ISOLATED, YET ACCESSIBLE
If, for a moment, you are able to tear your gaze away from the mountain tops, the icebergs and all the great opportunities for adventure, you will discover that you are standing in Tasiilaq and looking out over King Oscar’s Harbour in East Greenland.
Around you is a town, which in spite of its only 2,000 inhabitants, is the gateway to a plethora of summer adventures on foot, in kayak, by boat or in the air, and then there are the winter adventures like dog sledding, skiing, heliskiing and snowmobiling.
East Greenland, and specifically Tasiilaq, is viewed as the ”front side” of Greenland or the “face towards the world” by many visitors. The region has nearly 50 years of experience with tourism and the regular flight connections to Reykjavik via the airport in Kulusuk ensure Tasiilaq’s accessibility to the outside world.
The gateway to a plethora of summer adventures on foot, in kayak, by boat or in the air, and then there are the winter adventures like dog sledding, skiing, heliskiing and snowmobiling.
“I really enjoyed staying in the small villages around Tasiilaq before we left to the glacier. We were just taking part in the daily life – seeing the village exactly how it is.”
ADVENTURES IN TASIILAQ
Everything seems a little bigger in Tasiilaq. The mountains, the distances, the adventures, the challenges loom and beckon both summer and winter.
The hiking, climbing expeditions, kayak adventures, whale watching, visiting settlements, boat tours to the icefjord called Sermilik in summer, as well as the cultural events in the town itself, all mix with a layer of local culture, that gets its energy from the numbers of people from the settlements, who come into town throughout the summer. They visit family and friends, participate in the very popular coastal soccer championship and fill the streets with life and activity.
In winter, experiences range from urban introductions to dog sledding to snowmobiling trips to the nearby settlement called Tiniteqilaaq. Also within the realm of possibility is downhill skiing with snowmobile support, multi-day trips by dog sled, the opportunity to get one’s own dog sled license, week-long heliskiing adventures in remote mountain areas, and the ultimate challenge of crossing the Ice Cap from the settlement of Isortoq in East Greenland to Kangerlussuaq in West Greenland.
MANY ROADS IN A COUNTRY WITH NO HIGH WAYS
We often hear people describe Greenland as a country without roads, and it is true that we don’t have any roads in the traditional sense between cities or along the coastline. Whoever claimed that gravel and asphalt has a monopoly on the definition of “road”?
East Greenland is a clear example of how the local population combines everyday experiences with traditional knowledge of the land and modern day GPS equipment to navigate waterways, dog sled routes, hiking paths and snowmobiling trails.
The many hiking tours in the Tasiilaq area that last for several days, often get transport support from passenger boats, when crossing straits or particular impassable parts of the coast line. The easiest way to travel between local communities is by boat. The roads of winter are often trails across frozen fjords, and mountain climbers will go by boat to distant areas before they find a way to climb the alpine mountain tops.
- Tasiilaq means “the place with a lake” (because of the shape of the fjord).
- It is the largest town on the east coast with a population of about 2,017 (2013) and is one of the fastest-growing towns in Greenland.
- Tasiilaq, or the island where Tasiilaq is located, was formerly known as Ammassalik or Angmagssalik, Greenlandic for “the place with capelin”.
- Tasiilaq is located approximately 106 km (65.9 mi) south of the Arctic Circle.
- One day's hike from the town is the Sermilik Station (a glacier research base).
- Palo´s Wedding, the first Greenlandic movie, was shot in Tasiilaq. So was the music video ‘Infinitely You’ by Simon Lynge.
- There are two or three supply ships to Tasiilaq per year. The first one comes in the beginning of July, the last departs mid-October.
- People go out to sea on their own boats to scout for the supply ship and when spotted, three cannon shots are fired to welcome the ship with the new supply of food. Some of the locals go down to the harbor to greet the ship. First things out of the ship are fruits and veggies, then the candies!
ARTS AND CRAFTS AND STREET LIFE
Artistic life in East Greenland is characterized by a continuation of craft traditions used in earlier times to decorate weapons used for hunting, household tools or masks.
Current arts and crafts draw on a wide range of regional creative expressions, and the East Greenlandic tupilak figurines are especially known for their quality in design and form, not only in Greenland, but internationally as well.
At the same time Tasiilaq draws the youth of the area as a magnet, in spite of the town’s modest size, and the youth use the town as a platform for music, adventure sports, photography and other typically modern ways of expression.