Explore an island nine times the size of the United Kingdom, where 80% is permanently covered by an immense layer of ice, and with a population of just over 50,000 residents. Greenland is the ideal destination for the true adventurer seeking untouched nature, far from mass tourism. Located 70 km north of Ilulissat, in western Greenland, awaits a breathtaking natural spectacle: the Eqi Glacier. Far from human civilization, Mother Nature presents one of her most beautiful performances here. I joined a 2-day expedition to the Eqi Glacier and the spectacular Glacier Lodge Eqi from Ilulissat to witness this spectacle up close!
Glacier Lodge Eqi: Explore the Enchanting Eqi Glacier on a 2-day Journey from Ilulissat
Ice, ice, and some more ice.
For kilometers on end, all I see is an enormous white mass. For a moment, I feel like I'm in George R.R. Martin's books, transported to an otherworldly landscape. It's as if I'm gazing at the now-familiar 'The Wall' from Game Of Thrones in many living rooms. It's colossal. An ice giant over 150 meters high, as ominous as it is intriguing.
The engine of our boat falls silent, and the absolute desolation descends on me like a fluffy blanket, one that feels both relaxing and oppressive. I am simultaneously full of wonder and frozen with awe for this gigantic ice wall. I stand in the shadow of the great calving glacier, known as Eqi.
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Eqi Glacier: a challenge for the senses
You see it before you hear it. Like a frozen cotton candy, a mountain of ice dust gathers at the foot of the ice wall. Unannounced. Seagulls speed through the air in an attempt to avoid the splashing water. A true spectacle for those who have attentively observed Eqi. But something is wrong. It seems like one of my senses is not working. My eyes perceive changes, but my ears do not register it.
And then it happens. An ancient thunderclap breaks the bewildering silence. The rumbling announces that the Eqi Glacier has just become a bit smaller, while a mini-tsunami rolls towards our boat, gently swaying it back and forth.
This mysterious environment forces you to focus on one sense - sight - because when you hear the calving ice or feel the boat rolling, the spectacle is already over. Although the ice wall towers impressively above me, I am at a considerable distance of more than a kilometer from it. By the time the sound and waves reach our boat, the last drifting bits of ice dust have already settled.
ogether with the other amazed passengers, I scan the white surface of the impressive ice wall. From left to right and back again, I try to discern the smallest movements in a landscape that could easily have been part of a Salvador Dali painting.
"Here, at the end of the world, it is clear that we humans are entering the territory of Mother Nature. Here, she calls the shots. I can stay for a while, but only on her terms."
Peering through my binoculars, I hope to witness the calving of the glacier once again. And what a spectacle nature had in store for me. In total, I am allowed to marvel at the phenomenon for a few hours, ranging from small fragments to icebergs as large as a house. Each fresh ice break as enchanting and mesmerizing as the previous one, but at the same time frightening because, as I enjoy the natural spectacle, the Eqi Glacier becomes a bit smaller with each calving—at such a pace that, according to science, it may no longer be visible from this very spot in 15 years.
My cheeks turn red from the biting wind, and my fingers are stiff from the cold, but I, like everyone on board, can't tear myself away from the melancholic beauty of the Eqi Glacier. It's utterly enchanting.
On an expedition to the end of the world
Eqi is an apt name for a place that likely marks the border of the inhabited world. It means 'edge' in Greenlandic. The colossal ice wall literally forms the border of Greenland's largest ice mass. Behind the Eqi Glacier, you find the Greenlandic ice cap covering 80% of the entire land. I can imagine that in older times, when people believed the Earth was flat, the Eqi Glacier on old sea charts marked the place where ships would fall off the edge of the Earth. After this, there is truly nothing more.
The water around the boat has now changed from beautifully smooth and clear to cloudy and completely filled with floating miniature icebergs. The result of the glacier calving, noticeably visible all around me. Here, at the end of the world, it is clear that we humans are entering the territory of Mother Nature. Here, she calls the shots. I can stay for a while, but only on her terms.
The boat sets course for Glacier Lodge Eqi in Port Victor, two kilometers from the glacier. Named after the European explorer Paul-Émile Victor, who used this area as a base camp for his scientific research of the Greenlandic ice cap more than 100 years ago. Arriving in Port Victor, I feel like a true explorer. Anyone expecting a luxury vacation at the edge of the world is quickly awakened.
