The world’s largest island sitting to the north east of Canada, Greenland sits three quarters in with the Arctic Circle, so I’m including in in polar regions, even though it’s an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark! The main tourism attractions here include dog sledding, whale watching, meeting the Inuit people and adventure snow shoeing and kayaking. Wildlife found here include Polar Bears and Musk Ox.
Greenland became a Danish colony back in 1814 after the previous rule of Denmark-Norway. It has been inhabited since 2500 BC and Norsemen settled here in the southern part of the island in the 10th century followed by Inuit people in the 13th century. In the early 18th century contact was re-built with Scandinavia and Denmark ruled it from then. Today’s culture is a blend of Scandinavian and Inuit history and the main trade of this remote land is fishing and fish exports. Sitting between the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean with the Baffin Sea separating it from Canada, Greenland is one of the most sparsely populated nations on earth. For wildlife and wilderness holidays, access from the UK and Europe is by air via Iceland or across the Denmark Straight, which also marks the edge of the Arctic Pack Ice. 81% of the land is covered by sheet ice.
The capital of Greenland is Nuuk on the south western coast, the main airport in Greenland is just north of there at Kangerlussuaq. The main sights of the west including Disko Bay can be best accessed via Iceland flying into Ilulissat. For the East coast of Greenland you need to fly to Kulusuk (via Iceland). Getting around in Greenland depends on the time of year. The Sarfaq Ittuk sails along the west coast between Narsaq and Illulissat taking 3 nights and 4 days. Disko Line operate ferries connecting the west cost settlements. Air Greenland have a good network of planes and helicopters servicing the country.
When to go depends on the activities you are interested in. The main summer season is May to September when temperatures in the west can be 5 – 15C. Disko Bay experiences the Midnight Sun from 20 May to 25 July. The winter runs from October to January when 24 hour darkness provides an amazing backdrop to the northern lights and temperatures average between -5 and -30C. Feb – May is the best time for dog sledding with good snow conditions and increasing daylight.
Food, drink and accommodation is expensive in Greenland as everything has to be imported. Meals in restaurants cost around £15-£20 and a beer is about £5. You should look at spending upwards of £100 a day for basic expenses. Traditional Greenland foods include plenty of fish and shrimps, dark breads and potatoes. Some places serve traditional food with a modern twist like Reindeer chilli!
If you fancy an adventure ask me about the Eskimo Travelling tour to East Greenland. Stay at a private guesthouse in Tasilaq in remote parts of the country that hardly ever see tourists. Spend a week with a local family and help with the cooking. There are two days dog sledding included, you travel to Tinitequilaaq, a journey of 6-8 hours by dog sled, overnight in another private house and back the next day. Optional activities include Ice Fishing which you learn about old hunting skills, hiking in the snow or a Snowmobile safari around Ammasalik area.
There are a few adventure expedition holidays to Greenland in summer or winter, during the dark nights of winter this is one of the best places on our planet to view the Northern Lights.