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GREENLAND TRAVEL GUIDE
This trip review focuses on a dog sled expedition at 77 degrees north, around Qaanaaq (Thule), referred to be the world's northernmost community having a permanent population.
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SEE IN THULE?
After a couple of nights in Copenhagen and then in Ilulissat, an Air Greenland's Dash-7 brings me to Qaanaaq (Thule) via Qaarsut and Upernavik, where I finally join an expedition having the purpose to travel by dog sledge for six days (five nights) in the Thule district, driving on frozen fjords between enormous glaciers and icebergs. A visit to the ghost town of Qeqertarsuaq on Herbert Island, is also included. The trip did run in April, when it's light for 24 hours in most parts of Greenland and when the temperature may drop down to -25 degrees centigrade. The trip was lead by experienced Inuit hunters knowing these places like no other. A trip to Thule is therefore suggested to everybody who is interested in odd and extreme landscapes, and to who would like to learn more about Inuit culture, including how to survive in these desolated and forgotten places.
IS IT EASY TO DRIVE A DOG SLEDGE? WHAT PREPARATION DO I NEED?
The sled dogs tours offered in Qaanaaq are normally run by a team of Inuit hunters who make their experiences available to tourists and they well know how to travel safely in this extreme environment. Each sled is composed by a dog team driven by a Greenlandic hunter and the tourist just sits on top of the sled (generally over luggage and supplies) and shouldn't do anything else than enjoying the beautiful views and take pictures. Therefore, you don't need to know how to drive the sled or how to commands to the dogs, while it may be important to have a good mobility of the legs as in some instances you may have to jump on the sled "on the fly".
HOW TO GET TO THULE?
Getting to Qaanaaq from the rest of the world is an adventure itself, since it requires a long route through Copenhagen, Kangerlussuaq and Ilulissat, with several overnight stops in these middle cities, because of the flight schedule. Anyway this isn't a real problem, since Greenland is all beautiful and you will certainly wish to extend your stay in some gateway town like Ilulissat, where additional tours and excursions are available year-round. I suggest to consult Airgreenland's web site for latest schedules and news.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO THULE?
The best time for a tour with sled dogs in Qaanaaq (and, generally, in the rest of Greenland) corresponds to the months of March and April, when the ice is at its maximum extension and when the days are long enough to be able to remain outdoor for many hours. Because of the global climate change, it is not advisable to plan these trips by sled dogs in May or June anymore, as the ice tends to break every year earlier, creating large water channels that can't be crossed with dogsledge.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HOW TO ORGANIZE SLED DOGS TRIPS IN GREENLAND?
Detailed information on how to organize a trip to Greenland with sled dogs are available at this page, where you will find details on how to get to Qaanaaq and which agencies to contact to book the sled dogs.
GREENLAND THULE (QAANAAQ) PICTURES
|<<-- GO Qaanaaq is known also as Thule and, at more than 77 degrees of latitude, represents one of the last frontier and the northernmost city in the world hosting a permanent population. The town is located along a fjord completely frozen in winter, with enormous icebergs trapped in the pack ice.|
|<<-- GO Our dog sledge expedition in Greenland starts crossing Murchison Sund until reaching Herbert Island, where we spend the first night camping in small tents very close to the pack ice's limit for this winter (which is getting closer to mainland year after year due to global warming).|
|<<-- GO Because of the wide expanse of open water in front of us, we drive our dog sledges back along Murchison Sund, up to the abandoned town of Qeqertarsuaq on Herbert island. During the trip by dog sledges, our Inuit guides hunt for seals catching some of them.|
|<<-- GO Today we move from the ghost town of Qeqertarsuaq towards the opposite side of Murchison Sund, driving the dog sledges between areas of thinner ice requiring all the skills of our Greenlandic guides. The next day we continue our expedition along the Mac Cormick fjord all the way to its end.|
|<<-- GO The expedition to Thule by dog sled continues crossing a glacial valley ending into Bowdoin fjord, where we spend the night in an hunter's hut. The snow covers everything so it's not always easy to understand if the are proceeding over frozen sea, frozen ground or glaciers.|
|<<-- GO This is our last day on dog sledges, therefore we drive back to Qaanaaq crossing the mouth of Inglefield Bredning bay, among impressive cliffs ending straight into the frozen sea.|
|<<-- GO A winter flight over Greenland with beautiful weather is something that you will never forget, because the landscape is so strange and so spectacular. Today the flight from Thule to Ilulissat connecting through Upernavik and Qaarsut (Uummannaq), as well as the next day continuation to Copenhagen thru Kangerlussuaq, gives unforgettable panoramas over extreme arctic scenery.|
|<<-- GO This page contains brief information, useful if you would like to organize a dog sled trip like this. Here you will find information about flights to Greenland, outfitters, where to stay and what technical equipment is suggested (including cloths and digital camera).|