Glacier Lodge Eqi is completely disconnected from the modern world. Electricity is supplied by solar cells, and all waste is carefully collected and returned to Ilulissat. Even for the meals served, as many Greenlandic ingredients as possible are used. There is no internet or mobile phone coverage. The only way to contact the inhabited world is via a satellite phone. But I don't mind. I look forward to disconnecting from my screen and fully connecting with nature.
Glacier Lodge Eqi: Docking under Adrenaline
Upon docking in Port Victor, I'm warned to be fully packed and ready - the fittest first - not to linger when disembarking to take photos but to quickly exit the boat and head to the safety zone. The safety zone requires a short, steep climb of about 100 meters via a wooden staircase and a slippery steep rock. As Greenland melts, the calving of the iconic Eqi Glacier -also known as Eqip Sermia in Greenlandic- sometimes creates impressive tsunamis. Caution here is no idle concept.
The ice falls without warning, and although the glacier is more than two kilometers away, it takes only two to three minutes before potentially large waves hit the coast—with enough force to sweep away anything in their path.
The Glacier Lodge Eqi team always has someone present to monitor the water until all guests safely reach the security zone. There's nothing like such a small adrenaline boost to kickstart my adventure in the Greenlandic wilderness!
A Slice of Heaven in the Greenlandic Wilderness at Eqi Glacier Lodge
Glacier Lodge Eqi is a special place. A place that truly makes me feel like I'm staying at the edge of the world. There are no roads here, no shops, no other houses. Just a spot on a vast ridge to rest my head at night and a world of opportunities to explore Greenland's beauty.
The location of the lodge is unique, right in front of the calving Eqi Glacier. In 2001, the first four cabins were built, and the concept has been further developed each year. I order a Greenlandic coffee in Café Victor to warm up after hours of staring through my binoculars. It's cold here. At this very moment, I am more than 300km above the Arctic Circle, where the temperature flirts with the 2°C limit even in the heart of summer. With a warm cup of coffee in hand and lovely warm animal skins under my seat, I settle on the private deck of my cabin. I am completely ready to witness one of Mother Nature's best shows from this spot.
Opening the door of my cabin reveals a world that would have made life much easier for adventurers of years gone by. At the edge of the Glacier Lodge Eqi property stands an original hut that was used decades ago. I have nothing but the utmost respect for their efforts in this harsh environment. Furnished with earthy tones, huge panoramic windows, and reindeer hides, my cabin looks more like a boutique hotel than that lonely hut further away. Adventurous, but with a touch of comfort for myself.
Since the lodge is only accessible during the summer months, my visit to the Eqi Glacier coincides with the presence of the midnight sun. A day that seems to last forever, with the darkness of the night only rolling into the soft pastel colors of an endless sunset. We all have those sleepless nights when our minds are restless and we lie awake with our thoughts. The midnight sun has a similar effect on me—only I'm not tossing and turning with restlessness; I feel amazingly calm and refreshed.
It is well past midnight now. The sun almost kisses the horizon of the Arctic waters in the distance. The ice wall has taken on the most incredible shades of blue. I am ready to go to dreamland, with the occasional roar of a grand fireworks display of nature in the background.
Through the Tundra to the edge of Eqi Glacier
'No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.' I keep repeating the familiar saying in my head, hidden under my hat and ski jacket, as I gaze down at the marshy tundra beneath my hiking shoes. As brilliantly clear as the weather was yesterday, this morning is gray and misty. The only thing that remains unchanged is the incomparable beautiful nature.
I am on my way to the edge of the Eqi Glacier, where a breathtaking view of the ice field awaits me. Along with a few other guests, I make my way through peat bogs, cross meltwater streams, and brave slippery rocks made slick by the mist. I'm almost there. If you want to discover Greenland's nature up close, you have to be willing to make some effort.
Although the trek from Glacier Lodge Eqi mostly takes place on fairly flat terrain, a steep climb over the 'moraine' awaits me at the end—a hill consisting of rocks and sediment pushed forward by the glacier. A short but sturdy climb, creating a mild sauna effect under my ski jacket due to the effort. It's cold and wet, but I still discard my outer layers of clothing. Sweaty and tired, I stand at the top. The piles of gravel give way, revealing a beautiful view of the glacier in all its splendor.
