Embarking on an adventure in arctic Greenland has the potential to be unlike anything you have ever experienced before. The landscape here is so vast, and creates a startling impact with its diversity.
In southern Greenland you’ll gaze upon a sterling sea covered in icebergs and looming glassy glaciers, all of which contrast with the intensely green landscape and leafy tundra. It’s this divergence that really makes Greenland unique, as well as highly memorable.
While in Greenland, there is surely no lack of things to do and see. (Make sure to do them all well bundled — even in the summer the highs here are only around 50 degrees Fahrenheit!)
Here are the top 5 amazing things to do while you’re in Greenland:
(1) Trek to the Ice Sheet
The Greenlandic Ice Sheet is a gigantic ice cap that, in some places, is up to 100,000 years old. The ice sheet has covered large parts of Greenland for the last 2-3 million years. But active glaciers and constant melting have meant that the ice has been recycled many times.
At its highest point, it is 10,500 feet thick. You can fly, sail, drive or walk to the fringe of the ice, and in some places you can step out onto it, an experience that makes you feel like you are in a different world.
Thrill seekers looking for a challenge also have the chance to trek across the ice sheet. It is an extreme sport and one that requires great competence as well as special permission. There are, however, a handful of companies in Greenland able to offer this option to their customers.
(2) Watch Whales
During the summer months, you can see Humpback, Minke, and Fin whales in Greenlandic waters. During the winter, you may spot Beluga, Narwhal, or Bowhead whales.
Humpback whales are the largest, weighing up to 66,000 pounds, yet somehow they manage to be the acrobats of the group. They can be seen jumping out of the water, flicking their tails and flippers. The Humpback whale is easily recognizable because of its humped dorsal fin and white flippers.
(3) Witness the Midnight Sun
For those who live in Greenland, Midnight Sun is not just an occurrence, but also a lifestyle and a state of mind. Daylight around the clock challenges the traditional concepts of night time and day time. Midnight Sun can be experienced north of the Arctic Circle for a period lasting from one day to five months, depending on how far north you travel.
In central Greenland, Midnight Sun occurs from the end of May until the end of July. During this period, the soft, warm rays from the low-lying sun make the surrounding scenery appear ethereal and dream-like. Icebergs and hilltops glow in a colorful bath of pink, purple, yellow and red light — a breathtaking sight.
(4) Try Transportation by Dogsled
Dog lover, snow lover, nature lover, adventure lover… Any of these will definitely get a thrill from embarking on a dogsled ride.
You can ride in a dogsled as a passenger in Tasiilaq, which is located on Greenland’s east coast. Then after a couple of days of training, you can qualify for a license to drive a dogsled!
What makes dog sledding really unique is that it is possible only in the area north of the Arctic Circle and in Eastern Greenland. This area is known locally as “the dogsled district.” Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq are the two most southerly towns on the west coast from where it is possible to drive dogsleds during the winter and spring.
(5) Witness Ilulissat Icefjord
Ilulissat Icefjord is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and Greenland’s biggest natural attraction. You may have heard about it in the news lately because it is at the center of international focus on global warming. Because of this, Ilulissat Icefjord has recently been visited by many politicians and diplomats, including John McCain and Nancy Pelosi.
Ilulissat Icefjord is the pre-eminent glacier in the northern hemisphere. The site consists of Sermeq Kujalleq, the most productive glacier draining the inland icecap on Greenland, and the iceberg-filled fjord named Kangia. Ilulissat Icefjord is situated in western Greenland, north of the Arctic Circle.