Winter Getaways in Greenland – a must do!

 

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I am telling you – the Christmas season in Greenland simply does not get any cosier! There are orange Christmas stars in every house and office window, the days are getting shorter each day, there are always candles lit, and there are a ton of Christmas trees all over town. Oh yeah, and there is a ton of snow and northern lights!

I have personally been in the absolute highest of holiday spirits this year – baking up a storm nearly every other day with warm fruit compotes or cranberry something-or-others, and decorating the house with festive candles and a Greenlandic mobile. Cultivating cosy has been such an enjoyment!

Here are three ways and places you, too, can get filled with the winter spirit in Greenland!

Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in Nuuk

Bid the sun welcome back in Ilulissat in mid-January

Have fun in the snow in Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq

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Stay In Fashion (and Warm) in Greenland with Qiviut, Muskox Wool

IMG_5129  Kangerlussuaq, 67*N, midday January 2015 (-25*C / -13*F)

How do you stay warm in the Greenland winter? If you’re a tourist, take a tip from the locals. And if you’re a local, you take a tip from the wildlife.

Locals know best

Just like you might follow where the locals go to find the best live music in town, you should note what Greenlanders wear to keep warm.

Of course there are the usual suspects walking around like Canada Goose jackets and Sorel snow boots, but Greenlanders also use a whole host of sustainable locally-sourced animal products as functional, fashionable clothing.

It makes perfect sense, right? These are the very materials that allow Greenland’s wildlife to brave the sub-zero temperatures and icy waters of their Arctic home, and Greenlanders are using their meat and bones for sustenance anyway.

In the north, polar bear fur is common, and sealskin is more and more the image of urban Greenlandic fashion, thanks to the Great Greenland fur house.

But have you heard of muskox wool?

Muskox wool – Greenland’s cashmere

Muskox wool, called qiviut in Greenlandic, is very popular in Greenland for accessories like hats, shawls, and wrist-warmers. It is so fine a material – incredibly warm and soft – and it can even be washed without fear of shrinking. It is the underfur of the muskox, a goat-like animal with thick gnarly horns and an even thicker long coat, that is made into decadent yarn and woven into exquisite pieces. Some of the finest baby clothes I’ve ever seen were made of qiviut.

The best part for tourists is that qiviut is 100% approved for export (unlike polar bear and seal products). Therefore, you can buy up all the qiviut accessories your heart desires. I bet you’ll be the warmest person on the street once you get home! You could also buy the yarn in spools and take it home to the knitter in your life.

Here are my favorite personal qiviut items – a hat handmade and purchased in Kangerlussuaq at the Niviarsiaq Uld shop, and wrist warmers handmade by my colleague’s teenage daughter in Nuuk.

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If you find yourself in Sisimiut one day admiring a woman’s beautifully-woven qiviut scarf, chances are you just might be taking a tip from the local who knows very best.

Read more on Greenland.com about Anita Høegh of Sisimiut – the woman who pioneered the muskox wool industry in Greenland and changed how Greenlanders do warm!

A Surreal Serenade in Greenland

14136803876_ec1ca05fd9_k.jpg Photo credit: Mads Pihl – Visit Greenland

Ever been moved to tears due to an absolutely unbelievable combination of music and nature? It happens all the time at AirZafari!

Music Therapy

Music is an incredible tool to highlight an experience, and often, if the association is strong enough, the memory is seared into your mind and comes through as clear as if it was just yesterday, upon hearing that same music again somewhere down the road.

Listening to music while flying is something that always transports me to another place mentally. The right tune paired with the right scene out the little window can be downright epic.

For about 2 years there I had a small compulsion to listen to ‘Kids’ by MGMT upon takeoff.

Or try listening to Adele’s new ‘Hello’ on repeat while landing over the national monuments of Washington, D.C. (Which I may or may not have just done.) It gets you.

A Surreal Serenade in Greenland

AirZafari knows all about the surreal experience of listening to beautiful music while looking to even more beautiful nature. They often play classical melodies through the headsets for travelers while they gaze down at the sheer vastness of Greenland’s landscape.

Check THIS VIDEO created from a flightseeing tour in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland with AirZafari.

