Two airlines are operating on Greenland the stat airline Air Greenland and the Icelandic airline Air Iceland. Air Greenland is internationally connected to Copenhagen via Kangerslussuaq airport that is a transit for all the smaller airfields dispersed around the coastline of Greenland. Air Iceland offers a connection between Iceland and Ilulissat.
It may look a bit counter intuitive that you have to fly to Greenland all the way from Denmark and there isn’t a north American connection but it has its historic reasons as Greenland had and still have strong ties with Denmark and Iceland was also a part of Denmark until the second world war.
This summer air Greenland will try to run an air route between Iqaluit, Canada and Nuuk Greenland but I did try to look at the prices and they a stupendously high so if they are trying to see if there is an interest in flying between Greenland and Canada and there is they are just not understanding it is less expensive to fly over Copenhagen if you are not living in the Greenlandic capital Nuuk.
During the long winters in Greenland the transport routes change drastically due to the roads made by the snow scooters compression of the otherwise loos powder snow that comes from the very low temperatures Greenland is accustomed to.
This enables you to take longer hikes around the landscape without skis or snowshoes.
Princess Cruise Lines offers a repositioning cruise from London to New York with one day spent cruising Prins Christian Sund in Greenland and a second day provides a stop in Qaqartoq. The day through the Sund was a living travel channel adventure. We began sighting a weather station manned by 5 persons and their equipment. They all were on the hilltop to view our ship and wave as we passed by. There were unfolding vistas of glaciers, mountains, sheer cliffs, blue waters, and low lying clouds. The sun broke through about noon and the contrast of blue sky and rock walls with jagged peaks was amazing.
About 2 p.m. we approached on tiny village and the entire population came into the Sund in fishing boats. Our cruise ship stopped and the villagers circled the ship for about 15 minutes, waving, smiling, and enjoying the company of other humans. There were grandmas, infants, young people, families and fishermen, some of whom had recently captured seals draped over the sides of their boats. Their homes were visible from the ship and the small shelf of land contained perhaps 30 homes of varying sizes and colors.
As our ship began its journey again, many of the boats followed us for a distance as if reluctant to let us out of sight.
It is so easy to get stuck in Kangerlussuaq:
While coming in from Copenhagen or the south of Greenland might have been smooth, your connecting flight in Kangerlussuaq toward the west or north may often be cancelled or severely delayed due to weather conditions, especially on the west coast. Heavy rains, snow or wind and dense fog may put everything off-schedule. A plane stuck in Nuuk, may well be the plane you were supposed to take to Ilulissat, so the delays transplant through the system.
When in Kangerlussuaq you may find this rather odd, as the weather here is normally dry and fine. This far inland from the outer coast, the climate is very different, and as you will see, the landscape is arid, nearly desert-like.
What you do when you are stuck in Kangerlussuaq is to get a confirmation of your new flight out, and say, if this is next day, you’ll get overnight accommodation at the old American air base hotel across to the other side of the runway from the terminal. You will also be given food vouchers for dinner and breakfast; regular canteen food, nothing special, but sufficient. There is also a Pissifik shop at the terminal with regular Greenland/Danish supermarket goods albeit somewhat limited in range.
How to spend the day in Kangerlussuaq? Walk around in the area, see musk oxen, climb up a hill for the view. Half a day's tour with an organized touring company (ask at the souvenir shop at the airport) to the edge of the ice cap - it's all possible. Kangerlussuaq is a prime hiking area. Buy a map (available in the airport shop) and start walking, or rent a bike and travel the many gravel roads around the end of the Kangerlussuaq fjord. Make the best and most out of it!
Air Iceland (http://www.airiceland.is/AirIceland/Actionpackeddaytours/) offers good packages for Greenland. The best choice IMO is to fly to Kulusuk and explore the lovely eastern coast of Greenland: scenic and less tourist-crowded than the western side.
Prices are high.
As an alternative you could book only flights via Air Iceland and book an hotel in Ammassalik or Kulusuk.
From Kulusuk you can get to Ammassalik with a short helicopter ride or with a boat ride.
In Ammassalik there are some hotels; I'd suggest the lovely "Red House" (http://www.tuning-greenland.com/en/home_long.php#1). There is also the Angmassalik Hotel.
www.east-greenland.com is a good site to organize your trip to tjhe Kulusuk-Angmassalik area.
Denmark has seen a few specialist travel agencies come and go. One stayer seems to be Grønlands Rejsebureau. I don't really have any experience with them, but it seems to be the main one , and as indicated, a stayer. So they must be doing something right. Check their pages for info, ideas and cost and make your own judgement.
Getting to Greenland is expensive, and can only be done directly from a few places. Here they are:
(1) daily flights on Air Greenland from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq or Narsarsuaq
(2) flights from Keflavik, Iceland to Kangerlussuaq or Narsarsuaq. These are operated by Air Iceland or Icelandair charter. If their websites don't mention these, talk to a travel agent about them.
(3) daily flights from Reykjavik Iceland to Kulusuk on Greenland's east coast. Be aware that a flight across Greenland from Kulusuk to the west coast will cost at least US $500 one way.
(4) Starting in June 2007, flights from Baltimore USA to Kangerlussuaq for about $500 each way. This will be the cheapest option for North Americans.
