Cool fog flows past me, refreshing my hot skin. I’m breathing deep as I push harder up the steep cliff, all I can hear is the chirping of sea birds and the gentle wisp of the breeze through the tall grass and heath. Suddenly there is a thunderous crack, so loud that I jump out of my skin. I stop and look over my shoulder, down 100 metres to the ocean below, a gigantic chunk the size of a car breaks off the iceberg floating in the bay below. I’m on Quirpon Island, just off the coast of Eastern Canada for Newfoundland and Labradors Iceberg Festival. The island is situated in what’s known as ‘Iceberg Alley’. Huge monolithic icebergs break off of glaciers in Greenland and spend months travelling down the coast eventually reaching Newfoundland and Labrador in mid summer. Quirpon is one of the best places to spot them and its also one of the most surreal and beautiful places I have ever stayed.
The only way onto the island is to be picked up and ferried around the coast by zodiac boat. There are no towns here, no cars (no roads in fact), no phone reception, no wifi. Just a lighthouse and a couple of accommodations surrounding it. The lighthouse was converted to a guest house by the enigmatic owner Ed. His relaxed attitude and passion for the island is contagious.
The iceberg below me is the size of maybe ten double decker buses. Golden sunlight splinters through a thick layer of fog all around the island this evening, I feel like I’m living in a dream. I spent my first evening on Quirpon hiking and exploring, photographing the icebergs from the high cliffs and watching for whales. In high season it’s not uncommon to see dozens of sighting of whales every hour but I am here a little too early. Then its back to the guest house, it’s dark outside and the house is so warm and cosy. Everyone eats together in the dining room, three courses of locally sourced foods cooked by some lovely and friendly locals.
My next two days are mostly spent out on the zodiac with Ed and some other guests, hunting for icebergs, we find dozens of huge ones and spend hours photographing them from every angle, we even spotted a few whales.
You can spot these icebergs all the way down the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, they often drift into bays, sometimes towering over the houses that line the shore. They can also be seen dotted across the horizon. My favourite way to photograph them was to get out on a boat and get up close, especially around golden hour.
Gros Morne National Park
Apart from the Iceberg Festival, I was also lucky enough in my time in Newfoundland and Labrador to spend some time exploring Gros More National Park. My favourite area was the majestic Western Brook Pond, it is a giant fjord that easily matches the beauty of the Norwegian fjords but with far less visitors. The best way to experience it is on a boat trip to really feel the scale. Giant 600 metre cliffs tower over the boat and waterfalls cascade down around you.
Enjoyed this blog? Check out my blog on the best winter photo spots in Iceland. You can also find more information on Newfoundland and Labradors Iceberg Festival here.