There are no words.

Through the Airplane Window: Videos of Flying in Greenland

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Come fly with me!

Do you like flight videos? Are you the kind of person that likes to visualize what it looks like to land in a country before you travel there? Are you just daydreaming of Greenland?

Well, if you can look past the foggy windows (figuratively, that is) and, at times, shaky filming, then these videos of landing and taking off from various airports and heliports around Greenland (and at different times of the year) can give you the right impression that Greenland is the most majestic place on this earth!

Disclaimer: Every time I shoot one of these videos, I have the highest and most earnest hopes to edit them, add great music, etc. but it just never happens. So I’m abandoning those dreams and simply putting the videos here in their rawest form – take it or leave it! 🙂

The videos are ordered alphabetically by town name.

Illorsuit

Late Spring arrival to Illorsuit, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in North Greenland)

Ilulissat

Late Spring departure from Ilulissat, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in North Greenland, International Airport)

Kangerlussuaq

Late Spring arrival to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in Destination Arctic Circle, International Airport)

Kulusuk

Late Winter arrival to Kulusuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (settlement in East Greenland, International Airport)

Mid Spring departure from Kulusuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (settlement in East Greenland, International Airport)

Early Summer departure from Kulusuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (settlement in East Greenland, International Airport)

Narsaq

Late Winter arrival to Narsaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in South Greenland)

Narsarsuaq

Late Winter arrival to Narsarsuaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in South Greenland, International Airport)

Nugaatsiaq

Late Spring arrival to Nugaatsiaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in North Greenland)

Nuuk

Mid Winter departure from Nuuk, Greenland via Air Iceland (capital city, International Airport)

Late Spring arrival to Nuuk, Greenland via Air Greenland (capital city, International Airport)

Qaarsut

Late Spring departure from Qaarsut, Greenland via Air Greenland (settlement in North Greenland)

Qaqortoq

Late Winter arrival to Qaqortoq, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in South Greenland)

Tasiilaq

Early summer departure from Tasiilaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in East Greenland)

Uummannaq

Late Spring arrival to Uummannaq, Greenland via Air Greenland (town in North Greenland)

Greenland Ice Sheet

Mid Winter flying over East Greenland and Greenland Ice Sheet via Icelandair (no landing)

Early Spring flying over Greenland Ice Sheet and West Greenland via Icelandair (no landing)

Early Summer flying over West Greenland via Icelandair (no landing)

Greenland: Summer versus Winter Photos

It truly is difficult for me to decide when Greenland is most beautiful during the year. Summer is fantastic with long days full of ever-changing light, water that sparkles like diamonds, and clear blue fjords. But winter is also extremely striking with lots of snow juxtaposed by colorful houses.

I’ll let you be the judge! Here are a few photos to compare Greenland towns in both summer and winter versions.

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Kangerlussuaq has an Arctic desert climate and goes through an incredible costume change between summer and winter. Due to the settlement’s close proximity to the Greenland Ice Sheet, it can be one of the colder places in Greenland in winter, easily reaching -30*C / -22*F. Oddly enough, though, it can also be one of the warmest places in Greenland in summer, approaching 25*C / 77*F.

In winter, one can go dogsledding and snowmobiling and watch the Northern Lights. In summer, the activities transform to hiking, kayaking, and seeing the Midnight Sun. The Greenland Ice Sheet is a favorite all year round.

Read more about Kangerlussuaq on Greenland.com.

Here is Kangerlussuaq in winter version and summer version, looking westward from the top of Kitchen Mountain behind the airport. Which is more beautiful?

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Nuuk, Greenland’s capital, is a coastal city and usually has a fairly mild environment. However, climate change has made extreme temperatures, hot and cold, less surprising when they happen. This year, winter/spring was very long and very cold with snow showers still into April and May.

In winter, one can delve into city culture at Katuaq Culture House, the Greenland National Museum, and fine restaurants. In summer, it’s all about spending time in Nuuk Fjord, whale watching for 3 dedicated Humpback whales that return year after year, or walking in the mountains that surround the city.

Read more about Nuuk on Greenland.com.

