The island of glaciers
Spending a day or a year in the Arctic would help us learn what is really important in the world. Kalaallit Nunaat, the land of contrasts: glaciers, northern lights, mountains, flowers, icebergs; is a place that few people visit and can be a unique experience.
The first Inuit’s tribes arrived in 1300, from the Canadian Arctic. Inuit culture has been a great reference for Greenlanders, in the world they have highlighted essential tools that have been adapted and refined for generations; the qajaq, the Greenlandic sea kayak, is the symbol of an Arctic culture that has lived in the sea and its resources. The Qimusseq, “dog sled,” is also a tool of the past, widely used today. Being a contemporary society, sleds, in some cases, have been replaced by snowmobiles.
Fortunately, some things don’t disappear, myths and legends occupy a key place in Greenland. The Kaffemik is a Greenlandic tradition of celebrations. It’s only necessary to appear, take off your shoes; meet and greet people; bring a gift for the host; eat, drink and enjoy. There is always coffee and cakes in large quantities.
Sometimes there are fish soup, dried fish, seals and reindeer. The most lavish Kaffemik will have King Crab legs and perhaps a Polar Bear. Sometimes the host wears his national costume; a vivid colors ensemble with seal skin, wool and long white boots.
The Ullortuneq, “longest day,” is their national holiday, every summer solstice is celebrated. People wear traditional attire, the colors of their flag are everywhere and there are many popular cultural activities and outdoor musicals.
The organic cuisine its based on marine mammals, game animals, birds and fish that allows energy reserves for the Arctic winter. In the restaurants you can taste traditional Greenlandic food or menus where they fuse international food with typical ingredients of the country.
The northern lights are one of the main tourist attractions, they can be observed from the early autumn until the middle of spring; the night sky is illuminated by a green glow. A legend relates that when the northern lights dance, it means that the dead are playing football with a walrus skull. The Aurora Borealis is there all the year, but can’t be seen during the summer months in Greenland due to the midnight sun that can be experienced north of the Arctic Circle for a period lasting to five months. The town, Qaanaaq has the highest number of days with midnight sun and the most winter darkness. However, reflections of moonlight in the snow and the glow from the Northern Lights help to light up the landscape during this period.
Hot springs are an unexpected natural phenomenon, surrounded by icebergs, is a rare experience elsewhere in the world. Uunartoq has natural springs with temperatures of 37 degrees Celsius.
In South Greenland turquoise ice mountains are frequently seen, smaller than those in the north. Some icebergs move south before they melt at latitudes of around 40 degrees. The areas around Ilulissat and Uummannaq are known of large icebergs that break off the glaciers in the deep fjords. In Kangerlussuaq, the majority of visitors can fly, sail, drive or walk several hours to the fringe of the ice which at almost 100.000 years old.
Heliskiing rinks can be found the coastline to Denmark Strait, where whales, seals and polar bears live all year. The Arctic Circle has peaks up to 2.000 meters and wide glaciers, where the heliskiers moreover skiing, enjoy the experience of living with the local population, mix with the people of the community and live a more attractive alpine adventure. In the region are 250.000 km2 of wildlife that can be seen from the window of a helicopter. During the heliskiing season you can add dogsledding or snowmobiling experiences in and around Tasiilaq.
The desire to create the world’s more difficult race on skis culminated in the first Arctic Circle Race of Greenland, in 1998, and today has become the most important cultural and athletic institution in the community, with a distance of 160 kilometers in Sisimiut.
Climbing for sport in Greenland began to be in fashion after 1950, since then, the National Park of Northern Greenland, with peaks up to nearly 3,000 meters in height are visited by climbers, mainly from England, France, Italy and Denmark. Access to all alpine areas requires an expedition permit.
Uummannaq bay and Upernavikwas recently rediscovered by some of the world’s best rock climbers, who sometimes used their own boats to reach the fjords between the Nuussuaq Peninsula and the town of Upernavik.
Watkins range is the area with the highest mountains in Greenland, culminating in GunnbjørnFjeld, located behind the Blosseville coast, is one of the most visited mountain areas in the whole country.
Evighedsfjorden, “the fjord of eternity” is a climbing area close to Maniitsoq and very popular among the Danish since the 60’s; the area is frequently used for extreme skiing and heliskiing.
