Flight seeing, or adventure tours by air, is aviations response to kayaking. In a country where all the roads are pretty much confined within city limits, and where transportation through the wilderness is based on shipping or aviation, the large panorama windows of a helicopter or a small fixed wing aircraft, provide the viewer with sights of Greenland that few people get to experience.
As a rule, it will take you about a week on foot to cover the distance you can traverse by air in an hour, and we recommend you experience the landscape in both ways. But if your aim is to have an overview and see how the country changes patterns from oceans to fiords to mountains to the inland area and the ice, then a flight seeing adventure is your obvious choice.
“My favorite was the flight to get the scale of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord, which is stupendous! I am still trying to get my head around the scale! I would not have missed this for the world. It is truly an opportunity of a lifetime!”
“It was one of the best things we have ever done in Greenland! The helicopter went up over a ridge, and the pilots were just playing because they went really low and followed the river – even the curves when they could have just gone straight. It was really ace!”
MUSK OXEN AND THE ICE CAP IN KANGERLUSSUAQ
The ride in the in small, nimble five passenger air craft passes over a landscape marked by the moving ice and its gradual withdrawal. From the sandy bottom of the fiord - deposits come from under the ice and are carried there by melting glacial rivers during summer - over gentle hills and rounded mountains to clearly visible moraines - marking the beginning of the inland ice, and the landscape steadily rising towards the Ice Cap.
Be sure to look carefully at the landscape on the way towards the Ice Cap. Because in 1964 biologists moved 27 musk oxen to the mountains around Kangerlussuaq and that tiny band of animals has today grown to a population of more than 10.000 musk oxen.
It should be easy to spot animals in such large numbers, but the herds are always on the move and therefore easier to watch from the air. The pilots from Air Zafari know the terrain so well that they guarantee everyone will see the musk oxen on all their flights in the Kangerlussuaq area. If they can’t locate any animals in the first valley they will just continue on to the next one.
THE ICE FIORD AND ILULISSAT
The ice fiord, Kangia in Ilulissat, is the ultimate destination for many travellers to Greenland, and combined with boat tours among the icebergs and hiking trips along the edge of the fiord, flight seeing tours really prove their worth.
Ilulissat offers helicopter tours to the Ice fiord as well as large-scale adventures in fixed wing aircraft with extended range, providing an opportunity to see the world in even greater perspective when flying over the glacier at Eqi, and on out over the Disko Bay.
In Ilulissat there are very good opportunities to see whales from above, when they come up for air, breaking the water surface between the icebergs.
Although the following may sound like a weird nature experience, the presence of cruise ships will show the viewer in a very obvious way that even these massive floating hotels pale in comparison to the gigantic icebergs.
The world seems deceptively simple when viewed from above. The gigantic icebergs in the water look like ice cubes in a bath tub, the city like colorful Lego bricks and the mountains on the volcanic island of Qeqertarsuaq shrink in size resembling easy hills to run up on. Flying is not a bad idea at all.
“The helicopter tour was impressive! I have seen glaciers before, but this is much bigger and more impressive! It looked much more serious!”
- The operator of air tours, Air Zafari offers tourist flights in Ilulissat, Kangerlussuaq and Kulusuk.
- Air Greenland offers helicopter flights in Ilulissat.
- Each tour usually lasts from about 25 minutes to 1½ hours.
- Air Zafari uses special aircraft for flight seeing tours which provide excellent opportunities for great photo shoots from every window on the aircraft.
RAW MOUNTAINS, ICE, AND SMALL COMMUNTIES IN EAST GREENLAND
In Eastern Greenland everything always seems a little bigger, wilder and more desolate than in Western Greenland. Especially if one chooses to believe the local population. Maybe there is something to it, because surrounding the airport at Kulusuk and the main town of Tasiilaq a raw world emerges with razor sharp peaks on the mountain ridges which stretch towards the north and the south, as far as the eye can see.
Going for a ride with Air Zafari in East Greenland, you will quickly get an appreciation of the logistical challenges that we live with, in our daily lives. The Ice Cap towards the west flanks the tiny belt of mountains and fiords, and from the around the middle of July, in the Denmark Strait towards the east, the pack ice descends straight down from the Arctic Ocean and mixes with the many icebergs from the Sermilik glacier in a tight belt around Tasiilaq.
The flow of broken pack ice, which the ocean currents push towards the south, affects life in East Greenland, and sometimes the heavy traffic of small boats with local people going to and from the small scattered communities, often have to slow down considerably while the passengers onboard assist in navigation, pushing the ice floes aside and looking for clear water between the icebergs.
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