(5) about 5 flights in the entire summer from Iqaluit (in Nunavut, Canada) to the West coast of Greenland (Aasiat or Sisimiut). Contact the Great Canadian Travel Company about these. They offer these as one-way or return flights, and will do them in combination with a flight from Ottawa or Montreal to Iqaluit, if you like.
The Norwegian Coastal Express line company Hurtigruten uses some of their ships during greenland summers. A cruise program is available visiting the east as well as west coast. They are entering their new polar explorer ship into service this year. Costs a fortune, but hey, nothing else to do with your money; try this!
The coast line is sailing from Narssarssuaq and reach the cities at the westcoast. It is a spectacular trip with magnificent views. I prefer sailing in the summertime in sunshine and high temperatures among 15*C. But it is not allways like that. Also you now can cruise with a norwegian ship called MS FRAM. For further information use the link.
To get to East Greenland is a bit cumbersome. If not already on Greenland, Iceland would be your best transit point.
Fly to Reykjavik and fly from there on Air Iceland which is a domestic subsidiary of Icelandair.
Air Iceland flies to Kulusuk near Angmassalik and to Nerelit Inaat close to Ittoqqortoormiit/Scoresbysound. Flight time to both places is about two hours. There are also connections between Constable Point/Nerelit Inaat and Kulusuk, but by Greenlandic charters and local airlines. Check the availability with travel agents in Angmassalik and Ittoqqortoormiit. There isn't a big choice. Try Air Alpha Greenland A/S on phone and fax +299 99 993858 Ittoqqortoormiit.
This web page lands you on schedules and fares to Constable Point:
Cost for the cheapest return ticket is in the range of ISK 30.000.
Air Iceland also flies from Reykjavik to Narsarsuaq on south-west Greenland.
Internal travel on Greenland is done either by Greenlandair or the shipping line Arctic Umiaq Lines, and its associated fjord boats doing sailings connected to Atlantic freighters of AUL, such as the useful one from Nuuk to Kapisilitt delivering goods there.
Private owners will be happy to transport you around for a fee, and will also pick you up at an appointed spot and time.
Sightseeing boats connected to local travel agencies may be chartered for longer trips if you have the money or the group with whom to share the cost.
You may also get lifts with private fishing vessels. Some payment is perhaps expected; find out when you board.
Then there is the muscle power modes of travel: You can walk a trail (not a very "beaten" one...) from Kangerlussuaq to Sisimiut and similar hikes in the Nuuk area and between the southern settlements and remains from the Nordic settlers. Further up north, say Ummannaq and Upernavik areas, dog sledding could be an option for the adventourous. Skiing is an option to get around, apparently most developed inland from Sisimiut. Then you have the skiers who ski across Greenland for the heck of it.
Unless on a charter boat package from Svalbard, Canada or Iceland, or on board your own sailing vessel or cruiser, you will most likely be flying into Greenland. Two airports have regular international flights; Kangerlussuaq in the north, and Narsarssuaq in the south. For a third, add Kulusuk near Angmassalik - see later. Kangerlussuaq is the most frequented. Local flights fan out from these two airports, and they also serve as internal Greenland hubs.
There are flights to Kangerlussuaq and Narsarssuaq from Copenhagen on a daily basis (at least to Kangerlussuaq). From Reykjavik there are flights to Kulusuk near Angmassalik on the east coast. The you can ski (three weeks???) or fly from Angmassalik to Kangerlussuaq on the western side of the ice cap.
From Nunavut (Inuvik) in Canada, there are sometimes charters and other irregular flights to Kangerlussuaq. Same goes for Reykjavik to north-eastern Greenland. There are also military flights from the US to the remnants of the airbases both at Thule, Kangerlussuaq and Narsarssuaq and the ice cap station. With conncetions into those circles you may catch a free ride?
Ships to Greenland ply on a regular basis from Denmark. It is a very long haul, and passengers are normally not let aboard these freighters. The Greenland fishing fleet vessles have irregular landings on Iceland. You may be lucky and catch a ride as a deckmate or handyman on board?
Booking of comparatively cheap travels to Greenland, can normally not be done through your local travel agencies where you live, and can best be done through Danish travel agents.
The thing to do is to check Greenland Tourist's internet pages, and you will see or get faxed (upon request) a list of travel agencies doing all-inclusive packages as well as simple "a la carte" bookings.
Just a few of these travel agencies seem to be fully involved and seriously interested in Greenland travels.
You can also book directly with the travel agencies / "tourist offices" in the Greenland towns you'd like to visit - you'll find them on the internet - and they'll fix your air and ship tickets to and fro, too. Fax, phone and e-mail works very well to Greenland. No hitch.
Some veteran agencies with foreign origin very sympatethic to Greenland such as Elke Meissner's in Ilulissat since the 70ies can be warmly recommended. Others not to be excluded.
The cost of flying (cheapest rates) from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq (north at the west coast polar circle) or Narsarsuaq (in the south) is about 4500-5000 DKR return.
Internal return flights from Kangerlussuaq to -Ilulissat or Nuuk will come to about 3000 DKR. Roughly speaking a domestic 45 min -1 hr flight will come to about 1500 DKR one way.
Total air travel cost to an outlying city return from Denmark will thus be minimum 7-8000 DKR.
If you have the time for it, or not the money to fly, use the ships plying the Greenland west coast. This is a common and interesting form of local transport, which gives you free sightseeing as a bonus.
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