Five experiences not to be missed whether you visit Greenland during the summer or winter months: Authentic dog sled rides, the uplifting magic of the northern lights, the splendour of the ice sheet and Greenland’s fascinating whales. To top if all off there’s the people of Greenland: pioneers; simultaneously ancient and modern. They look forward to welcoming you.
Dog sledding is at once a social, physical, and nature based experience drawing on centuries of development and refinement of an essential means of transportation in the Arctic.
Today’s dog sledding is a mix of everyday transportation and expedition style travel experience, and dog sled drivers are always locals with a distinct understanding of their natural environment and a deep connection with their dogs.
In the sled dog districts the dogs provide rhythm and work for their owners. For visitors, the sled dog grounds is a cultural experience filled with strange Arctic tools, friendly pups, and eager dogs waiting for the next ride.
Northern lights bring a sense of connection with forces much greater than humans, and they give us a sense of scale when they dwarf entire towns under swirls of red, green, magenta and blue.
Northern lights are part of Greenland’s identity, and the phenomenon will even bring Greenlanders to a halt in the streets as we walk home from work or step outside on a clear night to enjoy the sky.
The northern lights are best experienced between September and April, and especially deeper into the winter when the nights are longer.
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The fact that 85% of Greenland is covered by an ice cap has a profound impact on climate, culture, everyday lives, and travel experiences throughout the country.
Take the world famous Ilulissat Icefjord as a core example of the importance of the ice. Icebergs are pushed right from the Greenland Ice Sheet into the waters of the Disko Bay, providing rich fishing grounds to sustain local communities and giving visitors unique access to a truly phenomenal natural environment.
Or consider how sea ice creates winter highways for dog sleds, snowfall creates water reservoirs, meltwater lakes act as power resources, and glaciers carve out the mountain ranges you hike through or fly over. The ice is everywhere in Greenland.
We, the people, are at the core of your experience in Greenland. You will meet us through cultural experiences and in everyday life in towns and villages. We are your local backcountry guides and boat skippers, hunters and dog sled drivers. Everywhere you go the uniqueness of Greenland comes out through your meetings with the locals.
We call ourselves pioneers because waves of immigrants have adapted to the forces of nature and climate in the Arctic and shaped the modern Greenland. And even today we still have a habit of breaking new ground in the process of building a diverse nation on the foundations laid down by Inuit hunters, Norse settlers, Northern European traders, missionaries, explorers and many others.
Whale watching is a progressive dialogue where the patient observer is rewarded with a visit from one of the most impressive animals of the sea. With binoculars trained at the surface, and while waves gently rock the quiet boat, the tension and anticipation builds up until someone suddenly shouts “Whale!”.
What follows might just be the spout, a raised back, or a tail whip before another stint of silence and eager waiting, but sometimes a whole pod of whales surface simultaneously or a playful young humpback whale breaches the surface in a seemingly impossible acrobatic trick – lifting its entire body clear of the water in a mighty jump. All those encounters leave people a little different, a little more aware of the wonders of life in the sea.