Northern Greenland

Travel Guide North America Greenland Northern Greenland

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Introduction

The Far North of Greenland is sparsely inhabited and exceptionally cold. Even getting here is an achievement, and getting around is an exercise in planning, as the tourist infrastructure found in other parts of Greenland simply is not present here.

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Sights and Activities

ATOW1996 is a tiny uninhabited island (about 10 meters across and 1 meter high) in the Arctic Ocean, north of Greenland, and is considered the northernmost piece of permanent land on Earth - though there are a couple of unconfirmed potential islands further north. So far the only sighting of the island was in a 1996 exploration; beyond that you'd have to be incredibly resourceful and adventurous to make it here and back alive. The nearest city is Qaanaaq.

Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis is one of nature's most spectacular phenomena. It can be witnessed throughout Greenland on clear nights from the months of September to April.

Dog sledding

Dog sledding is a unique activity that visitors can experience in Greenland. It is even possible to get your dog sledding license in the town of Tasiilaq on the east coast of Greenland. The area in the central west of Greenland, from Kangerlussuaq to the Disko Bay is also a good option for dogsledding trips. Expect to pay around €250 for a full day.

Hiking

There are many opportunities to go hiking in Greenland, where vast open spaces are in abundance. Several hiking routes exist between towns for those interested in longer trips. There are even possibilities to walk on the ice cap but this requires some skills and good physical condition. Especially the south of Greenland is a good place to hiking as there is a choice of simple walks ranging from several hours to a day but also overnight trips and mulitple-day trips are possible. Distances between towns are relatively short here, so you can combine a stay in several of those places, travel between them by boat or helicopter and do hikes from those villages. There is also a good mix of history, culture and fantastic nature.

Kayaking

Kayaking in Greenland is an exciting possibility for experienced kayakers. The kayak (or qajaq) is an Inuit invention, adding a sense of history to paddling the Arctic waters.

Midnight Sun

Most of Greenland lies above the Arctic Circle so there is 24 hours of daylight for days or even weeks in much of the country. Even the more visited southern part of Greenland experience just a few hours of dark-ish conditions. It's a magnificent feeling and if you want to go hiking at night: no problem!

Northeast Greenland National Park

The Northeast Greenland National Park is by far the largest national park in the world. It cover 972,000 square kilometres and covers about 45% (!) of Greenland, itself the largest island in the world (not counting Australia). The park is bigger than 163 countries are and it stretches the furthest north than any other park. It stretches over 1,400 kilometres from north to south, ranging from the permanently inhabited towns of Thule in the north of Greenland to the Scoresby Sound in the east of Greenland. The latter can be reached by direct summer flights from Reykjavik, while the first has to be reached by plane from other east coast settlements. The park was established in 1974 and expanded to its current size in 1988. There is no permanent habitation but a few dozen of researchers and their dogs usually inhabited some military and weather stations. Although estimates range widely, there are about 5,000 to 15,000 musk oxen, approximately 40% of the world population of musk ox. Many polar bears and walruses can be found here as well, mainly along the coastal areas. Other mammals include arctic fox, stoat, collared lemming and arctic hare. Other marine mammals include ringed seal, bearded seal, harp seal and hooded seal as well as narwhal and Beluga whale. Species of birds which breed in the park include great northern diver, barnacle goose, pink-footed goose, common eider, king eider, gyrfalcon, snowy owl, sanderling, ptarmigan and raven.

Wildlife

Although it's not Africa, Greenland has its fair share of wildlife which you won't encounter anywhere else, except a few other Nordic countries. Muskox, Caribou, Whales, Polar Foxes, Seals, Walruses, Reindeer and the occassional Polar Bear are all present in the country, some of them even visible in the far south.

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Events and Festivals

  • The National Day of Greenland is held on the 21st of June each year - the lightest day of the year - as a celebration of Greenland's traditions and cultural heritage. People often dress in national costumes to mark the occasion.
  • Return of the Sun - January’s return of the sun after several weeks or months of constant darkness is a major cause for celebration in Greenland. Although the exact day varies throughout the country, each local community celebrates the occasion with plenty of coffee, sweets, music, and special family togetherness.

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Getting There

Air Greenland is basically the only option for tourists. Tickets are expensive and the schedule is sparse. Airports exist at Qaanaaq and Upernavik.
There is also the Thule Air base, which belongs to the U.S. It has flights directly from the U.S., but only for people working there or invited.

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Getting Around

Air Greenland operates helicopter flights from the airports to settlements without airports.

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Northern Greenland Travel Helpers

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This is version 1. Last edited at 8:34 on Oct 31, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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