I rented a bicycle and rode for about 90 minutes to reach the ice cap. There are some beautiful views there, and I saw a couple of musk oxen along the way. I also saw lots of different kinds of wildflowers, as well as some caribou droppings.
The ice cap spawns many streams, which all flow into the fjord.
The great thing about renting a bike at Kangerlussuaq is that there is no danger of theft - they are never stolen, and you are not even given a lock. If you want to see something on foot, you just leave your bike anywhere, and come back to it later.
There are about 5000 musk oxen near Kangerlussuaq, but they are not native to this area, being transplanted from north-east Greenland in the 1960's. The area they were transplanted from is much more barren than Kangerlussuaq (where there are bushes up to three metres in height), so those musk oxen were used to eating as much as they could all the time. This attitude led to them killing themselves by overeating in the Kangerlussuaq summer. Another attempt was tried, whereby they accustomed the musk oxen to the more plentiful flora gradually over the course of a year in the Copenhagen zoo - this herd survived when taken to Kangerlussuaq, hence the number of animals there today.
Musk oxen are generally shy of humans and will run, except when they have their young with them, when they can be dangerous. This big guy (standing about 1.7 metres high) allowed me to approach within about 7 metres before he ran. Notice the shedding fur - Kangerlussuaq has temperature highs of 18 to 25 degrees Celsius in the summer, which is very hot for these animals. As a result, they tend to hang out near the ice cap in the summer, where it is a bit cooler.
Ilulissat, on the west coast of Greenland north of the Arctic Circle, has a harbour full of icebergs (up to 65 metres high). These come from the "ice fjord" next to Ilulissat; the ice fjord is jammed full of icebergs which have broken off a glacier at the fjord's far end. A must activity is to take the two-hour boat ride among the icebergs. If you take the night trip during the summer, you'll see the midnight sun casting all sorts of different colours on the icebergs.
When you fly into Kangerlussuaq from Copenhagen you first fly over the Faroes, then Iceland and you hit Greenland's east coast at or nearby Angmassalik. This is where most of the Greenland-crossing expeditions start. These days you can even do it commercially - just book a trip (you have to ski yourself, though...). Try to find "Hvitserk" on the internet.
Anyway, the flight will lower down as it flies toward Kangerlussuag and you have an excellent view of the glacier streams and the ice cap and then the western ice edge and the fjords as you approach Kangerlussuaq. Don't think of the ticket cost on this flight - think of the extra sightseeing bonus instead!
When flying between Europe and North America you across the southern half of Greenland somewhere, occasionally further north. To North America it is normally day time, on the return flight it is normally night.
Should you have an opportunity to look out, and lucky you with a window seat, you will see Greenland's icy waters, nunataks and coastal bare land and the ice cap very well. You can see huge ice streams with ice bergs drifting out to open sea. Next, imagine you are there!
Ok, this picture is something of a hoax. As I said on the main page, I have never actually set foot in Greenland. However, there are polar bears there and one day, I hope to see one in its natural setting. Although, maybe not this close. I actually took this shot at the San Diego Zoo.
Eric the Red’s farmstead, Brattahlid (Qassiarsuk), near present Julianehaab in the southern settlement at Osterbygd. He resisted in vein the introduction (c. 1000) of Christianity by his son Leif Ericsson. Eric’s wife Thjodhild then had a small church built. Its ruins are still visible. So are ruins of other houses built by the settlers.
Qaqortoq : the biggest town (pop. 3500) in South Greenland.
You can stroll through the town, visit the fishing harbor and its fish/seal meat market, visit the seal skin tannery. There is also an interesting museum on the Inuits.
There are also nice walks on the surrounding hills overlooking fjords. With some luck, you can watch whales in the distance swimming in the deep blue water dotted with icebergs drifting away.
There are several nice hikes around Narsarsuaq (an international airport lies there in the middle of nowhere). For instance, to watch a glacier flowing into a fjord (picture). Or getting to the icecap.
The ruins of Erik the Red viking first settlement in Greenland lie nearby. There is also a small but interesting museum devoted mainly to the huge US airbase that was built there during WWII.
First time in my life I saw icebergs for real! (fairly small ones, actually)
Among other things then skiing on Greenland is a speciality. Greenland has commited itself to tourism as one of the country's mainstay industries. And with such magnificent natural scenery, a clean environment, an exciting culture and such potential for activity, Greenland will be an attractive travel destination in the years to come
Mountain climbing is possible practically everywhere in Greenland. Nanortalik in the southernmost Greenland challenges mountaineers from all over the world with tall and impressive peeks, some over 2,000 meters high. Other mountaineers prefer to climb down into the ice cap
Bodies are buried above the ground, since the ground is just solid rock or permafrost. No names are put on the graves here (although they are in other parts of Greenland).
I saw at least 12 types of wildflowers in Greenland. The Arctic Cotton Grass, pictured here, was my favourite. It often grows in large groups, especially near fresh water.
We bought a package from Air Iceland, and surprisingly, it's including all meals while we are in...more
special experience at the hotel igloo...cosy but a bit narrow...can get very hot in sunny summer...more
Kangerlussuaq, a former US military base, is the main gateway to Greenland. Since Hotel...more
More Regions in Greenland