Here is Nuuk in winter version and summer version, looking toward Colonial Harbor, the area where Danish colonists first settled in 1729. Which is more beautiful?

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Ilulissat is home to Greenland’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprising Sermermiut (ancient settlement grounds) and the Ilulissat Icefjord. Winter is full of Northern Lights watching, dog sledding, and snowshoeing while summer gives ample opportunity to sail around the Icefjord and to small settlements, bask in the Midnight Sun, and kayak.

Read more about Ilulissat at Greenland.com.

Here is the UNESCO World Heritage Site in winter and summer version, looking south over the Ilulissat Icefjord. Which is more beautiful?

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Tasiilaq is the only town in East Greenland, and is home to 60% of East Greenlanders. All others live in settlements of just 79 – 426 inhabitants. Winter is great for snowshoeing, heliskiing, and dog sledding. Summer is ideal for hiking through the Valley of Flowers and sailing through iceberg-filled waters.

Read more about Tasiilaq at Greenland.com.

Here is Tasiilaq in winter and summer version, looking north across the water at the Polheim Mountain. Which is more beautiful?

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Hiking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland

13561874664_c5cec2e689_k Photograph by Mads Pihl – Visit Greenland.

Summer is (nearly) upon us, which means it is almost prime hiking season in Greenland. Ski boots and winter jackets put away, hiking boots and gaiters unpacked!

To some, hiking is what you call a relaxing Saturday afternoon. A nice easy day trip to the hills to enjoy nature, pick berries, sit and drink a coffee, and maybe even have a barbecue on the rocks. It can be done anywhere in Greenland as there is backcountry everywhere.

To others, hiking is more of a walkabout. A much-anticipated, longer trek that not only transports you from Point A to Point B but also has possibility to transport you on a more spiritual level. You get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you reignite your love affair with nature, and maybe you even push yourself in a new experience. If this is your kind of hiking, then the Arctic Circle Trail in Destination Arctic Circle is for you!

Read more about it in this article, Hiking the Arctic Circle Trail, I wrote for the Visit Greenland monthly newsletter. (Do you want to start receiving the Visit Greenland newsletter directly? Sign up here!)

Or watch in live video!

And if you still can’t get enough, see here for my other blog posts about hiking in Greenland.

PHOTO GALLERY: Colorful Greenland

Erik the Red should have called Greenland “Regnbueland” instead 🙂 Reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, violets, whites and everything in between – it all exists in the nature here!

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Qaqortoq, January 2014 (Photo credit: Pilu Nielsen via Facebook)

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Nuuk, September 2013

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Ilulissat, April 2013

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Ilulissat, April 2013

yellow

Somewhere between Nuuk and Maniitsoq, August 2012

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Nuuk, December 2013

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Uummannaq, June 2013

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Nuuk, August 2012

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Ilulissat, August 2013

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Sisimiut, August 2013

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Kangerlussuaq, August 2013

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Nuuk (Ilulialik), August 2012

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Nuuk, September 2012

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Somewhere between Sisimiut and Ilulissat, August 2012

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Ilulissat Ice Fjord, UNESCO World Heritage Site, June 2012

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Kangerlussuaq, March 2013

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Nuuk, August 2012 cropped-p1000288.jpg

Uummannaq, June 2012

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Ilulissat Ice Fjord, UNESCO World Heritage Site, April 2013

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Sisimiut, August 2013

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Ilulissat, August 2013

Click here for more exquisite shots of this fantastic country.

PHOTO GALLERY: Signs/Menus around Kangerlussuaq

Basic Information posted at World of Greenland – Arctic Circle’s Old Camp Accommodation (Taken Spring 2013)IMG_2042

Basic Information in the Welcome Booklet at World of Greenland – Arctic Circle’s Polar Lodge accommodation (Taken Spring 2013)IMG_2019

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Business Hours for World of Greenland – Arctic Circle’s Restaurant Roklubben (Taken Spring 2013)IMG_2048

Dinner Menu for World of Greenland – Arctic Circle’s Restaurant Roklubben (Taken Spring 2013) IMG_2030

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Thai Food and Pizza Menus at [this cafe], south of the runway (Taken Spring 2013)IMG_2089

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Business Hours at the bar on the 2nd floor of Hotel Kangerlussuaq/Kangerlussuaq Airport (Taken Spring 2013)IMG_2124

PHOTO GALLERY: Greenland Towns & Settlements

Here is a one stop shop for town photos of every town and settlement I have visited, plus some quick facts! The order is clockwise, starting with East Greenland and finishing with North Greenland.

