Photo Story

The Greenland Revelation

© Martin Lipman

Veteran Arctic photographer Martin Lipman has travelled with us many times, representing the Canadian Museum of Nature. He kindly agreed to share some of his spectacular photos along with his thoughts from his first visit to Greenland.
Iceberg Greenland by Martin Lipman

© Martin Lipman

Greenland's stunning fjords are just the beginning of its beauty.

Greenland was a revelation for me. As incredible as the Canadian Arctic is, Greenland is not to be missed. The scale of ice, the intense beauty of the landscape, and the warmth of the people are all stellar. From the moment you see the the coastline in Kangerlussuaq, you know it’s going to be good.

Greenland Rock Martin by Lipman

© Martin Lipman

This dike swarm is one of many extraordinary geological features along Greenland's west coast.

Leaving Kangerlussuaq Fjord I remained on deck until the light dipped below the horizon, tracking the massive volcanic seams of the Kangaamiut dike swarm, one of a handful of such geological structures in the world.

Greenland Glacier Martin Lipman

© Martin Lipman

Eternity Fjord is no less stunning—the power of the ice quickly becomes apparent.

Sadly some the glaciers here have started to ground out due to climate change. The beauty of the ice belies its ecological warning.

Coastal Greenland Martin Lipman

© Martin Lipman

Coastal Greenland is visually stunning.

Zodiac landings in Greenland are particularly special. The nature of the coastal landscape invites exploration. Its history, its surprising flora, and its wild geology all draw you forward.

Moss Tundra Staff by Martin Lipman

© Martin Lipman

Tiny mosses and flowers on the tundra are stunning features of Greenland's landings.

Cresting the next ridge reveals an even more incredible view than the last—and sinking in that soft tundra moss is not to be missed. People often ask where Greenland got its name; I suggest it is the subtle palette of the mosses and lichen and its restful effect on your eyes.

Iceberg by Martin Lipman

© Martin Lipman

Icebergs like those that inspired the iconic Group of Seven still impress travellers today.

As you sail north towards Ilulissat and Disko Bay, the quantity of ice increases and the days get even longer. Arctic veterans now say that the ice is smaller and more broken up, due to the speed at which Sermeq Kujalleq (Jakobshavn Glacier) is moving now—a staggering sixty to one hundred feet every day. That said, you still see massive bergs that dwarf the ship.

Zodiac Glacier by Martin Lipman

© Martin Lipman

Zodiac cruising is the ideal way to appreciate Greenland's glaciers.

Cruising the ice by Zodiac reveals even more detail: incredible translucent blue seams, hidden caves and pools, and endless striations are a frozen feast for the eyes. But it's the sound that gets you. Crisp bubbles rise to the surface and constant melting is heard as the water drips off the ice. If you are lucky, you’ll hear the thunderous crack of one of the bigger bergs as it releases pressure. You feel it instinctively on the water—these icebergs are not benign, they are unpredictable and incredibly powerful.

Sea Adventurer by Martin Lipman

© Martin Lipman

The Sea Adventurer and the Zodiac fleet made a perfect cruising combination.

Being able to weave through said icebergs or land at an ancient encampment at the shallow end of a fjord is part of the wondrous appeal of Arctic cruising. Having access to a fleet of Zodiacs transforms the trip into genuine exploration, accessing communities and shoreline that large ships can’t begin to approach. To access multiple sites in a day, then pull up anchor and steam up the coast to do it all over again the next day—that is what sets ship-based travel apart.

Greenland Culture Smiles by Martin Lipman

© Martin Lipman

Wide smiles make a warm welcome anywhere you go.

As a Canadian, it was fascinating to see Adventure Canada's Inuit Cultural Educators land on shore and begin to speak Inuktitut with local Greenlanders. It gives you a very different sense of the neighbourhood and the communal links that predate the colonial histories of our two countries.

Greenland Villages by Martin Lipman

© Martin Lipman

Greenland's villages are beautiful and fascinating.

The communities of Western Greenland are remarkable. The warmth and artistry of the people and the colour of the villages stand in complementary contrast to the environment that they occupy. Greenland's people are as amazing as the landscape they call home.

About the Author

Martin Lipman

Martin Lipman

Expedition Photographer

Specializing in science and natural history, Martin Lipman has worked as a photographer for over twenty-five years. Recognized for his commercial images and most recently for his work in the Arctic, he joined Canadian Museum of Nature research teams in the Canadian High Arctic and was present when paleobiologist Dr. Natalia Rybczynski found fossilized mammal bones of a walking seal and a High Arctic camel.

Martin is a graduate of Ryerson University (Bachelor of Applied Arts in Photography) and holds an MA in Journalism from Indiana University. He is a former academic advisor for the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa. His Arctic field photography has been featured in the media, most recently in Discover Magazine. Other outlets include Radio Canada Descouvertes, Canadian Geographic, Agence-France Presse, and the BBC. Martin’s work has also been featured in a number of books and TED talks about climate change, the Arctic, and paleontology.