Western Greenland

Travel Guide North America Greenland Western Greenland

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Introduction

Western Greenland (Greenlandic: Kitaa, Danish: Vestgrønland) is a region of Greenland. Home to the capital, Nuuk, this is the part of Greenland that you would probably think of if you've only seen the stereotypical picture. Large icebergs can be seen floating in the ocean with dogsled trips from one small settlement to another. In these settlements, fish and sharkmeat are often hanging outside small colorful houses along with the constant barking of dogs in the background.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

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.

Ilulissat Icefjord

The Ilulissat Icefjord is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of a few glaciers through which the Greenland ice cap reaches the sea. It has assumed great importance, due to increasing concerns around climate change. The ice fjord is located on the west coast of Greenland about 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The Sermeq Kujalleq is one of the fastest (19 metres per day!) and most active glaciers in the world. The glacier has been studied for more than 250 years and this has helped to develop the understanding of climate change and icecap glaciology. This natural phenomenon is an absolute highlight of Greenland.

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!

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.
  • The Arctic Circle Race is one of the world’s toughest cross-country skiing races, held in Sisimiut every year.
  • The Nuuk Snow Festival allows sculptors four days to create fantastic constructions from snow. Teams from Greenland and the around the world take part in this festival held in February, when snow is plentiful.
  • The World Ice Golf Championship is a unique golf tournament held in March near the town of Uummannaq in Northern Greenland. Surrounded by glaciers and enormous icebergs, golfers pit their skills against each other on the 9-hole course. Red golf balls are used in order to be able to see them.
  • The Arctic Palerfik is a 3-day dog sledding trip in Ilulissat. Over 100 sleds, 200 participants and 1,000 sled dogs take part in this annual event held in April.
  • 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. Ilulissat families and schoolchildren drive dogsleds to Holms Hill, known as Seqinniarfik in Greenlandic, and sing songs to greet the returning sun.
  • Polar Circle Marathon - The self-described “coolest marathon on Earth” takes place north of the Arctic Circle towards the end of October and takes approximately 25 percent longer to complete than most marathons due to its challenging icy and hilly terrain. Although most of the run is on a snow covered gravel road, runners must also traverse the actual ice cap near Kangerlussuaq, a thousand year old ice wall. Racers can also take part in a shorter mini-marathon wearing regular running shoes despite chilly temperatures.

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Getting There

The trans-oceanic service to Greenland either lands at Kangerlussuaq, Narsarsuaq (the only two airports in the country which can accept anything larger than a turboprop), or the capital Nuuk from Iceland and Canada with smaller planes in the summer.

Kangerlussaq is the main hub with daily flights year-around. The other international flights are seasonal.

From Kangerlussaq, you can reach any other city or settlement in the country, through Air Greenland's domestic network.

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Getting Around

There is no road system between settlements. The easiest way to get around Greenland is by plane, particularly Air Greenland. Within Western Greenland, there are airports at Aasiaat, Ilulissat, Kangerlussuaq, Maniitsoq, Nuuk, Paamiut, Qaarsut and Sisimiut. Air Greenland also operates helicopter flights to smaller settlements.

In the summer, Arctic Umiaq Line passenger ships provide service to destinations between Narsarsuaq and Uummannaq along the west coast. Diskoline passenger ships provide service to settlements around Ilulissat.

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Eat

Suaasat is their national dish. A soup usually made out of rice, onions, bayleaf, seal, or whale, reindeer, or sea-birds.

Petrified Greenland shark is also eaten. It is not as popular as it is in Iceland, and is an acquired taste. The Icelandic name of the dish is Hákarl.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 12:57 on Oct 30, 19 by Utrecht. 11 articles link to this page.

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