The dogsled continues to play an important role as means of transportation for hunters out hunting. Hunters also like to take tourists on the trip. You can choose between day trips and week-long sled trips, sleeping in cabins. On Lyngmarks Glacier on Disko Island, as the only place in Greenland, you can dog sled in the summer - even in the midnight sun. The dogsled in West and North Greenland is different from that in the East. Here the dogs are harnessed to the sled in a broad line, adapted to driving on sea ice and hard snow.
In Greenland, the past is never very far away, and in every town you will discover examples of the country's strong culture. The farther north you go, the more visible it is. You discover Inuit culture in museums, the cultural centre in Ilulissat, at art exhibitions, in handicrafts, in music and theatre, often mediated through new expressions and new forms. Basically, nature was all-pervading and equipped with a special life force, an internal energy.
Greenland's hospitality is well known, and if you wish to visit a Greenlandic home, you can come to "kaffemik" in many North Greenlandic towns and villages. You can also enjoy close contact on a boat trip. Tourist boats are not very big, and the skipper is often willing to talk and answer questions, if there is no guide on board. Several towns also offer private accommodation, and it provides a good opportunity to see what a Greenlandic home looks like.
Everywhere in Greenland you can see glaciers, and you can even get very close to some. Some of the fastest are found in North Greenland - Great Qarajaq in Uummannaq and the galloping glaciers on Disko Island, which in just four years have moved 10 km down into the valley. However, the best known of them all is the glacier Sermeq Kujalleq in Ilullissat Ice Fiord. Every day, huge icebergs break off and drift through the narrow fjord, out to Disko Bay, with a rate of nearly 20 metres per day.
During the summer, the sun is in the sky 24 hours a day, and the farther north, the longer the light period lasts. In Qaanaaq in the far north, there is midnight sun from 25.4 to 18.8.
In Upernavik, there is midnight sun from 9.5 to 5.8, while the period in Uummannaq goes from 17.5 to 28.7. Farther south, in Qeqertarsuaq, Ilulissat, Qasigiannguit and Aasiaat, the midnight sun is from 27.5 to 18.7.
In Greenland, you don't need to hike far before you are in unique scenery. Good hiking trails with exciting day routes exist in most towns in North Greenland. For example, you can hike from Ilulissat to the settlement of Oqaatsut/Rodebay, located at a distance that will take about 7-8 hours. You can even book accommodation in a cabin, so you will be ready the next day for the trip back. You can also choose guided trips, where the trip is enriched with local expertise on animal and plant life, geology and glaciology.
When Arctic Palerfik takes place, it's a sign that winter's drawing to a close. Join the year's last dogsled trip into Ilulissat's beautiful white hinterland. In the summer there's orienteering on the programme. Arctic Midnight Orienteering is both an Arctic championship and the unofficial Greenlandic championship. The event takes place close to the UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord.
To be in a sea kayak on calm waters with warm water temperatures, is completely different to being in icy waters, where bumping into even small "ice cubes" can have dramatic consequences. The trips most often take place in protected areas with experienced tour leaders. In North Greenland there are opportunities for kayaking in most towns.
Arctic Midnight Orienteering is both an Arctic championship and the unofficial Greenlandic championship. The event takes place close to the UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icefjord.
It can be hard to imagine how the Inuit have lived and survived in the Arctic? Find some of the answers in the local museums. Associated with the museums, there are also the special turf houses that housed Greenlanders right up to the mid-50s. In Ilulissat, you can also visit an art museum with paintings by the famous naturalist Greenlandic painter Emanuel A. Petersen. The North Greenland churches are also worth a visit.
Go on a tour of Ilulissat. Preferably with a guide who can tell you all the good local stories. On the tour you will learn about the history of the town, the culture and about modern life 300 km north of the Arctic Circle. You will pass fishermen at the harbour and experience the atmosphere at "brættet" (the fish market). The tour continues on through the old colonial quarter, past Knud Rasmussen's birthplace and Zion's Church, the old wooden church.
In the gourmet kitchen at Restaurant Ulo, the country's top chefs conjure up masterpieces from the finest ingredients. And Hotel Hvide Falk and Hotel Icefjord are also noble contenders in the running to produce food in class of its own, with a wonderful view as a side dish. An incredible culinary experience can also be had at Restaurant H8 at Rodebay, which can be reached by ship from Ilulissat.
In the towns of North Greenland you will find small, bustling shops and crafts workshops. Drop by and learn about the traditions. Almost all of nature's materials are part of the Greenlandic handicraft tradition. Greenlandic souvenirs are not mass produced. They are handmade arts and crafts that are shaped and designed by artists - marked by traditions and customs, but each manages to make their own impression.
Imagine yourself on the Icefjord - densely packed with ice. The pressure from the glacier is enormous, and it's difficult to see where the glacier ends and the fjord begins. Whatever else, you can see the colossal mass of ice moving out of the fjord with the naked eye! The best view of this magnificent sight is from a helicopter. Approximately 50 km east of Ilulissat the helicopter lands on the ice and you can get out. As mentioned earlier, it's an absolutely fascinating sight.
In a country where no towns are linked by roads, sailing has a unique role to play. It is just a natural part of everyday life, as cars are for others. Virtually from all towns and settlements in North Greenland, you can go on boat trips to places you otherwise would never come. Close to the bird cliffs, whales and icebergs. Enjoy lunch on board or a picnic in the mountains, while the skipper tells about the area, wildlife, cultural memories and good local stories.
