On paper, Greenland is a land of extremes: world’s largest island,most sparsely populated country on Earth, home to the oldest fossils and largest ice sheet outside of Antarctica, the continuous daylight in northern villages from April to August and continuous night in the winter. But on the ground, facts and figures fade in comparison to the vastness one encounters in every direction, be it the frozen mountains extending to the horizon, the sapphire blue of endless Arctic seawater, the boundless ice fields or the otherworldly quality of polar light in the summertime, brilliantly bright yet diffuse and gentle.
In a land of such rarefied people living at the top of the globe, the Greenlanders are a lighthearted bunch who are proud of their country and eager to share it with visitors. The native population still revels in their heritage as hunters, fishermen and craftspeople, but you’ll also find Internet entrepreneurs, epicurean coffee baristas and amateur soccer heroes training every daylight hour(which essentially means one neverending game all summer long).
With climate change reshaping the country, many come to witness its awesome effects on the Greenland ice cap. As the ice cap melts and glaciers pull back, the face of the country is forever changed. The UNESCO-protected Icefjord near Ilulissat, for example, already receded 10 km (6.2 mi) from 2001 to 2004, and the people of Qaanaaq in far northeast Greenland report that the sea ice, which they rely on for hunting, has thinned by over 1 m (3.3 ft). With such momentous changes underway, witnessing the effects of climate change first-hand takes on new dimensions beyond sightseeing.
Dog sledding is not just a pastime in Greenland; it’s a way of life.
It’s hard to resist the call of the great polar wild, whether you choose to kayak through glacial lagoons alongside narwhals, heli-ski down frozen mountainsides, or track reindeer, walruses or the elusive polar bear on a photo hunt. For a truly unforgettable experience, pull on sealskin clothes and kamik boots and mount up on a dog sled. The Arctic winds whip around you as you sail over the snow behind a team of spirited paws. Dog sledding is not only an exhilarating way to take in
the eye-popping landscape, it’s an authentically Greenlandic experience rooted deeply in Inuit culture.
With most villages spread along the narrow, ice-free coastline, there are no roads connecting communities. Dog sledding is not just a pastime in Greenland; it’s a way of life. A visit
to Greenland is a unique adventure.Life at the top of the world means you’re in for a thrilling ride.
TEXT: Jonas Moody
PHOTO: Benjamin Hardman