Greenland sits between Europe and North America, although it’s an autonomous country it’s still part of the Kingdom of Denmark. With just over 56,000 inhabitants, it is the least densely populated country in the world, which is no surprise given how huge it is!
So what is Greenland famous for?
Icebergs, polar bears and oil mostly! Although at the moment Greenland isn’t a tourism hub, this could all change in the future, with local authorities gaining more power and the strength of the local economy extracting the huge wealth of natural resources.
Whaling and fishing are very traditional, however they still play a huge part in the local economy and are a vital trade; in a country with very few mammals this is a lifeline for many residents.
Sadly for me one of the residents I met whilst visiting Greenland appeared to be wearing mostly dead animals…it was rather disturbing, but I’m sure it keeps her warm!
How do you travel there?
From Europe, it’s relatively easy with several flights from Iceland serving the capital Nuuk. Alternatively from Canada there is a flight from Iqaluit using Greenland’s own airline, Air Greenland. Surprisingly, this airline is doing incredibly well and is continuing to attract visitors from all over the world using their direct service with Copenhagen in Denmark.
If you prefer an adventure, you could try to join one of the Arctic coastal ferries, just make sure you pack your thermals!
So where did I visit?
I was visiting Iceland for one week and noticed that I could take a day trip to Kulusuk in eastern Greenland, it was definitely not cheap and I think if I’d been a more experienced traveller at the time I would have done the trip independently and stayed overnight.
When I took the tour in 2010 with Air Iceland I almost missed the plane, as stupidly I hadn’t planned the trip very well. Reykjavik Airport is located in the centre of the city, however I’d had gone to the wrong part of the airport and unless I wanted a long walk it had to be a taxi to get me there in time. Iceland is not a cheap country either, so I don’t recommend doing this … plan ahead!
Finally once I arrived everything was fine and I boarded the Fokker 50 Air Iceland flight from Reykjavik to Kulusuk. Although Greenland is officially part of Denmark, it is not part of the European Union, however many visitors can simply arrive and don’t require a visa.
Kulusuk is a surprisingly modern airport compared to some I’ve been to, it receives one daily flight from Reykjavik depending on the time of year. Due to its location, many items are imported making the island nation rather expensive to purchase goods.
The population of Kulusuk over the last 20 years has decreased by approximately 20%; the current population is only 322 residents (Source: 2008 statistics, Statistics Greenland). With very few roads, the airport is the community’s main connection to the outside world. Thankfully, however they haven’t lost touch with their heritage and the husky and sled in winter are still one of the only viable ways to get around.
When I visited in August 2010, officially it was summer, although many icebergs could be seen floating by as I took a boat ride around the harbour. Coming face to face with one of the striking blue and white mounds coming towards you was certainly an experience!
Sadly I don’t remember the name of the local lady I met, however she invited us in to her home and played us a local song that was accompanied by a rather interesting dance routine. It’s always intriguing to see how people live in other countries, especially in such an isolated community, however she had a TV and seemed relatively comfortable in her one bedroomed house overlooking the beautiful frozen landscape.
I would love to see more of Greenland, especially the capital Nuuk, although mass tourism is unlikely anytime soon thankfully.
Plan your trip to Greenland
Check out the Visit Greenland website with all the information you need to plan your Arctic adventure, believe me you won’t be disappointed!
If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.