When the Northern Lights billow in the sky, it gives the experience in a dogsled an extra dimension. There is nothing to do, but just sit back in the warm reindeer skins and enjoy the crunching of the snow, while the colours unfold upon the dark sky. During winter, the Northern Lights are a frequent guest in the sky. Ancient legend tells that the beautiful celestial phenomenon is due to the souls of the dead playing with a walrus skull. However, there are more objective and scientific explanations.
Icebergs up to a height of 100 metres tower white and proud above the surface of the sea. This sight is not uncommon in North Greenland, where icebergs are gigantic and their shapes are dramatic. The large icebergs all originate from glaciers at the edge of the ice sheet, deep in the fjords, where the calving glaciers make their way towards the Atlantic Ocean on their long journey southwest. Icebergs make sounds, they creak and boom when they rotate and break.
The ice is all-pervading. As icebergs and ice floes in the sea, as a spectacular surface during a hike or helicopter trip, or during a boat trip in the fjords, where in the form of giant glaciers the ice is pushed out towards the coast by gravity from the ice cap. In North Greenland some of the world's fastest glaciers are to be found, and it is also here you find the giant icebergs that sail out through the Ilulissat Ice Fjord. Not without reason, the fjord is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In summer, it is almost impossible to leave North Greenland without at least once experiencing the giant sea creatures - minke whales, humpback whales, fin whales or killer whales. The area has a long and proud whaling tradition, which is conveyed by guides and in museums. From the middle of July and into the autumn, whale watching is an obvious activity. Aasiaat is the whales' town and the beautiful archipelago area that surrounds the town, has traditionally been known for its large whale population.
You often come across animals in the wild. At sea, on land and in the air. Seals swim all the way along the Greenlandic coastline and 20 different species of whale live in the waters around it. There are lots of whales in Ilulissat. If you are lucky, you might also spot arctic foxes and arctic hares. The raven is perhaps the bird you will see most frequently out of the 50 different species in Greenland, while the majestic sea eagle is a rarer sight.
Many of the major international cruise ships call at Uummannaq and Ilulissat. And to take the seaway is also a fantastic way to experience a large part of the giant country in a relatively short time. Enjoy the scenery from a cruise ship and find your spirit during the voyage in the Arctic. From the deck of the ship, you will discover whales, icebergs and the gangway to small towns and settlements.
The seaway is Greenland's highway and sailing is a great way to explore towns, settlements, icebergs, whales, steep mountain sides and waterfalls cascading from glaciers. In North Greenland, Disko Line runs the local service between towns in Disko Bay, while Arctic Umiaq Line runs the passenger traffic between towns and settlements along the coast from Ilulissat in the north, to Qaqortoq in the south.
Uummannaq's characteristic mountain on the Nuussuaq peninsula is a delight for climbers. Generally, June, July and August are good months to climb in. There's plenty of daylight - around the clock, in fact - and it is possible to reach most places by boat. It is crucial to have ice axes and glacier equipment, and in general, you must always think in terms of optimal equipment. The local tourist office has the best information on exactly the area you are interested in.
A special winter experience is a ride on a dogsled out to the fishing holes on the frozen fjords of North Greenland. Many local fishermen still have their daily workplace here. In Uummannaq it is only a few kilometres drive to the first fishing holes in the fjord. In Ilulissat the traditional ice fishing has diminished in recent years, as the fjord is often ice-free in winter. Remember to bring a good lunch box and hot coffee. The temperature can easily sneak under minus 20 degrees.
Arctic Char can be caught everywhere in North Greenland. They are typically caught in river estuaries or at the point between the lake and river. As a rule of thumb, char are found where the concentration of food is highest, and the water is deep enough to cover their dorsal fins, where there is a current, and where the water is relatively still. Contact the tourist offices, who can advise and tell about good fishing spots.
North Greenland is not an immediately obvious ski destination, but there is plenty of opportunity to ski in the winter. There are very few actual cross-country ski runs and prepared trails. On the other hand, there is plenty of snow, beautiful scenery and vast expanses. For particularly adventurous alpinists - with their wallets in order - there is an exclusive heliskiing experience, among other things, offered in Uummannaq.
Many of the North Greenlandic towns are ideal for trips on snowmobiles. Take a trip in Qeqertarsuaq. The terrain is varied and you drive across both lakes and land. As you reach the edge of the ice, you might be lucky enough to see a whale, because this is an important meeting point for whales.
Stop by at Vorherres Blækhus - the peculiar eight-sided church - and get your warmth back.
North Greenland's countryside creates a unique setting for many of the events that take place every year. In Ilulissat, the country's visitors can participate in the traditional dogsled race Arctic Palerfik, which is the dogsled drivers' farewell to winter. Later in the year there is Arctic Midnight Orienteering in the midnight sun and high sky, and each year the Aasiaat Mountains are the back drop for the Aasiaat Midnight Sun Marathon. One option is to also consider attending local and national championships for dogsled racing and kayak.
The water is cold - between zero and four degrees, but the experience is enormous. Arctic Dive Travel, based in Sisimiut, offers dive trips lasting several days - also in Disko Bay. For example, try a dive at the grounded icebergs in the midnight sun. Do not be surprised if you encounter catfish, lumpfish, forests of kelp and bizarre sea cucumbers. Diving is one of Greenland's more recent and rare opportunities for activities that require a high degree of professional equipment and a high level of safety.