The most beautiful glaciers, the most active, foaming and thundering while calving in the Arctic Ocean, you’ll find in Greenland. Take for example the Eqi Sermia, three hours sailing from Ilulissat. Tourists boats will remain at a safe distance, minimum one kilometer from the glacier front, which is more than 250 meters high and moves about nine meters per day. “It might not be the biggest or most impressive glaciers of Greenland.” Says Tom, our guide. “But this is one of the most interesting, cutest and most active.” Actually Eqi is a compact glacier with a width of a good five kilometers, so we might even call it a “boutique glacier”, especially when you know it’s one of the only glaciers in the world where you can sleep next to it in a hotel room of the Glacier Lodge Eqi.
The sound Eqi makes when it moves is so intense (itâ€™s in fact the sound of air escaping through the ice), is makes your hair stand up. Maybe this is what it sounded when the earth was created or who knows, when the world will perish. You can compare it with thunder, but more intense and longer, with explosions but of the natural kind. When a piece of the glacier wall collapses and plunges almost in slow motion in the ocean, it creates a small tsunami with long and slow waves drifting towards the shore, some up to five metres high. If you are floating in front of the glacier with a boat you have no sense of the size and especially the height of the glacier wall. It’s only when you check it out with your binoculars (an absolute must if you’re traveling to Greenland, we swear by our Swarovski Optik binos) and when you look at the foot of the wall, youâ€™ll understand the scale of this natural wonder. When a piece breaks off and plunges into the sea, you spot gulls flying away, tiny in contrast to the white-blue, icy background.
But forget the boat and go for the Glacier Lodge Eqi, which opened in 2001 next to the hut of the French polar explorer Paul-Emile Victor. First there was CafĂ© Victor with some simple cabins and lodging and a few years ago there were four luxurious wood cabins with large windows looking over the thunderous glacier, with private bathroom and hot water heated by solar energy.
In the evening a soft light falls over the bay which wakes up now and then by a rolling wave, caused by the Eqi. Most guests come here to hike, to the edge of the Greenland ice sheet (four hours walking back and four back), to the side of the fjord or to the freshwater lake lying just behind the camp. After a brisk walk everyone comes together in CafĂ© Victor, perhaps serving the best food of Greenland. But weâ€™ll take about this in a next post.