EMERALD IN THE ICE
Qeqertarsuaq is an exceptional place in the truest sense of the word. Everything about it is the first, the largest, or the only. Qeqertarsuaq stands alone on the great Disko Island far off Greenland’s west coast, and the Lyngmark Glacier that towers above the town is the only place in Greenland to go dog sledding in summer. The natural environment around Qeqertarsuaq is so fertile with angelica and diverse species that it is literally like no other place in North Greenland.
Greenlandic legend says that Qeqertarsuaq stands so verdantly in the Disko Bay otherwise packed with icebergs because it comes all the way from South Greenland. Two hunters in search of seals freed the island from its southern position and pulled it north with nothing but their kayaks and a single baby’s hair. As it entered Disko Bay, a witch in Ilulissat spied the lush green island heading north and cast a spell on it to run aground. So here stands Qeqertarsuaq today.
Qeqertarsuaq is an exceptional place in the truest sense of the word. Everything about it is the first, the largest, or the only.
Qeqertarsuaq is the only town on Disko Island, 100 km west of Ilulissat. It means “the big island”.
Qeqertarsuaq was founded in 1773 and has approximately 860 residents plus another 35 in Kangerluk, the island’s only village.
- Qeqertarsuaq houses the Arctic Station, the oldest continuously manned station in the Arctic.
DOG SLEDDING IN SUMMER
Dog sledding in summer may sound like a misnomer, but thanks to the Lyngmark Glacier that rises many hundreds of meters above the coast, Qeqertarsuaq is the only town in Greenland where dog sledding is possible all year long. What a contrast to sit bundled on a dog sled feeling the midnight sun beat directly overhead while spotting humpbacks and other summer whales like tiny specks in Disko Bay below.
Enjoying this wintertime favorite in summer is not without its dues. Without snowy mountainsides to allow for snowmobiling up to Lyngmark Glacier, one must first put in hard work to reap his great dog sledding adventure. Whether you lead yourself or opt for a hiking guide, you must rely on your own two feet and a string of blue-painted cairns to reach your starting point. Plan ahead to stay overnight up at the glacier hut and make the entire day’s experience well worth the walk.
Qeqertarsuaq is ideal for whale watchers and hikers, among other nature loving travelers. Sailing and whale watching starts in spring when bowhead whales are still in Disko Bay before heading west. Their seasonal exodus makes room for humpback whales to frolic in the Qeqertarsuaq summer waters spotted with icebergs that drift over from Ilulissat.
By midsummer, the angelica overwhelms Qeqertarsuaq and beckons you to follow the island’s many hiking trails. Gather leaves for an aromatic tea made with the cleanest water straight from the waterfall outside of town. Drinking local angelica tea while admiring the lifelike shapes of volcanic rocks is an experience one can only have in Qeqertarsuaq.
And if you fancy adding a bit of Greenlandic history to an otherwise total nature experience, Qeqertarsuaq Museum holds many stories of when Qeqertarsuaq was the capital of the north. Complete the cultural discovery by visiting Kangerluk inside Disko Fjord to get a taste of what small village life is like on Greenland’s largest island.
Disko Island has many natural features including a deep fjord for kayaking, mountains up to 1919 meters, hot springs, and columnar basalt rocks that evidence a volcanic history. Wintertime favorites include ice fishing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling.
Accommodations in Qeqertarsuaq include Hotel Disko, Lyngmark Hotel, Fox Hostel, and private home rentals. You are also welcome to camp in the hillside.
Qeqertarsuaq has 1 restaurant called Restaurant Nilak, open in summer.
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