Travel made in August 2017
There is nothing comparable to Greenland. It is unique, yet diversified, but unique in its diversity. Going there is an experience one must have at least once in a lifetime, to return with a different vision of the world - a vision that resets one’s perspective as to what is essential in life.
Since the most ancient of times dreams have played an important role in the life of the Inuit, Greenland’s native inhabitants who make up 90% of its population of 60,000 today. Indeed as soon as one arrives in Greenland the feeling sets in of living in a dream, a world whose reality is different than the one we’re accustomed to in the post-industrial civilization we live in.
"In the beginning there was nothing living, no animal, just the first man and the first woman. " Inuit beliefs are heavily influenced by the precariousness of life in their environment, and that makes perfect sense when you come to Greenland. The immensity of this pristine untamed natural world which is the world’s largest island (Australia is considered a continent), the miles and miles of ice, the immense jagged mountains, the absence of trees, the colossal marine sculptures of the icebergs, the amazingly unstable weather, all these make the visitor experience their own humanity on a natural scale. The word “Inuit”, which means “human” takes on its full meaning.
Greenland is a paradise for every kind of photographer, offering endless – and endlessly varied – photo opportunities. The place feels as though it is dotted with natural artworks and open-air art galleries. And there’s more than nature here, there is also a long and fascinating history of native civilizations and foreign influences.
The first migration of Amerindians to Greenland, the Saqqaq culture, took place around 2500 B.C. The first and second independent cultures followed, then the Dorset culture in 800 B.C. At the beginning of the tenth century a Norwegian by the name of Gunnbjörn Ulfsson encountered Greenland, leading to Viking exploration starting in 982 followed by colonization of South Greenland by Erik the Red. The Vikings however did not survive the small ice age. The Inuit people came to North Greenland around 1250, where they developed the Thule culture. In 1721 the missionary Hans Egede was sent to Greenland, marking the beginning of modern nordic colonization, with the island ending up under sole Danish control starting in 1815. In 1951 Greenland obtained its own parliament. In 1975 a Danish-Greenland joint commission was set up and, three years later, the Danish parliament granted autonomy to Greenland. Place names in Danish have been replaced by Inuit names. Thus, Godthåb, its capital and center of the Danish civilization on the island, became Nuuk. In 1985, Greenland adopted its own flag, using the colors of the Danish flag. Many feel this gradual process will lead to full indepence in the near future, which would make Greenland the only aboriginal nation state in the Northern hemisphere.
When Germany invaded Denmark during the second World War, the Danish ambassador to the United States, Henrik Kauffmann, announced he would no longer accept orders from Denmarka and, on April 9, 1941, signed a treaty with the United States that gave it the right to establish military bases in Greenland. Thes territory served primarily as a base for American observation aircraft in search of German submarines in the Atlantic, but was also used as a refueling station for some maritime missions. This treaty, and it’s successor in 1951, have formed the legal basis for a significant U.S. military presence in Greenland with its peak activity during the Cold War, consisting primarily of observation stations and Air Force bases, which all of Greenland’s airports were originally built as. Another fascinating historical and visual vein to mine for unique photography opportunities.
We chose to begin our Greenland itinerary in the South of the country in order to gradually accustom ourselves to the drop in temperatures. We arrived on a Saturday at Narsarsuaq, our first stop, on a flight from Reykjavik. As soon as the plane began its descent we were overwhelmed by awe as we flew over the pack ice, then a Fjord, and finally the landing on a narrow plain bordered by high cliffs on one side, and the fjord on the other.
Narsarsuaq, which means "great plain", has the atmosphere of a place that’s at the edge of the inhabited world. It’s becoming a gateway to Greenland, attracting more and more tourists during the summer for the beauty of the Tunulliarfik Fjord, the possibility of hiking to a glacier, and its valley of flowers. We however were more interested in the visual possibilities offered by the settlement itself.
The airport was originally part of the US military base Bluie West One, built in 1941. Several thousand people were stationed there at the height of the base’s activity, but Narsarsuaq now has only 158 inhabitants. The Narsarsuaq Hotel where we stayed is a former barracks, added to the base during the Korean War. It offers a multitude of photographic possibilities for its architecture, atmosphere, living spaces and corridors that are reminiscent of those leading to the kitchens in the film “The Shining”.
