If you are looking for the ultimate Greenland experience, a few days in East Greenland are definitely worth considering.
The mysterious and mythical East Greenland has remained tucked away between the ice cap and the sea ice for hundreds of years. It has always attracted adventurers, artists, expeditions, scientists, traders and the like.
It is now accessible to travellers with the courage to experience something really special, like travelling via Iceland and from there to Kulusuk airport on the East Coast of Greenland. The adventure starts already when you get off the plane and meet the hospitable and helpful locals. Visit the small village of Kulusuk, where there is good accommodation, or continue onwards at once with a 10-minute helicopter trip to Tasiilaq.
For snow enthusiasts, spring is the interesting time of year, with plenty of opportunities for various types of skiing and dog-sled trips of varying lengths. The sun is high in the sky already at Easter time and it gets very warm, although the snow layer is still several metres thick.
The days in Tasiilaq pass quickly. You can visit the lovely little museum which is located in the village’s old church. Here, you get an insight into a fascinating culture and you can see the fine figurines carved in ivory and bone that East Greenland is famous for. You can also visit the new church and take a look at the decoration inside. If you are there for a weekend, find out when the church service is being held and go along for the experience. If there is snow, the pastor will probably arrive by snowmobile.
Tasiilaq is the home of Filatelia, one of the town’s biggest workplaces. From here interesting Greenlandic stamps are distributed to collectors all over the world.
Across from this is the tourist office and Skæven, the shop with beautiful carvings and fur items, all made by local artists. Have a cup of coffee on their wonderful terrace with a view of the town and the fjord, while you consider which souvenirs to buy or write postcards home. You can also book excursions and guided tours etc. here.
Follow the hill all the way up to the council offices and take a left towards Blomsterdalen (Flower Valley). From here, follow the river up past the church yard and see why the valley got its name. All over the mountainside there are carpets of flowers in different colours. The walk takes about one hour in easy terrain and leads you to a big lake at the end of the valley.
There are many different walks in varying degrees of difficulty. The Sømandsfjeld mountain behind town is climbable, but take a local, experienced guide with you. You will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the town, the fjord, the surrounding mountains and the endless Arctic Ocean.
Back in town, we can recommend taking a rest at »Verdensuniversitetet Neriusaaq« – the town’s book café and meeting place for tourists and locals. They serve coffee, tea and wonderful ice cream cones which can be enjoyed on the small sun terrace. There is, of course, also a fine collection of newspapers and books.
Hotel Angmagssalik also has a modern café and an unsurpassed view of the town and fjord from the big terrace. They have a fine souvenir shop and can help you to book boat and helicopter excursions.
Villages and bears
A stay in Tasiilaq can be combined with a visit to one of the district’s villages to experience life as it is lived in a genuine hunting village. Go to e.g. Tiniteqilaaq which is beautifully located by Sermilik Fjord filled with beautiful, photogenic icebergs.
It is easily reachable in spring with dog sled or snowmobile by driving across Ammassalik Island. The rest of the year you can sail or fly by helicopter.
East Greenland is the realm of the polar bear, but the chance, or risk if you will, of meeting a polar bear is not very likely. On the other hand, the chance of spotting whales or seals is high on the excursions that are arranged from town.
Hidden by the ice
Tasiilaq is one of the most isolated inhabited places in the world. To the west, the ice cap rises up to 2500 metres, to the east in the Denmark Strait, the sea ice stretches from the North Pole, preventing shipping for seven months of the year. Yet it has never been easier to visit this land of adventure, where the means of travel is by plane and helicopter.