Sources: Wikipedia for coordinates… bank.stat.gl for population statistics 

Greenland // 2012 Population: 56,749 (Combined Greenland-born and other)

Greenland // 2022 Projected Population: 56,755 (Combined Greenland-born and other) // 2032 Projected Population: 56,184 (” “) // 2040 Projected Population: 55,386 (” “)

Tasiilaq // 65*N 37*W // 2012 Population: 2,004 (Town) // Photos date: 24-26 April 2013

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Kulusuk // 65*N 37*W // 2012 Population: 280 (Settlement) // Photo date: 28 April 2013

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Qaqortoq // 60*N 46*W // 2012 Population: 3,297 (Town) // Photo date: No Photo

Narsaq // 60*N 46*W // 2012 Population: 1,581 (Town) // Photo date: 15 August 2012

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Arsuk // 61*N 48*W // 2012 Population: 128 (Settlement) // Photo date: 15-16 August 2012

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Paamiut // 61*N 49*W // 2012 Population: 1,568 (Town) // Photo date: 16 August 2012

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Qeqertarsuatsiaat // 63*N 50*W // 2012 Population: 196 (Settlement) // Photo date: 14-17 August 2012

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Kangeq // 64*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 0 (Ruins) // Photo date: 21 April 2013

See here for summer pictures and a fun story about my friend’s afternoon in Kangeq. Her summer trip there was considerably more pleasant than mine!

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Nuuk // 64*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 16,181 (Town) // Photo date: 1 June-12 August 2012, 11 June 2013

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Qoornoq // 64*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 0 (Summer settlement) // Photo date: 3 July 2012

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Maniitsoq // 65*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 2,715 (Town) // Photo date: 18 August 2012

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Kangaamiut // 65*N 53*W // 2012 Population: 351 (Settlement) // Photo date: 20 August 2012

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Sisimiut // 66*N 53*W // 2012 Population: 5,571 (Town) // Photo date: 18 August 2012

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Kangerlussuaq // 67*N 50*W // 2012 Population: 513 (Settlement) // Photo date: 8-13 March 2013

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Aasiaat // 68*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 3,146 (Town) // Photo date: 19 August 2012

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Ilimanaq // 69*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 61 (Settlement) // Photo date: 8 April 2013, 11 June 2013

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Ilulissat // 69*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 4,621 (Town) // Photo date: 27 June 2012, 26 March-10 April 2013

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Oqaatsut // 69*N 51*W // 2012 Population: 50 (Settlement) // Photo date: 30 June 2012, 11 June 2013

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Qullissat // 70*N 53*W // 2012 Population: 0 (Abandoned) // Photo date: 24 June 2012

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Qaarsut // 70*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 171 (Settlement) // Photo date: No Photo

Uummannaq // 70*N 52*W // 2012 Population: 1,280 (Town) // Photo date: 22 June 2012, 5-6 June 2013

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60-Second Tourism Evaluation of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland (67*N 50*W)

Kangerlussuaq is more than just the busiest airport in Greenland; it is a great winter bang-for-buck destination where you can experience 4 of the Big Arctic Five attractions – the Inland Ice, the Pioneering People of Greenland, Northern Lights, and Sled Dogs! There are also a few restaurants where you can dine on traditional Greenlandic specialties served in a modern gastronomic fashion. And, if you are the wandering type, just step out your back door and take your pick of walks along the mountains. The panoramic views from the fjord to the Inland Ice are truly one of a kind on Greenland’s west coast!

With a good book to pass the time between the day’s activities and dinner or Northern Lights watching, one could easily spend 5-6 nights here. But, if you like being on the go from one activity to the next, you could make Kangerlussuaq your next long weekend destination!

As for me, after 17 nights here, I am ready to move along to my next destination – Ilulissat!

Takuss, Kangerlussuaq!