Explorers and poets have long romanticized Qaanaaq as truly the top of the world. Ancient philosophers called it Ultima Thule, or the edge of known territory. Greenlanders called the area Avanersuaq, the great north. Qaanaaq is the extreme north of Greenland, but it is absolutely within reach. For the true explorer – the one that always looks to take a step further and experience what lies beyond – in Greenland your traveling spirit dreams of Qaanaaq.
You don’t have to be an extreme outdoorsman to enjoy Qaanaaq these days, but you do need a certain mentality of openness. Shed your tourist persona somewhere around Ilulissat and head north to a town where the local way is the only way. Here, organically evolving conversations that turn into sailing or dog sledding trips with a local fisherman replace a booklet full of scheduled tours. And fixed regimens give way to a series of days where each afternoon holds a new experience – sometimes a surprise but always an extraordinary adventure.
"My first time in Greenland I stayed with a family in Qaanaaq. It was one of the best times in my life, and since then I have returned twice because I love it so much!"
- Qaanaaq is the northernmost town in Greenland, just 30 km from Canada.
- Qaanaaq has approximately 650 residents, plus those in 4 surrounding villages.
- There is 24-hour sunlight in Qaanaaq between late April and late August.
- Qaanaaq is not originally a Greenlandic town. Qaanaaq was established in 1953 when Americans relocated Greenlanders from Pituffik village (and others) in order to build Thule Air Base in Pituffik’s place.
A LAND FOR PIONEERING PEOPLE
Qaanaaq is a magnet for pioneering people. Just as your inquisitive character leads you to Qaanaaq today, so too did the curious natures of ancient Inuit for more than 4500 years.
Greenlanders in Qaanaaq are crucial to the Inuit identity as powerful and pioneering people, and they are often considered proud to be the real people behind the classic associations like making handicrafts and hunting by kayak or dog sled.
Perhaps your most significant experience in Qaanaaq will be the human connection with Greenlanders, and everyday life and culture in the far north of Greenland has its own distinct rhythm deeply connected to the contrasting seasons of the Polar night and the Midnight Sun.
EXPLORE NATURE IN QAANAAQ
Dog sledding is the ultimate activity in Qaanaaq. At these high latitudes, the dog sledding season is the longest in Greenland because while the sun is here to stay come springtime, the cold temperatures and sea ice persist long into the light period.
Accompany a local on an ice fishing trip and experience the heartbeat of the Arctic, otherwise known as Greenlandic dog paws pounding on the frozen sea. Or joy-ride the Qaanaaq way and head toward the distinctive southern mountains whose triangular shapes you will daydream about for months to come.
During the crisp summer season hike into the hills behind Qaanaaq to get an eagle’s eye view out to Baffin Bay. And if you get the chance, sail along the Qaanaaq coastline through waters spotted with towering icebergs to surrounding villages, one of which lies even further north than Qaanaaq, if you can believe it.
At the end of your trip to the great north, leave with the insight that Qaanaaq is, ironically, far from uncharted territory but rather is a town of remarkably approachable Inuit culture at the top of the world.
"In Qaanaaq, you are not out on the tundra or in the cold! But culture goes with nature and there is no closer marriage than that. This is a place to just live and see what evolves organically. Nature decides - not the watch and not the wallet."