Greenlandic fashion designers
They combine lightness clothing suited to the Arctic weather, mix the wilderness with the city. Thousands of years of highly developed techniques in sewing animal skins are combined today with practical and elegant Scandinavian style. Greenland's seal skins are allowed in fashion as they live freely and Greenlanders use their meat to feed and their skin to dress.
There are Greenlandic designers recognized in the fashion world as the young designer of Nuuk, Najannguaq Davidsen Lennert who combines different materials such as silk wool and leather.
In 2002 Rita and NickieIsaksen set up the brand Isaksen Design, their qualities are: comfort, functionality and sustainability. Black, white and red are the colours in all their collections, these have great significance in the Greenlandic spiritual world: Black represents the spirit world, white the bones of ancestors and red is the blood of life.
Bibi Chemnitz mixes Greenlandic traditions and motifs, Scandinavian freshness and urban life. With an important fashion role, her collections can be purchased from Nuuk, Sisimiut, Aasiaat to Tokyo, Hong Kong or Berlin.
Greenland’s bigger towns have unique architecture, functional, innovative and striking, based on the Nordic tradition.
Qinngorput, a suburb of Nuuk, have an apartments larges and lights, with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies that allow you to enjoy the view of the northern lights. The residential area of Iiminaq, is characterized by large wooden houses, the huge living room windows provide a view of the Sermitsiaq landmark. In Nuuk, Jagtvej, there are the “twin towers” of Greenland that rise above the city center.
The establishment of Home Rule in 1979 served to join the old and modern architecture. Cities like Sisimiut, Qaqortoq and Nuussuaq, resumed the classic wooden houses, colonial style, now built with two and three floors to achieve spacious and bright spaces.
The houses of culture, Taseralik in Sisimiut and Katuaq in Nuuk, stand out as originals. The flickering of the northern lights can be seen in Katuaq’s architecture.
The Nuuk’s swimming pools, Malik, are considered at the most beautiful of its kind in the Nordic countries, the roof is based on the building’s Greenlandic name – Malik that means wave. Swimmers have an incomparable view of the fjord and the hills, which can be seen from the huge windows.
The capital of Greenland was founded by the missionary Hans Egede, is the largest city in the country and is surrounded by nature and modernity. In this site you can see ancient traditions, modern twists and cultural diverse influences. In this city we can find a gourmet restaurants, fashion boutiques, and the Katuaq Cultural Center is inspired by the Northern Lights.
In the National Museum of Greenland there are the mummies of Qilakitsoq. Greenland has always been a land for travellers, whether they be the first people to set their sealskin-clad feet about 4500 years ago, also we can see how European explorers arrived at the start of the last century.
The city and the parliament allow us to learn about urban arctic living, at the Nuuk Museum of Art we can appreciate the new and old Inuit’s culture. Fish is the traditional dish of the Arctic, mainly halibut and shrimp with angelica, emblematic herb of the region. You can taste craft beers in the largest microbrewery in Greenland. Traditions merge with modern culture, Nuuk has an underground panorama, full of bike pilots and bohemian artists; In the Cultural Center of Katuaq, you can find the main artistic and musical events of the city. The December dates are ideal to attend one of the most important events: the lighting of the Christmas tree, next door is the mailbox of Santa Claus, place “headquarters” of the North Pole.
The Nuuk Cathedral, Annaassisitta Oqaluffia in Greenlandic, it was built in 1849, made of wood and painted red, actually is one of the smallest cathedrals in the world.
To the north, in the Nuusuaq district there are heated pools, shooting club, golf course and various cultural workshops. Ilisimatusarfik is one of the smallest universities in the world and where students skate or practice their cycling skills.
The second largest town in Greenland, means “the people living in a place where there are fox dens”. The town is an important cruise destination for both expedition vessels and medium sized cruise ships. In the midst of such wide territory, the adventure scale hasn’t limits. River fishing; hiking and racing through the mountains; as well as snowmobiles are part of the fun of the Arctic Polar Circle
An alternative is skiing through the mountains in the Arctic Circle Race. It’s an event when locals and visitors stand side by side pushing their limits and having fun while doing it. The mental and physical challenges happen during competition, adrenaline is very high. At the end, everyone finishes with a sense of accomplishment and multiple experiences.
