The Top Landing Sites in Greenland

January 7, 2016

There are a number of exciting regions of Greenland, each with unique attractions and points of interest accessible on your cruise. As the first explorers of the island soon discovered, ice, weather and Mother Nature can affect landing site accessibility, but add to the adventure of exploring Greenland.

Uummannaq: Taking a Piece of Your Heart

Legend has it that when you leave Uummannaq, you leave a piece of your heart behind, to summon you back time and time again. Rich in Inuit culture, this second largest town in Northern Greenland - were the dogsled is still the preferred transportation method for fishermen - was named for its heart-shaped mountain. Uummannaq is home to the Inuit Museum, showcasing the history of the Inuit and their traditions.

Uummannaq houses. Photo credit: Liz Teague
Uummannaq houses. Photo credit: Liz Teague

Here, the Uummannaq fjord gives a breathtaking view of the town and if you arrive by water, stay on deck as you enter the fjord. Pilot whales, icebergs, seals and fishing boats share the sea, and glaciers and mountains provide ample opportunity for outdoor adventures. From mid-May to July, the sun does not set in Uummannaq, and in winter, it is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights.

If you’re interested in history, check out the Thule mummies and other archeological sites.

 

Ittoqqortoormiit: One of the Best Reasons to Visit Greenland

For a true wilderness adventure, it doesn’t get much more remote than Ittoqqortoormiit. As the most northerly community of East Greenland, just reaching the town can be an adventure. Sea ice blocks the passage to town nine months of the year, and hunting and tourism are the economic staples for the locals.

Greenland dogs in Ittoqqortoormiit. Photo credit: Yukun Shih
Greenland dogs in Ittoqqortoormiit. Photo credit: Yukun Shih

If you prefer fire to ice, take in the Northern Lights dancing in the sky near the warmest hot spring in Greenland in Cape Tobin, with water temperatures reaching 143 F (62C).

 

Kangerlussuaq: Gateway to the Ice Cap 

Located on the west coast of Greenland, Kangerlussuaq was established in 1941 to serve as a US Air Force base and was an important early warning facility during the Cold War. It was decommissioned in 1992, but history buffs can learn about the area at the city’s museum, or check out the many things to see and do in Kangerlussuaq

The Russell Glacier just outside of Kangerlussuaq
Visit the Russell Glacier just outside of Kangerlussuaq

Drive down a dirt road and you will run into the ice cap. The Russell Glacier is approximately 14 miles (20 km) out of town. You might also see musk oxen and reindeer, or try sea kayaking in the fjord during summer months. 

 

Ilulissat Unesco World Heritage Site

Ilulissat is Greenland’s 34 mile (55 km) long and 3 mile (6 km) wide fjord where icebergs are the stars of the show. In fact, Ilulissat means icebergs. Take a hike along the shore of the fjord, enjoy a Zodiac ride, or photograph this exquisite work of nature.  

Ilulissat ice fjord
Ilulissat ice fjord


Hot Springs and Polar Bears in Nanortalik

The southernmost city in Greenland, Nanortalik is a city of contrasts, where polar bears roam freely along city outskirts (Nanortalik means “the place with polar bears”). Within the city limits, you are likely to be invited to a choir performance followed by a feast of Greenland’s gastronomic delights. Just 25 miles (40 km) out of town, you can also visit Greenland’s only natural forest.

Some of the most challenging rock walls can be found in Nanortalik with sheer rock faces rising from the fjord. The (3,300 foot) Ketil Mountain will challenge the most experienced climbers.

Uunartoq hot springs - Photo credit: C. King
Uunartoq hot springs - Photo credit: C. King

When you’ve reached your physical limit, recharge and relax in the hot springs located a short ride away on the island of Uunartoq, where water temperatures in the three natural hot springs average 98F (37C) and the air temperature is 50F (10C).

Visit with Vikings

Herjolfsnes is near the southern tip of Greenland, and was once the site of a Viking colony, including a church and graveyard. In the 1920s, the ocean started washing away the graveyards. An archaeological dig in the 1990s unearthed well-preserved clothing, tools, combs and cooking utensils.

Are you ready to take a trip of a lifetime? Contact an experienced Polar Travel Adviser and speak to a Greenland expedition specialist. 

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