A short distance away from the hotel is the Klubben Bar, which was opened in 1950 under the name Ravens Roost, and was previously the Airmen’s Club of Bluie West One. It retains its original bar from that period, and is open every Saturday from 10 pm to 3 am. This place was on our list of top priorities. We were looking forward to a unique expérience, but were far from suspecting how unique this evening would in fact turn out to be. Everyone in Narsarsuaq meets at the Klubben on Saturday evenings. Imagine an Inuit band rocking their hearts out, and a deserted dance floor bathed in alternating pink, blue, green and red under a slowly spinning Mirror ball. The atmosphere is one we thought possible only in movies, a true sense of community in a time-travel setting hidden away at the edge of the world. A sensory and photographic experience not to be missed.
For yet more immersion into the WWII era, take the road to the glacier, go past the airport, and you’ll come upon the site of the former U.S. hospital of which only the chimney remains. You’ll also find a small blue cabin which is the last survivor among the original 1940’s dwellings, vast hangars, huge dumps of oil barrels and other relics along with more recent discards (including, when we were there, an entire fishing boat) and a pebbled beach along the fjord littered with antique Coca Cola bottles.
Take time also to stroll among the Inuit housing units around the hotel, and be sure to visit the wonderful Narsarsuaq Museum located near the airport in a building which was Bluie West One’s original headquarters. The man who makes it happen is Ole Guldager, a Dane who has put his heart, soul and energy into bringing to life this fabulous place loaded with history. He also introduced bees to southern Greenland, and produces the only honey made on the island. He and his collaborator the photographer Ole Dorph are characters right out of a novel. We thank them for the kindness with which they welcomed us, opening the museum on a Sunday (normally the closing day) guiding us to several fascinating locations and offering a wealth of information. Adjacent to the museum are the Blue Ice Explorer travel agency office, the tourist information center and a café with a terrace overlooking the airfield and the fljord beyond it - a place for meeting and conversing.
Narsaq, which means “the plain”, has a population of 1600 inhabitants. It’s known for being the city of cowboys, as the villagers still like to call themselves, because of their history of using horses on their sheep breeding farms. Agriculture is possible on the northern plains of the city and provides locals with potatoes, turnips, carrots, lettuce and strawberries. Fishing remains the primary activity, although following the decline of some species and the subsequent closure of the Royal Greenland processing plant, the unemployment rate has increased considerably.
Narsaq is a beautiful small town on the shores of the Tunulliarfik fjord, where large glaciers pour out a multitude of icebergs that sail by the town’s shores. We stopped there on our boat route from Narsasuaq to Qaqortoq, and found it to be a small gem that would have warranted staying for at least two days. It offers a multitude of photographic possibilities thanks to its authentic character, its views, its multicolored individual houses. Everything here is poetry. Local history also arues in favor of a visit: Eric the Red established his first Viking encampment here, a complete house of that period was discovered right in the center of Narsaq, and there are several Scandinavian ruins nearby which are among the oldest in the region. There are also many hiking trails from Narsaq into the surrounding mountains, Ilimmaasaq, Kvanejfeld.
In a very different vein, the site is also known for its deposits of rare earths and Uranium. An Australian company in partnership with a Chinese company is waiting for a license to operate an open-cast uranium mine, with all the environmental and health consequences that implies. Of course these companies promise to operate cleanly and, while part of the population is opposed to the project and aware of the stakes, those suffering most from unemployment are attracted by the promises of jobs and of positive economic developments for the city.
The ice-bound area of Greenland has diminished greatly over the past 30 years, due to the global warming phenomenon for which all of us in the industrialized world bear some responsibility. As a result the mineral riches of Greenland are now becoming more accessible than ever, stirring the lust of various foreign companies. Going to Narsaq to practice responsible tourism isn’t only a wonderful experience, it’s also a way of engaging positively with the issue, and testifying through our images.
Qaqortoq, which means “the white one”, is the largest town in Southern Greenland with 3300 inhabitants. The economic center of the region, it’s in full expansion mode thanks to its shipyard, its tannery, and the fishing industry which remains its main activity. It’s also the education center of South Greenland, featuring a high school, a business school and a university. Qaqortoq is accessible both by helicopter and by boat from Narsarsuaq. It’s considered the most beautiful town in Greenland, however whereas the historical part is indeed lovely and the entire town is not lacking in charm, we found nearby Narsaq to be much more authentic. Nevertheless, if you have enough time to spend in southern Greenland, two or three days in Qaqortoq are warranted since it’s also the starting point for excursions to Hvalsey (Viking ruins, including one of the most ancient Churches on the island) and the hot baths of Unartoq. Each excursion requires one full day. Plan in advance and make sure departures for these places are scheduled on the days when you’ll be there: we had to give up on them because no boats were available. You’ll hear that it’s easy to find a boat on the spot, but in our experience that wasn’t true, so it’s best to organize those excursions ahead of time. Remember however that even the best laid plans are subject to the whims of the rapidly changing weather. Fog is a regular occurrence in Qaqortoq, making its port -which is beautiful in any circumstance- even more photogenic with the mist creating a very cinematic atmosphere reminiscent of classic “film noir”.
