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The National Park
Facts about the National Park
- The size of the Northeast Greenland National Park is 972,000 km2 with more than 1,300 km. “as the crow flies” from the southernmost to the northernmost point. The coastline of the National Park is considerably longer (18,000 km) due to the many deep fjords.
- Northeast Greenland National Park is the world’s largest and northernmost national park and the 9th largest protected area (the only larger protected areas all consist mostly of sea). The National Park includes both the northernmost land area (Kap Morris Jesup) and the largest Ice mass (The Greenland Ice Sheet) in the northern hemisphere.
- The National Park is larger than most of the World’s countries. It would place 31st if it were a country, just behind Egypt and larger than Tanzania.
- The total number of year-around inhabitants is less than 40 people (plus app. 70 sled dogs). There are no settlements or towns in the National Park – only research, military, and meteorological stations.
- Both Denmark and Norway occupied and claimed parts of Northeast Greenland. The two countries agreed to settle the matter at the Permanent Court of International Justice in 1933, where Norway lost. Since then, Northeast Greenland has been united with the rest of Greenland.
- Sirius is the world’s only military dog sled patrol. The job – which has low pay and no holidays – entails journeying with a partner and a dog team for 26 months and more than 8,000 km. The Sirius Patrol is an elite unit under the Danish Armed Forces, where six new members each year are hand-picked amongst a high number of applicants.
- At the shoreline of Kap Morius Jessup – the World’s northernmost land area – the Arctic Tern breeds. After raising its young, the gull-sized seabird leaves Greenland to fly to Antarctica to spend the winter here. This is the longest annual migration in the animal kingdom – equivalent to if the Arctic Tern flew to the moon and back three times during its lifetime.
- The Greenland Ice Sheet is one of the coldest places on Earth. At the Summit Station in the National Park, temperatures can reach as low as a record-breaking minus 70 degrees Celsius.
- Annual precipitation in the northernmost parts of the National Park is so low, that the area qualifies as an “Arctic Desert”. In fact, there are areas in the Sahara Desert that receive more annual rain than North Greenland.
- The National Park is so remote that only a limited number of people get the chance to visit this pristine wilderness. It’s been said that more people summit Mount Everest every year than there are visitors in The Northeast Greenland National Park.
The research, military and meteorological stations have a short, gravel landing strip – these are however not open to the public. With the difficult accessibility and lack of infrastructure in place for the public, you can imagine that visiting the National Park on your own itinerary is not cheap and requires planning, as you will have to charter your own airplane or boat from Iceland or Greenland.
Cruise ships usually depart from Iceland or Svalbard.
Permit to access the National Park must be applied for at least 12 weeks before departure at the Greenland Government: Ministry of Science and Environment – Department of Nature and Climate. The application must contain information in accordance with the Greenland Government’s detailed requirements, including e.g. information about the purpose of the visit, itinerary, safety equipment, planned activities and documentation of the participants’ suitability to complete the visit, etc. Link is here
Closest ports of entry:
Why the National Park?
Few places on Earth offer truly pristine wilderness untouched by humans! The Northeast Greenland National Park is one of the last remaining large, protected areas where wildlife, plants, and landscapes are left unspoiled. The National Park is uninhabited by humans apart from the personnel on a few meteorological, research and military stations, among them the headquarters of the elite naval unit Sirius Dog Sled Patrol. The scenery and vast landscapes of the National Park are unparalleled with enormous tundra areas, spectacular mountains and deep fjords filled with icebergs. Although the National Park may be difficult to reach, visitors are rewarded with the unique experience of almost one million square kilometres of the High-Arctic ecosystem.