Occasionally, I declare myself crazy for not lying on a beach in Mexico at this moment, while here in Greenland, I walk for hours every day in freezing temperatures. But those are fleeting moments that quickly disappear when I realize what a wonderfully beautiful, unique environment I am allowed to wander in. And how much more complete as a person I have become through these experiences. I am no longer tired from the climb... I feel completely satisfied.
Back to Reality: return from Eqip Sermia to Ilulissat
Back in Port Victor, I wait on a picnic bench until I spot the red dinghy that will take me back to Ilulissat. From up here, it becomes clear once again how small the boat actually is compared to this awe-inspiring wall of ice.
Once back on board, all that's left for me to do is to relax, have a cup of tea, and enjoy the scenery as I sail past icebergs and the small settlement of Oqaatsut. Behind the boat's glass window, the sun's rays wonderfully warm up the cabin. The weather here in Greenland is once again completely different than just two hours ago. The slow rocking back and forth in the ice-strewn water eventually lulls me to sleep until I wake up a few hours later by the sound notifications of incoming messages. Phones suddenly come back to life. We are approaching Ilulissat and civilization. Less than four hours ago, I stood on one of the most northern borders of human civilization. A memory I will never let go of. Unforgettable!
Travel to the Beautiful Eqi Glacier
Traveling to Greenland: How to Get There
Traveling to Greenland is a journey to an undiscovered destination. You must be willing to make an effort to get there. There are currently no direct flights to Greenland, except if you start your journey from Iceland or Denmark. If you are flying from Zaventem (Belgium) or Schiphol (Netherlands), it is best to fly to Copenhagen (Denmark), from where you can fly via Air Greenland to the American airbase in Kangerlussuaq. From Kangerlussuaq, you can continue to other destinations in Greenland via internal flights. A visa is not required for Europeans traveling to Greenland.
How to Book an Eqi Glacier Tour
The Eqi Glacier is accessible via a three-hour boat trip through the Ataa Strait to the north from Ilulissat, the third-largest city in Greenland on the west coast of the country. Through Disko Line Explorer, you can arrange a day trip that takes you to the glacier in three hours, stops for two hours in front of the glacier for lunch, and finally takes you back to Ilulissat in three hours.
Experience the magic of the Eqi Glacier in just one day! As a day trip from Ilulissat, embark on an unforgettable boat journey with a special stop at the glacier. Admire the impressive calving, indulge in a delightful onboard lunch, and return with memories to last a lifetime. This day trip can be taken for DKK 2,445 (2023) or 330$ per person.
Staying at Glacier Lodge Eqi
If you have more than one day available, treat yourself to one or more nights at the Glacier Lodge Eqi Included in your stay at Glacier Lodge Eqi is a guided 4-5-hour hike to the glacier's edge. From the top of the moraine, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the glacier.
Does your budget allow for multiple overnight stays? Then you have enough time to opt for a longer hike that will take you to the ice cap in about 8-10 hours (round trip). You can even walk on the ice! Seasoned adventurers can also take a trip on the ice cap and spend the night close to the ice.
I stayed at Glacier Lodge Eqi in a Comfort Deluxe cabin. This cabin has panoramic windows overlooking the Eqi Glacier, allowing me to witness the natural phenomenon from the comfort of my bed or private terrace. Like the Comfort cabins, the Comfort Deluxe cabin has a private bathroom, electricity powered by solar panels, and a terrace. If you stay in a Standard Cabin or a Glamping Tent, you have shared shower and toilet facilities and can use the outlets in Café Victor. There is no electricity in your cabin or tent.
Enjoy a unique experience with a stay at Glacier Eqi Lodge, providing breathtaking views of Eqip Sermia or the Eqi Glacier at every moment. World Of Greenland offers everything you need, including boat transport, lunches, dinners, breakfast, guided walks, and an unforgettable cruise along the Eqi Glacier.
Comfort Deluxe Cabin: DKK 5,370 (2023) or 720$ per person.
Comfort Cabin: DKK 4,945 (2023) or 665$ per person.
Standard Cabin or Glamping tent: DKK 4,245 (2023) or 570$ per person.
Best Time to Visit Eqi Glacier
The best time to visit Eqi Glacier is during the Greenlandic summer, from June to September. Despite the challenges of unpredictable weather, the reward is an immersive encounter with the wonders of nature. Whether witnessing ice calving, trekking through the tundra, or enjoying the midnight sun, Eqi Glacier promises an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Greenland's wilderness.