A chorus of Greenlandic sled dogs at the base of the heart-shaped mountain calls you to adventure amidst the enormous icebergs of the Uummannaq Fjord.
Uummannaq has two supermarkets – a large Pilersuisoq in the main part of town and a Rema a little further up the hill.
Souvenirs are difficult to find in Uummannaq, but you could try the Museum
It is best to bring all your camping and outdoor gear with you, though you may find some basic, limited equipment in the hardware store in the port.
Uummannaq is located almost 600km north of the Arctic Circle on a small island of the same name. To arrive there is an adventure in itself, requiring at least 2 domestic flights (Ilulissat – Qaarsut – Uummannaq) or one flight (Ilulissat – Qaarsut) and a boat transfer. There are no direct international flights. The closest international airport is Ilulissat.
There are no regularly scheduled boat services to Uummannaq, though some cruise ships do call in.
The center of Uummannaq is very compact so most visitors simply walk to get around. There are also taxis available and a bus that follows a set route.
For excursions in the area, the most common way to get around is with a boat (summer) and with dog sled or snowmobile (winter).
Uummannaq offers two types of accommodation - entire houses for rent, or guesthouses with several rooms and shared facilities. There is no hotel.
Uummannaq and its surrounding fjord is a photographer’s paradise that completely changes character, but loses none of its grandeur, as the seasons change.
During summer in Uummannaq, sailing trips will take you to where the Qilakitsoq mummies (Greenland’s oldest mummies) were discovered, to the brilliantly yellow “Arctic Desert” with rocks more than 1.5 billion years old, to nearby settlements, impossibly steep bird cliffs, actively calving glacier faces, and past icebergs that are at least as big as those found in Ilulissat.
Whale watching tours give you the best chance of getting close to these summertime marine visitors, and you can also go fishing for cod, redfish and other fish species that are plentiful in the waters around Uummannaq. Make sure you buy a fishing license first.
Back on land, and despite the small size of the island, there are several marked hiking trails. Often these lead to mountain lakes, but the most popular is the relatively short hike to Santa’s Cabin. For more experienced adventurers, it is possible to climb Uummannaq Mountain if you have the technical skills and equipment, and for long-distance trekkers, the nearby Nuussuaq peninsula and Upernavik mountains offer a wealth of options for hiking expeditions and are unknown beyond the local community.
When the sea freezes over during winter, the long wait for the large number of Greenlandic sled dogs tied up around Uummannaq comes to an end. Options ranging from 2 hours to several days means that everyone can travel as the Uummannaq hunters still do and experience this traditional form of arctic transportation. Take a quick dogsled on the sea ice near Uummannaq, visit one of the nearby settlements or glaciers, try your hand at long-line ice-fishing (halibut is the prize catch), or possibly even accompany a hunter as he searches for seals and small game.
Alternatively, get your adrenaline pumping and travel further faster on the Arctic’s modern form of winter transportation – the snowmobile. Or, if you want to travel in heated comfort – simply drive across the sea-ice in the latest 4×4.
Whichever way you choose to get around, don’t forget to look up, as the Northern Lights often dance brightly in the skies above Uummannaq.
Uummannaq itself is a fascinating town with most of the interesting sites clustered around the harbour.
You can’t miss the enormous red post box behind the church where Santa’s mail is received. The letters are then distributed to his office, which is located in the yellow building between the church and the museum. Step into this festive workspace where hundreds of messages sent from children all over the world are responded to by students and volunteers keen to keep the magic of Christmas alive. While you are there, you can also check out the latest art exhibition in the other rooms of what is known as “The Old Doctor’s House”.
This is just one of many historic buildings clustered in the center of town. Ask at the museum for a leaflet that shows their locations and provides a little information about each, including the Museum itself (formerly a hospital), the Whale Blubber House (now home to an eclectic collection of items), three turf houses (one of which was in use up until 1989!), and several buildings that have been repurposed for commercial purposes. You could also join a city walking tour for more information.
Other key sites not to be missed are the beautiful stone church made from raw material quarried out of the hillside where it now stands, and Uummannaq’s ridiculously picturesque football field (soccer is big in Greenland) where bright green astroturf contrasts with the deep blue fjord and brilliantly white icebergs.
All accommodation in Uummannaq provides facilities for you to cook for yourself. However, if you would like a night off, there are basic fast food and Asian-style options in town.