As always we explored the town both during the day and at night. Those wanderings are often the times when we find the best images, and really gain a sense of place. At night, don’t miss the Rockhouse - an arctic version of an American-style cafe, bar, restaurant and discotheque all in one. The front entrance features a life-size Elvis statue, perhaps the last thing you’d expect to find in the middle of the town’s typical small colorful houses, a touch of surrealism in the far North. During the day be sure to check out the center market, including the stall where the day’s catch of fishing or hunting is laid out for customers, it’s an authentic part of the town’s life. Closer to the industrial port you’ll also come across rock sculptures made by thirty artists for a project entitled "Stone and man” which photographic possibilities.
The capital of Greenland, Nuuk (which means "Cape Town" in Inuit language) boasts 17,000 residents and is located 240 kilometers from the Arctic Circle on a peninsula surrounded by Fjords, below the impressive rise of Sermitsiaq Mountain. Inhabited by the Vikings in the 10th century and by the Inuit since the 13th century, it was founded by Hans Egede under the name of Godthab (meaning good hope in Danish) in 1729. We were stuck there for an extra day and night beyond what we’d planned, as air traffic was grounded due to fog – a common occurrence in Greenland. As it turns out two days is just the right amount of time to explore the city in some depth, although of course there is a lot more to discover.
Nuuk, the seat of Greenland’s government, is an essential stop in order to grasp the dichotomy that faces this country torn between tradition and modernity. There is no other place like it in the world, and it’s a cornucopia of photographic opportunities. For anyone wishing to visually document the transformation taking place in this country it offers material for important work.
Massive drab blocks of housing developments, now decorated with painted murals, that were built in the 1970s to relocate Inuit hunters living in settlements that were closed on the west coast stand alongside modern buildings and colorful traditional houses. They give the city a very unusual atmosphere, at once attractive and frightening.
Strolling in Nuuk camera in hand is both rewarding and inspiring. As always be sure to explore both by day and by night, you’ll find a thousand photographic stories are there to be told. Inuit hunters lay out and sell their wares of raw caribou or elk meat, fresh or dried fish, in the open spaces between the buildings of a modern shopping complex. There’s the Katuaq Cultural Center, whose architecture is patterned after an aurora borealis. The historic district of the city, open bordering Davis Bay with its colorful houses and dominated by the statue of Hans Egede, also offers beautiful possibilities of compositions although of more conventional beauty. The walk will take you to the old colonial port where you will find the National Museum, which retraces the history of Greenland and displays the remarkable Qilakitsoq mummies; that room is particularly moving. Right next to the harbor, do not miss the café Toqqorfik which had just opened its doors at the time of our visit, it is a warm place furnished in the purest Nordic design and managed by the very friendly Annette - we will discuss it in more detail in the gastronomy section. The Nuuk art museum within walking distance of the city center has a large collection of paintings, watercolors, drawings and figures, it has works by Emmanuel A. Petersen and well worth a visit.
The suburb of Nuussuaq located between the city and the airport is also worth a stroll for its views of the urban/nature interface in South Greenland. The beautiful Malik indoor pool located in the vicinity offers lovely bay views through the cleverly designed glass walls, and hidden away in a residential complex you’ll find the Isikkivik Thai restaurant and cafe whose decor is well worth a few photographs while savoring an excellent Tom Yam Kung soup.
Ilulissat (meaning “Iceberg” in Inuit), the third largest city in Greenland with 4,500 inhabitants, is located in Disko Bay where the far North of Greenland begins. It’s easily the most touristic city in the country which, in our experience, translated to a few hundred visitors at most (compared to a few dozen at most in other locations). It’s an essential destination, particularly during a first visit to Greenland.
Between 3,500 and 4,000 years ago Ilulissat was settled by the Saqqaq and Dorset cultures. In the 17th century Dutch whalers arrived and established trade with the Inuit. Today Ilulissat's economy is mainly based on fishing, shrimp processing and tourism. Ilulissat is the ideal place to establish a base camp to visit the Disko Bay area. It boasts the most upscale accomodation (the Hotel Arctic) and some of the best food (the Restaurant Ulo at the Hotel Arctic, as well as the Mamartut and, for simple but good food the Café Iluliaq) that we encountered in Greenland (more on this in our gastronomy section.)
