Uncharted Backpacker

Silence – What It’s Like to Travel in Greenland

Greenland Travel

Most only get a glimpse of this place from their plane window cruising at thirty thousand feet. The odd cracking glacier, icebergs floating out to sea, or the icecap which spans for thousands of kilometres. For those of you who see this through the small circular window and wonder what it would be like to be down there, this is for you. This is a testimony of my travels across one of the world’s last remaining untouched natural paradises.  Greenland is a destination in which explorers are born, a place where we can push our natural curiosity and intuition to new levels as travellers. Navigating through Greenland will change you and ignite the passion that explorers in the past had in a much different world.

The World’s Biggest Island

Look on any map and you will see how vast Greenland is. Traveling here those distance become even more present when you realize getting from A to B can be a logistical nightmare. Greenland has almost no roads, no buses, and no trains to link the cities. The main form of transport is either by boat, or small prop planes. This is however why Greenland is easily one of the most special destinations I have been.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

The Massive Inland Icecap

The lack of transport forces you to slow down and really dig deep into specific areas. It also makes you feel so incredibly remote (which you are!). Often you can hike for days without seeing another single traveller or local for that matter.

A trip to the world’s biggest island makes you a part of a small group of adventurers who are pioneering travel here. You will be the first to do many things, the first to blaze a new trail or the first to visit small remote communities. A trip here is guaranteed to be a journey of a lifetime.

The Silence of Greenland

Never have I been in such a quiet. As you drift amongst gargantuan icebergs, hike to the summit of a never before climbed peak, or hunt for seals with Inuit locals. The first and foremost thing you will realise is Greenland’s eerie silence.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Icebergs in Southern Greenland

Being so disconnected from the rest of the world has allowed Greenland to retain this silence. Even with modernisation creeping its way in, you will easily and often find yourself surrounded by the silence.

Greenland’s Silence is part of its way of altering you. In such a fast-paced world its hard to find yourself in such a scenario. Here all the worries of your life feel worlds away and when the silence takes hold you will change. Do not fight it, embrace one of Greenland’s most fascinating features.

Greenland’s Inuit

The tiny population that occupies the world’s largest island are known as the Inuit. They are made up of many minority groups, each with their own distinct culture and Inuit language dialects. Their way of life has changed very little over the past thousands of years, as they live simple but fulfilling lives as hunters and fishermen.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Seal Hunting near Ilulissat, Disko Bay

Travelling here you will meet and be welcomed into many of these communities as the Intuit are some of the friendliest people in the world. Experiencing their way of life will bring out your inner self. They can help you release the stress and anxiety of the modern world through hunting, hiking or simply surrounding yourself with raw nature.

In a land so vast and empty it can seem like a daunting experience to be here, but with the help of these incredible people you will never feel fear, only excitement for what comes next.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Traditional Inuit Tattoos

Where Should You Go in Greenland?

Looking at a map you will likely get frustrated due to the lack of information and seemingly impossible logistics for travelling Greenland. This is the stage where most just call it quits, but if you dig deeper and take the plunge you can be one of the few to travel to this spares and mysterious tundra.  Every corner of Greenland is guaranteed to be life changing, but for a quick lowdown on travelling to Greenland here is some brief descriptions on its more popularly travelled regions:

Western Greenland – Greenland’s West coast is vast and travelling here you can see many different regions. From small remote fishing villages to iceberg filled fjords; this is the Arctic you dreamt of. Most people focus on Ilulissat and for good reason. Ilulissat ticks off all the Greenland wants, but venture south and you will find many regions that see barely any tourism offering amazing cultural experiences.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Overlooking Disko Bay from Ilulissat

South Greenland – This is where Greenland gets the “Green” in its name. The rolling green pastures are filled with fluffy sheep and interesting Viking ruins. Meanwhile the mountains in the distance are much more dramatic than anywhere else in Greenland. Many communities here offer much more experience-based tourism and travelling here can often be quite cheaper than other regions.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

igaliku in Southern Greenland

East Greenland – If travelling to Greenland wasn’t remote enough it only gets more adventurous in the east, this area is truly off the beaten track. Much of the region can only be visited on an expedition-based tour. It’s an expensive pace to be, but if you find yourself here you will be immersed into some of the most incredible and remote scenery on the planet.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Whales in Disko Bay

How to Travel to Greenland

This is easily one of the most confusing questions you will ask yourself when making the decision to come here. Simply put, traveling here independently without any help is possible, but extremely hard. Now tour companies like Guide to Greenland are offering unique ways to get to Greenland and experience it in a much more adventurous way by eliminating the complexity of travel and focusing on getting you in touch with nature and culture.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Northern Lights over Ilulissat

To begin with the most common way to arrive in Greenland is by flying to one of its few airstrips. The south is serviced by Narsarsuaq, the west by either Nuuk or Ilulissat, and the east by Tasiilaq. Only two airlines fly here, Air Greenland and Air Iceland Connect. Upon arrival it’s easy to find accommodation, but you will need the help of local tour agencies to really get deeper into the country.

My Greenland Experience

Starting in the South at Narsarsuaq I hiked, climbed and ultimately got lost in the amazing nature. I explored local farming culture in Igaliku and the ancient Viking ruins around Qassiarsuk. All these settlements are close by as they are located in the same Fjord, but because of the fact that there are no roads you must take boat transfers around.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Old Ilulissat Town

Leaving the South to the West, I took the AUL Ferry from Narsaq. It takes four days to journey to the final stop in the Arctic Circle in Ilulissat.

During these four nights you will get to stop at plenty of remote settlements, some of the highlights are, Arsuk, Sisimiut, Paamiut and a whole day in the capital, Nuuk.

Finally, after over a week of the South and Western Coast I arrived in Ilulissat where I explored for another eight days.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Hiking in Narsarsuaq

Unwinding after Greenland

After a peaceful, revitalising and soul-searching journey through Greenland it is taking me a lot to process it all. This is only the first of many posts I will write, but I hope it encourages you to think about taking a trip up here yourself or just to show you a small bit of this little-known part of the world. This was the first trip of many to come, I am positively addicted to Greenland and the Arctic!

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Kangaamiut Town, taken from the AUL Fery

I can see the change in myself after returning from Greenland’s Silence. The utter peacefulness has truly eased the stress on my mind, Greenland is my new therapy.

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Iceberg and Whale in Disko Bay, taken from a Air Zafari Flight

Guide to Greenland

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

As I said before, travelling to Greenland is a specialised kind of travel. It’s not easy to arrange transport, accommodation and excursions here as tourism has not quite made it to many of the regions. If you really want to experience Greenland to its fullest you must contact a tour agency.

Luckily, Guide to Greenland the company that assisted me in my journey here not only does specialised trips, but will cater to what you want and use primarily local Inuit companies to get you the best, most authentic experience. Here’s a few upcoming tours that I will most likely be joining myself this winter! Check them out.

Trip – Glaciers in Disko Bay

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

Trip – Travel with Hunters in North Greenland

Silence – What It's Like to Travel in Greenland

 

 

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Stephen Gollan

Stephen Gollan

Uncharted Backpacker is a glimpse at the past eleven years of globetrotting I have done. Now at over ninety countries I share my travel knowledge for you so you too can travel the world and see what wonders it has to offer.

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