Although there are cars and snowmobiles here, dogsleds dominate the winter landscape and still play an important role as transportation for fishermen and hunters. The dogsled has been adapted to the conditions in East Greenland; it is often shorter than in West Greenland and the dogs are harnessed like horses in two parallel rows, which is better suited to driving in deep snow. If you want to try your hand at driving and the dogs, you can take a Dog Sled Driving Licence, if you have otherwise passed the sled test.
Greenland's hospitality is well known. 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. On a dog sled ride, you experience the close contact between the driver and his sled dogs. In East Greenland, you even have a chance to learn how to be a dog sled driver and get your dog sled license at the end. Also try private accommodation.
In East Greenland it is not uncommon to see polar bears on their spring migration. Otherwise you can see seals, whales, reindeer and a host of seabirds. Millions of auks are based in Illoortoormiit, which is also known as Greenland's larder. Here the hunters also go polar bear hunting. Musk oxen, collared lemming, ermine, and wolves are only found naturally in East Greenland; emigrated from Ellesmere Island.
Sea fishing is a popular activity. Go fishing in the area near Tasiilaq. Many big glaciers calve in the area, among others, the Sermilik fjord. Off the glaciers and the outlet from the ice sheet, there are also often good opportunities to catch cod. Or find one of the good fishing spots in the archipelago at Kulusuk. The fish are often in shoals, so once you have found a redfish site, you can usually catch many.
There are plenty of good hiking trails on Ammassalik Island - both shorter and longer duration. Combine hiking with settlement visits, where daily life is very different from town life. Here hunting and fishing are still the main sources of income, as it has been for centuries. In Ittoqqortoormiit, a hike is in the world's largest National Park is also a possibility. Good hiking boots, a hiking map, warm clothing and food are a must - your thirst can be quenched with spring water en route.
In East Greenland, it is not many years ago that little flimsy craft were the hunters' only means of transportation at sea - both in Tasiilaq and Ittoqqortoormiit 800 km further north. At both places you can rent kayaks. Once, the kayak skeleton was built from driftwood, today they are built from glass fibre or plastic, which is far more seaworthy in relation to the Greenlandic kayak. It's pretty amazing to think that hunters have the skill to catch whales from kayaks.
In East Greenland, you are closer to the original Inuit culture than many other places in the west, and in towns and settlements you will discover examples of the country's strong culture. Here, many hunters still go out sealing on dogsled and camouflaged sails, and some even hunt from kayaks. Here, life in many ways is lived like the old days and the old legends and myths are still a source of inspiration for many young artists, musicians and theatre groups, writers and masks.
It can be hard to imagine how the Inuit have lived and survived for generations in the Arctic? Both in Tasiilaq and Ittoqqortoormiit, there are two museums that tell about the area, legends and myths, ancestral scheme of things and everyday life. The turf house outside the museum was home to four families with up to 25 people. It was used as a winter house when the families moved from their skin tents in the summer hunting grounds.
Go on a town tour with a guide, who knows all the good local history of Tasiilaq. Here, the traditional Inuit culture still plays a vital role in daily life. Visit Ammassalik Museum or take a trip to the stunning scenery of one of the world's most isolated and deserted areas. If you choose Ittoqqortoormiit, located more than 800 km north, there are town tours, boat trips and guided excursions to Walrus Bay and the hot springs.
As in North Greenland, icebergs are enormous in the east. Here there are many calving glaciers, and on a boat trip you get a convincing demonstration of the size of icebergs. Fascinating to look at and tempting to get close to. However, have deep respect for the forces that an iceberg can unleash. Even when a small iceberg is rotating, it puts enormous forces into play. In winter when the fjord freezes, they are caught on their travels until the summer heat thaws the fjords and thick ice amour.
The ice is all-pervading in East Greenland. 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. The ice characterises the whole area most of the year and stretches all the way to the Denmark Strait. It is from Tasiilaq that many choose to cross the ice and walk the long way to Kangerlussuaq in the west.
From mid July to late September, there are good opportunities to see whales in the sea and fjords throughout the Ammassalik area and further north. Whales are possibly some of the world's oldest and largest animals, and to discover them in their natural element is a unique experience. The boats often have an echo sounder on board to locate the whales and capture their song. It's pretty amazing to think how big a role the whales have played for all coastal communities in Greenland.
Distances in East Greenland are vast and it's 800 km from Tasiilaq to the next town, Ittoqqortormiut in the north. It turns a sea voyage into an exotic voyage in an area where the modern world has not left many marks. On a cruise in this desolate and isolated world, with scenery that few people ever experience, puts everything in a new perspective. At the same time, food, comfort and safety aboard are tip-top.