The city with its colorful houses is built along the bay, and every turn of the road which borders it offers captivating views of the incredible Icebergs drifting there. Some of these giants can reach up to 100 meters in height. Wherever you roam in the town you will always be gifted with extraordinary views under a magical light. Therefore be prepared to spend most of your time composing and photographing, and even having trouble resisting the urge to get up during the night (which are still very bright in August) to enjoy the show under a different light.
Ilulissat’s main claim to fame, and a very justified one indeed, is its Isefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Approximately 37 miles long and varying between 2 and 4 miles in width, it pours 20 billion tons of icebergs a year from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier into Disko bay. One of those is strongly suspected to have caused the Titanic’s demise. Be assured that experiencing it will be one of the most visually and emotionally intense times of your life. The accessible part is in the bay, starting approximately 4 miles offshore. There are of course tours, but if you can manage it we recommend renting a private boat. That will enable you to interact with the Skipper to customize your route, and the experience is much more intense than during group excursions.
This is what we did, working through the Disko line agency. We left Ilulissat early in the morning, accompanied by our Danish skipper Steffen and his Inuit assistant Guldager, and sailed toward Disko island. The instant we left the harbour, the magic set in. The glacier had calved a large amount of ice during the night, the foggy morning light silhouetted the bergs against yellow and green skies such as we’d never seen before, and we had extraordinary encounters with isolated giants floating in the bay’s open seas. Reaching Disko, we strolled in its main settlement, Qeqertarsuaq (meaning big island) a friendly small town of 850 inhabitants, before sailing back across the bay to the Isefjord. Words fail at describing the beauty we encountered there. These floating ice giants (iceberg litterally means “ice mountain” - and for good reason) are natural works of art that make the creations of the greatest human artists pale in comparison. Their myriad shapes are carved with such precision, offering so many facets, textures and colors that they deliver an extremely powerful esthetic and emotional experience. Their aspect changes dramatically depending on which side one views them from, so it’s wise to circumnavigate them. The ice itself comes under three broad categories:
- Blue ice is what one normally thinks of, offering many shades of white, blue and aqua
- Black ice, usually found in very small icebergs, is transparent
- Dirty ice is blue ice that carries traces of earth and rocks from contact either with the sides of the Isefjord or its bottom.
What’s more the same iceberg will look radically different depending on the light: Overcast days will provide the best viewing of subtle colors, while sunny days will dazzle you with sparkle. The angle of incoming light and the colors of the sky will also change your viewing experience. Since no two icebergs are alike to begin with, the variety is endless. To top it all, while in an open patch of water surrounded by large icebergs in the heart of the Isefjord, we were visited by three humpback whales who gifted us a private choreography, passing right under our boat. A moment of eternity such as one is rarely blessed with in a lifetime.
Let's also mention our walk in the small village of Oqaatsut (52 inhabitants), the late evening (10 PM) softly lit by an almost midnight sun, accompanied by four frolicking Greenlandic sled dog puppies, and with icebergs glowing pink and blue on the horizon. Oqaatsut (also known by its Danish name, Rodebay) is accessible by boat from Ilulissat or, for strong walkers, by foot. Accomodation is available at the hotel Nordlys.
Tasiilaq, which means "the place with a lake", is the largest town in East Greenland with a population of 2,000 inhabitants. Founded in 1894 by Gustav Holm, it’s reputed to be amng the most beautiful in Greenland, surrounded as it is by alpine-like mountains that rise over three thousand feet above sea level and descend steeply into the sea and the circular King Oscar fjord. The first film to be made about Greenland, Palo's Wedding by Knud Rasmussen, was shot in Tasiilaq.
The main activities in Tasilaq center on fishing, hunting and tourism. While an airport is scheduled to be built there in 2018, for now Tasiilaq is only accessible by helicopter or boat from Kulusuk (which features an airfield originally built by the U.S. Air Force). After landing in Kulusuk on an Air Greenland flight from Ilulissat, we were supposed to transfer to a helicopter to reach Tasiilaq. But in Greenland the weather is king. Our helicopter flight was canceled due to thick fog, and we ended up lugging our suitcases in the mud to clamber aboard an open boat for two hours of choppy sailing under the rain. That unique experience remains, believe it or not, a treasured memory. But we learned to always remember that, in Greenland, things often don’t go as planned. So it’s important to be well equipped, and we highly recommend backpacks rather than suitcases.
