Greenland – WOW!
A couple of years ago my cousin, Lisa, moved to Greenland (for her dream job of photographing and writing for Greenland’s visitor website). Of course I immediately wanted to visit and when the country unexpectedly opened up from Covid closure during my travels, I booked my tickets – and I am so glad I did!
Germany cousins in Greenland
– a long way from Inverell!
To put it simply Greenland is absolutely spectacular. A country within the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland is one third the size of the continental US with a total population of 56,000. Everybody lives at the edges of the country because the interior is completely covered in the largest ice sheet outside of Antarctica. It is actually quite ironic that it is called Greenland as 80% of it is covered in ice. There are only 150km of roads in the whole country, so most travel is done by air and boat and there are more boats than cars in the entire country. (Note – Iceland is a much smaller, more southern, greener country that is NOT covered in ice).
I started my visit in the beautiful town of Ilulissat, north of the Arctic Circle. Here a gigantic glacier calves massive icebergs into an Ice Fjord and, after about 18 months of travelling the 55km fjord, the icebergs hang out for months in the sea just outside the town, ensuring breathtaking views right from your doorstep. The icebergs can be as big as 100m high and wide. There are a myriad of ways to enjoy this incredible natural phenomenon and I tried just about all of them. Sunset boatcruises up close to icebergs, scenic small plane flights over glaciers, icebergs and the icesheet, a glorious all day long boat trip breaking through ice to visit the calving Eqi Glacier, multiple hiking trails where every turn brings yet another jaw-dropping view. I literally can’t use enough superlatives to describe how beautiful it was. Of course, the photos don’t do it justice but check them out anyway – it is impossible for me to describe.
After five days here, it was on to the capital Nuuk to reunite with Lisa. Nuuk has a population of about 18,000 and a beautiful harbour setting against a backdrop of mountains. We spent our time doing some mini hikes, wandering the city (Lisa is a great tour guide!) and hosting social nights with Lisa’s friends. One of these was pizza night which included reindeer pizza – freshly hunted. Whale and seal and muskox are also common food and we also had whale jerky at the local market. It is very fishy and Lisa often uses it as a substitute for anchovies. Hunting is still very much part of the Inuit culture. And for the record – Greenland has amazing food. The restaurants were fantastic – including Asian!
Another highlight was a boat tour to an abandoned settlement – in the 60’s the Danish government forcibly moved inhabitants from small settlements into the bigger cities as they are very expensive to maintain. A bonus was the whale and seal pod spotting on the way back. The other boat tour we did was to see the Northern Lights. At this time of year so far north the Lights are very common, and you can actually see them from right in Nuuk, which we did on other nights. It’s an incredibly special experience to sit watching the dancing green (and occasionally pink) lights in awe at the wonder of nature.
One of the main reasons for the timing of my trip was that Lisa, an excellent photographer, had organized a photo exhibition featuring herself and nine other Nuuk based photographers entitled “In My Backyard” where all the photos were taken from within 300m of the photographer’s house. The opening event was a huge success and it was very special for me to be able to be there.
Of course, you can’t be in Greenland and not notice climate change and the receding glaciers were obvious. I was also fascinated to learn that scientists can track climate change from drilling the ice core as the ice “records” the climatic conditions at the time it was created. During the Roman Empire period, the ice has shown high levels of lead and silver – the first clear signs of human pollution – and the level of greenhouse gases recorded in the ice in modern times is significantly higher than usual.
In short, if you get an opportunity to visit Greenland, go!!! I will certainly be back – especially for more hiking and kayaking. It is one of the most spectacular countries on earth with a fascinating traditional Inuit culture. Lisa – thanks for a magical trip!
Click on any picture to open the photo gallery.