By Jen Mills, Senior news reporter for Metro.co.uk
Tuesday 25 Sep 2018 8:00 am
The icebergs reflect a luminous glow in the water. The sun is so high it barely leaves shadows, and there are no stars.
Actually, its midnight – and this is as dark as it gets in summer, hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle.
All the Arctic countries call themselves the land of the midnight sun, but Greenland has a special claim as the region with the most northern point in the world on land.
Kaffeklubben Island lies at 83°40N, well above the latitude where the sea is already a solid ice pack.
In summer, when theres no night to interrupt views of the frozen mountains and glaciers, climate change has made it possible to see the far north of this unique country as a tourist – something previously only polar explorers could do.
As you travel up the coast, there might be the tease of a sunset, with the clouds lit up above the ocean. But it never delivers.
Insomniacs disturbed by the lack of darkness neednt worry, though.
From natural ice sculptures in Disko Bay and fortress-like jagged mountains around the coast, to splashes in the water that might be whales or only a rock, theyll find plenty to keep them occupied.
Even so, visiting Greenland isnt a simple undertaking.
There are no roads between each town, so to travel in the country, you have sail up the coast (where all the settlements are, as only the coastal areas arent covered in ice year round) or fly.
The easiest – and the most beautiful – way to see the country is to join an expedition cruise.
We travelled with Hurtigruten, sailing as far as its possible for ships to go without an icebreaker.
Over two weeks, MS Fram sailed from Kangerlussuaq to Thule, then on to the sea ice.
You wont find a more beautiful landscape anywhere on earth.
The west coast of Greenland has some of the most active glaciers on the planet, pushing out millions of icebergs every year.
More than 80% of icebergs in the Atlantic ocean come from these ice fjords.
At first, each iceberg seen from a cabin window is so exciting that its commemorated in a dozen photos.
After a few days of sailing, there are so many that most drift by unregistered.
The one that sank Titanic is believed to be from this area, and witnessing these huge shapes – the size of cruise ships – its easy to imagine one drifting into the open ocean to its meeting in 1912.
A few places to stop in Greenland:
This town is the closest Greenland gets to mass tourism – and with good reason.
Its at the mouth of the incredibly productive Jacobshavn glacier, meaning there are always icebergs hulking in the ice fjord and behind the colourful houses.
Take the board walk from the top of town to take in the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site of a fjord so densely packed with glacier ice that it seems as if youre looking down on a mountain range.
The fjord is usually so packed with ice that ships cant enter, but you can take a boat as close as possible into the bay next door, where you may see humpback whales diving next to the icebergs.
Just up the coast from Ilulissat is Eqi glacier.
It can be difficult to reach as it lies on the other side of the narrow Ata Strait, which is often so packed with ice that it becomes a bottleneck for ships.
If the ice chart permits, the 5km-wide glacier is a spectacular monument to natures power – its constantly active with the rumbling and cracking of ice breaking away.
The best way to take it in is by kayak through the waters at Eqis mouth, pushing the paddles through millions of tiny ice cubes floating in the water.
With no noise of a ships engine to drown out the natural sounds of the ice, you can hear air bubbles from the glaciers compacted snow pop and hiss – as well as the louder rumbling of an iceberg or the glacier calves.
Halfway up Greenlands west coast, the volcanic Disko Island is famous for its incredible ice formations.
Some are pointed like fangs, with jagged edges that could pierce a hole through metal. Others, seen through the fog, seem softer, like solidified Mr Whippy ice-cream.
Walking along the coast from Qeqertarsuaq, the only town on Disko Island, you can count dozens shimmering in the water, some in such an enticing blue, they almost invite you to take a dip.
If the weather is fine, hiking from town to the Basaltic Rocks offers panoramic views of ice floating alongside the cliffs.
Even if you only stay in the town, a short walk from the harbour grants surreal views of icebergs floating so close behind the bright houses that they look like theyre in the back garden.
Bring your camera and make sure the battery is charged – the charge doesnt last as long in a climate this cold.
The far north
Sailing north of Disko Bay, icebergs and glaciers become a familiar sight.
In winter, the sea ice freezes so fast around Greenland that hunters take dog sleds out for miles across the flat expanse. During the summer months, it retreats to the far north.
We reached 78 degrees north before the sea became impassable with ice floes, which drift like flat pancakes on the surface rather than in jagged chunks like the glacier ice.
Taking a small boat out makes it possible to navigate between the ice floes and pick up the smaller pieces.
You can even take a piece home to have it in your drink.
How to get to Greenland:
I travelled on MS Fram with Hurtigruten, a Norwegian company specialising in expedition voyages to the far north and south.
The 16-day Midnight Sun Exploration to Thule sails into such remote and icy waters that its only possible to run twice year in August, when the sea ice has has retreated enough to make the passage possible.
Places on next years trips start from £7,959 per person, which includes Air Greenland charter flights from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq and back.
(Top picture: Jen Mills)