In this place, the most important thing is the marine world, it stands out for sailing or kayaking. City founded by Niels Egede in 1759, called Egedesminde to honor his father, Hans Egede. The Summer Aasiaat Midnight Sun Marathon is a challenging alternative to the city's typical tourism; to go across the 42 km is necessary to go through the same places several times in the race. In winter, residents frequently use the same tracks for cross-country skiing.
The iceberg paradise like means their name. It has approximately 4500 residents and 350 Qimmit “sled dogs”, is the third largest town in Greenland.
This town is a UNESCO World Heritage, great site for sailing between icebergs, and get to know the museum house of Knud Rasmussen, polar explorer and Greenlandic anthropologist, who was the first musher to cross the Northwest Passage in a dog sled. His great achievement was the Fifth Thule Expedition of 1921-1924, accompanied by 7 more people, crossed from Greenland to the Pacific (around 29.000 kms) to find the origin of the Inuit people; in this expedition they made excavations, got along with them, learned their language and lived their traditions.
Is the most isolated town in Greenland, the main source of income comes from hunting and tourism that visits “The National Park,” the largest in the world. The Sirius Patrol is the only human presence in a landscape dominated by birds, polar bears, reindeer, walrus… The expedition cruises give us the opportunity to observe Gunnbjørn, the tallest Arctic mountain with 3694 m tall.
Is located on an island south of Greenland, it means “the place with polar bears”. Is the 10th largest city in Greenland. Five villages and several sheep farms surround it. Ketil, a 2010 m tall mountain, is one of the tallest along with Nalumasortoq and Ulamertorsuaq. The crystal-clear waters in the Tasermiut Fjord attract the most thrill seeker tourism.
Is the youngest city in Greenland, in 60’s decade, a Norse ruin was accidentally discovered in the middle of town where the sheep were grazing. Archeologists were digging up Norse artifacts and a long house in before long; it’s believed that this house was the first place where Eric the Red was settled, before moving to Brattalid, at the end of the Tunulliarfik Fjord.
The history of the Norsemen, minerals and rocks, including the Tugtupit, one of the rarest minerals discovered in the region in 1962, is on display at the local museum.
In 1982, Narsaq was the place where the 1,000th anniversary of the arrival of the Norsemen to Greenland was celebrated.
The largest town in South Greenland gives us art, culture, history, boat tours, hot springs, kayaking and hiking trips.
The sub-arctic Riviera is a special Greenlandic region with icebergs in the bay and whales in the fjord. The hike around Lake Tasersuaq will take us from the city center to the mountains, in a few minutes. The former episcopal Garöar was a focal point for Norse and visitors from Iceland and Norway. The ruins of the cathedral and the bishop's palace have been renovated and are currently an attraction of the Viking period. To get to know the sheep residence of Igaliku it will be necessary to walk for 5 days.
The fjords are kayaking destinations; the round in boat will take you to places like church ruin at Hvalsey, Narsaq, Igaliku and the Uunartoq hot springs with temperatures close to 38° Celsius.
Is one of the best places in the country to be to experience the Northern Lights, in the months of January to April. In the mountains around town, reindeer, polar foxes and mountain hares can be observed. Greenland halibut fishing and the arctic crab are still the city’s prime business and pride. The old fishermen pass the family tradition on to younger generations.
In the city are only a small hotel, near by the sea, and from the terrace, it’s often possible to spot the seals and whales seem more active when the midnight sun dominates the summer. One of the oldest houses in Greenland was built in 1734 and today is the museum of the city.
The largest town in Eastern Greenland is the coming door of almost type of Greenland’s tourism experience. A town with 2.000 inhabitants has activities in summer and winter.
Are multiples cultural events in the town, participate in the coastal soccer championship, there are boat trips to the ice fjord called Sermilik; In Tiniteqilaaq, we can see minke whales and narwhals, as well as huge floating icebergs. Also is possible do downhill skiing, driving snowmobile, multi-day trips by dog sled in order to obtain the license of a sled driver, heliskiing adventures in remote mountain areas and the final challenge of crossing the Ice Cap, are some of the sports and recreational experiences that can be had in Tasiilaq and other cities of this great country.
Text: ± Photo: UltraPanavision / Eugene Kaspersky / Yuyan / © wwf.ca / travel aiwals / cerdosbe / adventure consult / rove / Andrew Grandison / PAUL SOUDERS / equilibrium global / getwallpapers / SOUTH CHINA MORNING / workshop / equilibrium global / alpha coderes