icecap at Ilimanaq.
- Flights to and from Ilulissat, Greenland (budget $1,200 RT)
- Any extra time you spend in Greenland before/after the trip.
- Trip insurance
- Extra optional boat trips, helicopter sightseeing flight, etc.
- All drinks at sit-down meals, alcoholic and non-, where water is provided already.
- Room service or extra amenities.
- Extra optional taxi services when walking through town is reasonable option.
- No single room upgrade is possible - all rooms twin share.
- Anything else not listed as being included
Experience and Fitness of trip participants:
- This tour is open to digital photographers of all skill levels from beginner to expert.
- Everyone must come with a good, positive travel attitude and enthusiasm for getting serious about photography and putting some tiring hours in.
- At least a basic decent level of physical ability and fitness is required, for all trip participants. However, to get the most out of the trip, a very good physical condition is recommended. This is so that everyone can enjoy and take part in all the walking around town and hiking we plan to do. This is not a vehicle-based tour, we are boat- and foot-based. However, all serious hikes are optional, and you may opt to stay in your hotel and rest, or stay closer around town and not go on difficult hikes or around-town excursions.
- A trip packing list will be provided to help you maximize your photo opportunities and comfortable in the cool weather. Everyone should pack smart enough to be able to handle their own luggage into and out of boats and similar scenarios.
- If you have additional questions, the trip leader will be happy to answer them over the phone or by email.
This photo workshop is all about in-the-field field photography and situational instruction, working alongside your trip leader, and there will be no formally scheduled classroom workshops or presentations, although on trips we usually do an indoor session or two covering photography concepts and editing skills and image critiquing, weather and time allowing. Our main emphasis is evening and sunset photography every day, on land and on sea, capturing the special arctic light as it hits the enormous icebergs. Our main photographic subjects are icebergs, and more icebergs! We also will photograph whales (with icebergs!), and Inuit village culture and townscapes, and more shoreline seascapes (with icebergs in the background). We will always being prepared to go out to photograph the Aurora Borealis should it occur in the middle of the night. Aurora Borealis viewing depends on 2 main factors: solar activity and clear weather. The chances of us photographing this phenomenon are very high, given that we're out for so many nights in remote locations.
Photographic topics that will covered while shooting include night and aurora borealis photography, classic landscape photography composition and technique, HDR (High Dynamic Range) imagery, panoramic photography, adventure and travel photography, wildlife photography, and drone photography. Our full 10 days and 10 nights of photography potential, allow us to comprehensively really get to intimately know this region of western Greenland, leading to stronger images and enabling each participant to get the most out this once-in-a-lifetime trip. August days can sometimes be long and tiring, and our sleep schedule will have to fit around our photography schedule. A maximum group size of 9 photographers balances the cost-savings of a group while ensuring you will receive ample personal photographic coaching in the field from a full time working pro, maximizing the group's flexibility and ability to shoot more places, more spontaneously based on light and weather, and provide an intimate small group adventure experience.
Johnathan Esper of Wildernesscapes Photography LLC, based in the USA, will be leading the trip. Johnathan is a full time photographer and experienced international photo trip leader, having guided nearly one hundred photography tours and workshops around the world since 2011. Johnathan combines his passion for photography, travel, and the outdoors to give every group he guides the best combination of comprehensive itineraries that thoroughly explore an area all at a simply unbeatable value and price. Johnathan has a unique background from having spent years traveling the world for personal travel's sake, and is enjoying all the new photo destinations opening up in Greenland. Wildernesscapes Photography offers adventurous small group photo tour experiences in the Adirondack Mountains (USA), Iceland, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Cuba, and Norway. Johnathan's Iceland/Greenland photography workshop website is IcelandPhotography.com, and his personal general business website is WildernessPhotographs.com, which features his Adirondack Park portfolio. In addition to leading photography workshops, Johnathan Esper sells hundreds of large-format prints yearly around the United States, works with Aurora Photos stock agency, and owns a vacation rental log home in the Adirondacks.
Deposit: A $1,000 deposit is due at the time of registration, and the remaining balance is due by the trip start. Until payment is sent, your place is not guaranteed. You may conveniently pay your deposit here (near the bottom of the page) securely with your credit card, processed by Paypal payment processor. The deposit portion may also be paid via personal or bank check for USA and Canadian clients. Please contact me if you need any assistance in signing up!
Final Payment: The final payment for the balance due on the trip (after your paid deposit), is due 30 days prior to the trip start. Payment options include bank transfer to my Icelandic bank account (details on request), cash in person at the trip start (with prior arrangement), personal or bank checks (preferred for USA and Canada clients), and credit cards (a 2.5% credit card fee will be added for final payments with card).
Cancellation Policy: In the unfortunate event you need to cancel, the cancellation policy is: deposit payments are refundable as 90% future scheduled trip credit up to 120 days before trip start, 50% future scheduled trip credit if cancellation is 120-60 days before trip start, and non-refundable less than 60 days before start. Final payments for the full trip balance are 100% refundable as cash until the trip start, and non-refundable after the trip start. If I am able to fill your empty spot on the trip, half of what you'd lose will additionally be returned to you, for all the above situations. If I cancel the trip for some major reason, such as overwhelming volcanic activity, trip leader health crisis, 3rd party service provider failure, etc, then I fully refund everything in cash or Paypal, or a pro-rated amount if the trip must end early for the same reasons. I am not responsible for reimbursing you for travel or other ancillary expenses you incur in prep for the trip. This is why travel insurance, and travel medical insurance, is required for all participants.
No refunds or credits are given for included group activities, excursions, or boat trips, that are opted out of.
For more information, contact:
Johnathan A. Esper
Wildernesscapes Photography LLC
PO Box 326, Long Lake, NY
phone: 001 518 241 3363 (USA) or +354 626 0292 (Iceland)