Greenland Travel Guide

Greenland is
unlike anywhere else – the world’s largest island, with a population
that revolves entirely around it’s harsh, unusual, frozen
environment.  Greenland currently faces serious issues as it’s ice
sheets are melting

rapidly due to rises in climate temperatures.  Greenland is an expensive
country.

Greenland has modernized quickly, and amongst the
traditional clothes you’ll find modern t-shirts and mobile phones.  The
unusual environment has brought about unusual food, such as whale, preserved
seal and putrid fish.  Tourism is fairly basic in Greenland, and most
people have few interactions with the local people, but the a
tourist project is making steps to make this easier.

Sights and Activities

  • Aurora borealis
    – The norther lights appear year round, but are best viewed against the dark
    skies of autumn and winter.

  • Midnight sun
    Greenlandic National Day is June 21, the longest day and festival time.

  • Boat trips
    into the icy fjords, popular in summer.

  • Winter dogsled safaris – take a spin through the frozen wilderness
  • Helicopter glacier tours
  • Trekking – Greenland offers good
    trekking in the summer months.  You don’t need a guide (luckily, as there are few in Greenland) for the
    easier trails.  In summer the local fauna is outstanding. 

Current Issues

  • Climate change seriously threatens Greenland. 
    Since 2004 the rate of ice loss has tripled.  A global temperature rise of
    2 degrees Celsius would be enough to melt the Greenland ice sheet completely,
    raising sea levels by 7m.  The Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change
    (IPCC) agrees, predicting global temperatures will increase by 4 degrees
    Celsius by the end of the century.  In East Greenland locals report that
    ice from the Helhrim glacier, just south of Tasiilaq, is retreating at a rate
    of 10-15 cm per day.  The warmer waters flood the fjords and the seals
    retreat to colder waters, which cause the fish to Flourish. But, Greenlanders
    eat seal – they believe fish is a poor substitute.

Facts

  • Greenland has more than a dozen words for ice.
  • During summer the sun doesn’t set, during winter
    the sun doesn’t rise.

  • Greenland has 4 primary languages – East Greenlandic,
    West Greenlandic, Danish and English.

  • Most of Greenland lies within the Arctic circle,
    and is cut off from the rest of the world for 8 months of the year as the
    fjords freeze over with thick pack-ice.

  • Denmark subsidizes Greenland with US$274 million each
    year.

Vital
statistics

Capital Nuuk (Godthab)
Population 57,000
Language Greenlandic, Danish
Visas Not required by EU citizens
Money Danish Krone (Dkr), about 22Dkr to the US$.  ATMs accept foreign
cards.  Travelers chques are not widely
accepted.

When to
go

Greenland’s climate is sub-Artic.  Summer is
surprisingly mild, averaging 17 degrees Celsius.  But by January
temperatures have plummeted to -40 degrees Celsius.  Peak tourist season is
mid-May to mid-September.  Be prepares for changing conditions.  Pack waterproof clothes and
sunscreen. 

Getting
there

Getting
around

Transfers between major towns are mainly by
helicopter.  The 10 minute ride from Kulusuk to Tasiilaq costs 631Dkr
(US$120) one way.  In summer boat transfers are also possible, while in
winter, skidoos and dogsleds are the mainstay of local transport. 
Everything is weather dependant, so be prepared for long delays and
cancellations.

Costs

Costs are high in Greenland, even by Scandinavian
standards. 

  • Restaurant mains – 160Dkr (US$30).
  • A mid range double room – 800Dkr (US$150). 
  • A bottle of water – 14Dkr (US$2.60)
  • Can of beer 35Dkr (US$6.40)
  • Cup of coffee 15Dkr
    (US$2.80)

Accommodation

Hotels are generally good.  More and more B&Bs
are appearing, while seamen’s homes are cheap-and-cheerful
options.

Food and
drink

Most hotels offer full board, which gives little choice
to sample local foods.  Hotels offer lots of fish and Danish specialities – vegetarians may
struggle.

Health and
safety

No vaccinations are required, but beware of mosquitoes in summer, bring
repellant.

Useful
websites

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