We stayed at the Red House hotel which offers simple but comfortable rooms. Founded by Robert Peroni, a pioneer in the sustainable development of tourism in the East, it’s a meeting place for those wanting to explore the area. The hotel's restaurant serves Greenlandic specialties with local products from hunting and fishing, that we will discuss in our gastronomy section. Other lodging options include the Hotel Angmagssalik, and camping or lodging with locals.
Tasiilaq, which like every town in Greenland is dotted with colorful houses, offers unique photographic perspectives due to the mountains and the fjord which surround it. The nearby valley of flowers and the Rasmussen Glacier also offer visual wonders. Even more important, because the East is among the more isolated regions of Greenland, it features a unique atmosphere due to the fact that the local Inuit still practice hunting and fishing in traditional ways. Something indescribable that is wild, free and unspoiled is palpably present here, and it provides the inspiration for myriad images. We took a boat trip to visit the abandoned villages of Qanerdorsuit, Pupik and Ikateq, and the traditional village of Tinitqilaaq (which can also be reached by helicopter if you prefer to pass on the other destinations) on the spectacular Sermilik fjord, a mind-boggling field of gorgeous icebergs. At the bend of a path in front of a hunter's house we saw the pelt of a polar bear hanging on the communal drier. While this might appear shocking, the Inuit who live in a traditional manner are legally entitled to a hunting quota, and far from being responsible for the progressive disappearance of species such as the polar bear, they are themselves affected by global warming in negative (scarcity of game and fish) as well as positive (milder climate) ways.
We were accompanied on our walk through Tinitqilaaq by a group of Inuit children. among whom was a memorably mischievous girl. A magical experience, not just from a photographic perpective but, even more so, simply on a human plane. We ended our day by navigating the Sermilik isefjord, another powerfully emotional occasion. We never get tired of the beauty of Icebergs, here they’re set against a background of alpine mountains creating visual vistas that are very different from those of the Ilulissat isefjord. The light is different, too. But the emotion and the magic are equally intense. Adding to it, we were again fortunate enough to come into close proximity to several humpback whales.
Kulusuk is truly an “at the ends of the earth” place; we instantly fell in love with it. For starters the landing there was spectacular, with the mountains bursting into view as the plane descended out of the low-hanging clouds -a sublimely surreal spectacle.
Kulusuk (meaning "the torso of a black guillemot")is an island. The local town, also called Kulusuk, has 270 inhabitants and was founded in 1909 by the crew of a Danish ship that ran aground there. The area is mountainous, the southernmost point is Cape Naujaangivit near Isikajia mountain, and the highest point is the Qalorujoorneq summit which towers over 2,000 feet above the airport.
Life in Kulusuk revolves around the activites of the airport, a bit of nature tourism, but mostly hunting and traditional fishing. The airport was built by the U.S. Air Force in 1956 during the Cold War and the establishment of the D.E.W line, including the DYE base at Kulusuk itself. The single road in Kulusuk leads from the airport to the town. Between the two there are a few houses for airport staff, some hangars on the edge of the fjord, old cars, fuel tanks, trucks and bulldozers dating from the U.S. presence that are extraordinarily photogenic and poetic, and of course the Hotel Kulusuk. It’s a place which awakens the desire to write a novel with its breathtaking views of the fjord, its polar bear skin and narwhal tusk at the reception desk, its bear-head motif carpeting and charming old-fashioned bar which feels like home base for the protagonists of some adventure novel. Therefore, for photographers, Kulusuk demands the creation of a photographic novel.
There are few places where you’ll feel as free and alive as on this road, with the hotel, the fjord and the mountains as a backdrop. In Kulusuk you can kiss under the northern Lights, eat an ice cream in front of the airport looking out at the fjord and mountains, and even meet a villain straight out of a James Bond movie. You can lay out the story of your own adventure with your photographs. The light is extraordinary at every hour of the day, and at night Northern Lights (not sky-wide, but still lovely) were visible at the end of August.
We wanted to go to Ikateq Island, site of the former Bluie East Two U.S air base, built during the Second World War and abandoned in 1941. As it’s roughly 3 hours by boat from Kulusuk we asked the Hotel to hire a skippered craft for us. That's how we met a tall muscular Inuit with Herculean strength, wearing a full body steel-gray and black suit, a serious-looking knife at his belt. His name was Lars Bianco (you can’t make that up!) and he had the physique and overall “look” of a James Bond villain. Predictably he turned out to be an excellent sailor with an easy manner and a braod smile.