Ice fishing is a traditional way of fishing in the winter. This is how hunters have caught halibut for millennia and in the Ammassalik area and in Ittoqqortoormiut in East Greenland this kind of fishing is both popular and widespread. The season already starts in the middle of December, and is best from March and April. You can choose to go on trips that last from one day to multi-day trips, where you can also meet many of the local fishermen in search of halibut, redfish, catfish and shark.
Notice the drying racks for fish and meat, seal, and yarn, and the buoys and kayaks that are in use every day. Perhaps this is here you shall try the favourite snack ammassat (capelin), which is a small herring-like fish or perhaps dried reindeer or whale skin with blubber. Or how about a trip to the market that is full of meat from whales, seals, reindeer and musk oxen. Meat was the source of survival and is central in Greenlandic cuisine with roots in the ancient Inuit traditional, strong community.
In East Greenland are you close to the original Greenland, and in jewellery, clothing, leather products and handicrafts you rediscover the Greenlandic soul - a little piece of culture, processed by nature's gifts. Almost all of nature's materials are part of the Greenlandic handicraft tradition. 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.
The little red helicopter flies low over Ammassalik Island. Discover mountains and gorges, glaciers and icebergs from completely new angles and fly right to the edge of the ice sheet. The helicopter lands here at a height of 1000 metres and you get views of the ice sheet on one side and the massive glaciers on the other side. Below is the beautiful Sermilik fiord and in clear weather you can see mountain peaks more than 200 km away.
In East Greenland, sailing has always been the way to put food on the table. Also today, sailing plays a crucial role in this huge area, where no towns are linked by roads. Add in the small settlement communities, where livelihoods are still from hunting and be invited for Greenlandic specialties. Get close to bird cliffs, young glaciers, whales and icebergs. You can choose between trips lasting a few hours to a week's trip, sleeping in tents or hunting cabins.
Even the most down-to-earth people are spellbound when the Northern Lights sweep across the night sky over the East Greenlandic towns and settlements. Legends are fed by nature's amazing expression of energy, and you understand why Greenlanders of the past thought that the Northern Lights were linked to life in the hereafter. Nowadays we know better. Yet you will still be spellbound and instinctively sense man's insignificance when nature's energies unfold so magnificently.
Arctic Char can be caught everywhere in East 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, and where the water is relatively still. Take, for example, Adventure Camp Greenland as your starting point, where guides can help you find the good fishing spots. The season runs from mid-July to late August.
In Ittoqqortoormiit in Northeast Greenland, the midnight sun is from 17.5 to 28.5. During this time the sun never sets, but is in the sky 24 hours a day. In return, it does not rise above the horizon during the polar nights in winter. Tasiilaq lies on the border of the midnight sun.
There are countless opportunities for skiing experiences in East Greenland - from short trips to longer day excursions from Tasiilaq to the surrounding fjords, valleys and mountains of East Greenland's wild snowy landscape. Also summer skiing is possible on several of the glaciers. Tasiilaq also has a ski lift for alpine races. In Ittoqqormiut, the skiing season runs from January to June. Specifically, April and May are good months in which the area offers excellent off-piste experiences.
On small-game hunting trips you can take down foxes, hares and birds. Hunting for small game is not as physically challenging as trophy hunting for reindeer and musk ox, but it is an advantage to be in good shape. In Northeast Greenland there is also excellent fishing, which can easily be combined with hunting small game. As a tourist, it is no longer possible to buy a hunting license and go small-game hunting by yourself. Hunting must take place on organised hunting trips.
In East Greenland dog sleds are still an important means of transportation. However, here too snowmobiles have made their appearance, and there are good opportunities to experience fantastic scenery and speed. On a snowmobile, you can travel far and wide to places and areas you would not otherwise reach. It's fast and the challenges are great, because the landscape is varied and the mountains are steep. The grandeur is immense. The wildness is the same, but beware - do not let it spread to your driving.
In East Greenland, organised hunting trips to Ittoqqortoormiut are on offer. Today, as a tourist, you can no longer buy a hunting license and hunt by yourself. Musk oxen and reindeer are in the sights on the trophy hunts. It is an advantage to be in good physical shape, because you may risk having to walk a long way to the coast with meat, skins and trophies. Usually, there is a large number of wildlife and typically the game is killed relatively close to the coast. One option is to go with hunters on a seal hunt.
Hot springs are found in many places in Greenland, but in only a few places are they easily accessible and at a comfortable bathing temperature. If you stick your finger in the hot springs in the Ittoqqortoormiit area, you will burn yourself. The temperature is about 60 degrees C. The definition of a hot spring is that it has the same temperature all year round and is warmer than the location's average temperatures. In Greenland, due to the hot springs, there is no volcanic activity as there is in Iceland, but other geological processes.