Gorgeous Greenland: A Quick Guide

One of my favourite things about adventure travel is getting to explore different parts of the world in a very different way. Through the ‘quick guide’ series I’m going to talk about some of the lesser travelled places I’ve been to and highlight how to get there, what to do and what to eat!

Greenland is the world’s largest island, an autonomous territory that is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Though it is technically a part of the North American continent, it is politically and culturally more associated with Denmark and Norway. The local people in Greenland are called Innuits, and interestingly enough they will be offended if you call them ‘Eskimos’- the name you might popularly know them by. 

How To Get There

  • Only two airlines (Air Greenland and Air Iceland) offer flight options to Greenland. You must first fly to Copenhagen or Reykjavik and then take a flight to Greenland. 
  • The easiest and biggest airport to fly into is the Kangerlussuaq Airport. There are flights available to Kangerlussuaq from Copenhagen year-round. 

What To Do

  • The Northern Lights: Visit Greenland from September to April to experience one of the most magical sights our world has to offer. Be aware that this is the Arctic winter, however, it will be extremely cold and the daylight hours are very short during this time. 
  • Explore the Icecap: With difficult terrain and harsh conditions, most of the activities in Greenland include an element of adventure! Options to explore the icecap include dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and skiing. You can also take scenic flights over the icecap if you prefer to do something less active. 
  • Ocean Adventures: You can explore the coast of Greenland while kayaking or scuba diving. 

Wildlife cruises and boat tours are a great option for those who want sightings of seals, whales and seabirds. 

Must-Try Foods

  • Suaasat: This is the national dish of Greenland – a traditional Greenlandic soup. It is often made from seal, whale, reindeer, or seabirds.
  • Seafood: The majority of Greenland is covered with permanent glaciers, and hence most of the food you get is from the sea. Dishes that you can try include fish such as Ammassat or capelin (often smoked), mussels, and shrimp. 
  • Uncommon Meats: The harsh terrain in Greenland means you will have the opportunity to taste some of the most uncommon meat! Including whale meat which can be eaten raw, smoked, or cured (Arfeq Nikkui). Other meats that are a part of traditional Greenlandic cuisine includes that of musk ox, Eider sea ducks, seal, and narwhal blubber. 

Greenland is incredible- with much more to do and eat! This is meant to be a quick guide so I haven’t gone into as much detail as it deserves. Comment if you’ve been to Greenland or have any recommendations about more to do/ eat!

Originally written by Deeya Bajaj for Onmanorama

A Sea Kayaking Expedition In Greenland

I’ve adapted this post from an account I wrote when I was 14 years old right after my first ever expedition, a 2 week sea kayaking expedition along the coast of Greenland.

My family’s idea of a holiday is not a typical “relax on the beach and go sightseeing” sort of holiday, it’s more like a “lets climb up this mountain while it’s raining” sort of holiday.

So when dad decided it was time for a father daughter bonding trip I wasn’t too surprised when he suggested a two-week sea kayaking expedition in the fjords of Greenland as opposed to a trip to the mall.

After spending months preparing for the expeditions (including training and logistics) we finally started on our journey to Greenland. The travel involved getting from New Delhi to the starting point of our expedition was intense! From New Delhi we took a direct flight to Copenhagen. We spent a night at Copenhagen and then took a flight to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, from there we took another flight to Ilulissat, where we spent the day shopping for supplies for our expedition.  We got on a helicopter from Ilulissat to Umanaq and spent time there getting all our gear prepared. From Umanaq we got on a motor boat with all of our expedition gear and kayaks and to (finally!) reach our first expedition campsite.

Along the coast of Greenland: A bench overlooking the icebergs

We would kayak along the coast everyday till we got to our next campsite. After we secured our kayaks, we would set up the group tent before setting up any of our personal tents. We would all eat breakfast and dinner in the big group tent together. Our expedition leader Kim would usually be the chef, but sometimes other team members would take over.

On one of the final days of our expedition, halfway to our next campsite, the weather suddenly turned.  We were kayaking along a cliff and there were huge freezing cold salt water waves splashing on us. The salt water made my eyes burn- I could barely keep them open. I remember being cold and miserable, but knowing that we couldn’t stop, all of us had to paddle past the cliff. I was 14 years old, and had never experienced a situation so extreme and challenging before. I  remember my father kept encouraging me from behind and yelling “keep going Deeya, Keep smiling, We will get through this”.

Hearing that positivity in his voice, helped me grit my teeth and keep going. We finally did make it to the next camp drenched and frozen but safe. I think this where I began to realise how important a positive attitude is when it comes to any adventure sport. If the going gets really tough and you think you can’t do it, you definitely will not make it. However, if you plaster a smile on your face and tell yourself you can do it, the going definitely becomes easier. 

Sea Kayaking in Greenland

There are of course difficult moments on all expeditions, but what makes them special are the team members. I remember I was a bit nervous about going on the expedition, because I was going to be the youngest by quite a margin – 28 years to be specific (the closest person to my age was my dad). I soon understood that being outdoors with people is the best way to make friendships that last a lifetime. It doesn’t matter where your team members are from or what age they are, there’s something magical about being outside and facing the wonders and challenges of mother nature together.