The island of Ikateq, not to be confused with the abandoned village of the same name, is a must-see for photographers. First majestic barren peaks come into view from the fjord. Then the old dock appears. When you disembark you begin a trip back in time and/or to another planet. You’re at one of the sites Greenlanders call "American flowers", former bases containing toxic waste such as cases of dynamite, rusting barrels by the tens of thousands containing high lead-octane, rusted trucks, and remains of building that were in use during the Second World War. Setting aside the very real ecological disaster taking place there, the whole site looks like an open-air art gallery. The topography is quasi-lunar, as if erosion did not operate here. The ruins of the terminal look like a Louise Bourgeois sculpture. The mountains are grey, the base’s remains are uniformly rust-colored and, on our visit, the sky was a brilliant cobalt blue producing a surreal scene in only three colors. The photographic possibilities are truly endless, and what’s even more important the experience of roaming this astonishing place is beyond description. As if that weren’t enough, we had the great luck of witness an iceberg shedding a portion of its mass, and flipping over as a result of the change in its center of gravity. Unforgettable.
Our advice, in conclusion: Absolutely don’t miss Kulusuk.
Greenland obviously isn’t wine country, but it does produce beer from four breweries. All the ones we tasted were very good. QajaQ brewery in Narsaq makes several varieties which are well distributed throughout Greenland. Also of note : Godthaab Bryghus in Nuuk, whose offerings include an Icecap Beer made with ice-melt water. For food, here’s what we can recommend:
-Located next to the Nuuk National Museum on the old harbor, the tiny Cafe Toqqorfik with its nordic design and warm atmosphere is run by the friendly Annette. It offers a delicious platter of Greenlandic “tapas”, along with excellent pastries (we highly recommend the superb "Caramel Heaven"). It’s a good place for breakfast, lunch or a beverage. The Greenland tea made from local berries is delicious, everything is home made to the highest standards, we loved it.
The cafe at the Katuak Cultural Center is also an excellent address. The seafood platter is outstanding, and so copious it will feed two people or more. They also serve an excellent beer called Katuak Brew.
Gourmet cuisine is available at the Sarfalik, the top-floor restaurant of the best hotel in town – the Hans Egede. The menu features local fish, musk ox and caribou (both meats are very tender) and whale – which we prefer to see swimming rather than in our plate, even though the Inuit are entitled (as is the case for polar bear) to a quota which does not endanger the species.
Also, if you’re a contrarian, you’ll find an excellent Thai Tom-Yum-Kung at restaurant Issikivik in Nuussuaq.
Mamartut restaurant is the best address in town, everything is homemade and the chef deserves his reputation. Local ingredients of course : Cod, shrimp, salmon, musk ox, caribou, whale or seal. Best to order the “tapas” plate first to taste everything in small quantities, that particular preparation of seal was not to our taste. Don’t miss the homemade crowberry liqueur.
Also highly recommended the Ulo Restaurant at the Arctic Hotel, and the restaurant at the Hotel Icefiord. Neither has the warmth of the local décor at Mamartut, but both feature spectacular views over the icefjord. Make sure to find out when they offer their Greenlandic buffet, and reserve well in advance.
Greenland has very few roads, and they’re only either inside the towns or between those towns and their airports. Since it’s a a BIG place distances are considerable, and they must be traveled by plane, helicopter, or boat. This entails a high cost of transportation, in addition to the already high local prices for accommodation, food, etc. If your budget does not allow you to travel extensively in Greenland, the two best options for a unique and memorable visual experience are Ilulissat in the West, and Kulusuk and Tasilaq in the East. Both regions have spectacular Isefjords (you’ll have to go to Tinitqilaaq in the East). Ourselves, we developed a particular fondness fo the East, which is much wilder and less visited.
Don’t plan your itinerary too tightly, in Greenland Nature makes the decisions and you may have to revise your schedule significantly due to transportation cancellations. Relax, and be patient.
Be in good physical shape before you leave, and of course pack warm clothes, The best formula is to dress in layers, so you can add or remove them if (or rather when !) the temperature changes. In the summer these variations can be very significant depending on the région, but also depending on whether you are on land or on water (boat). For a first visit, going during the summer months is easier and therefore recommended. If you decide to go in winter, consider renting sealskin or bearskin clothes for all trips by boat or dog sled.
Due to lack of time we didn’t explore the Northwest and the Northeast. However, having decidely fallen in love with Greenland, we plan to return to visit those two régions, and to revisit Kulusuk.