Destination Guide GREENLAND
GREENLAND THE UNDISCOVERED GEM OF THE ARCTIC
CONTENTS 4 6
5 Greenland Highlights Things to See Things to Do Tips For the Best Photos Cultural Context Know Before You Go Itineraries Packing Checklist
10 13 16 18 22 25
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Northeast Greenland National Park
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5 GREENLAND HIGHLIGHTS
ILULISSAT – A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE Home to the Ilulissat Icefjord, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, West Greenland offers an adventure-packed experience that might include photography, Zodiac cruising along magical icescapes, or a visit to the local community.
EPIC NORTHERN LIGHTS DISPLAYS This wondrous show of dancing lights can occur all year round in Greenland. If you’re traveling from August to April, it’s possible to experience Greenland’s Northern Lights from any corner of the country, but intensity is dependent on sunspot activity which follows an 11-year cycle.
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VIBRANT ARCTIC WILDLIFE Shaped culturally and geographically by the ice cap that dominates it, Greenland has a dramatically rugged landscape and a diverse selection of common species. It’s possible to glimpse: polar bears, muskoxen, sea eagles, fin, humpback and minke whales.
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES & KAYAKING Much of what Greenland has to offer can be experienced through hiking or kayaking, providing unique vantage points to enjoy it’s rich scenery—by land or by sea.
RICH THULE AND INUIT HISTORY & CULTURE At least six different Inuit cultures have survived over several centuries. As the last people to migrate to Greenland in the 9th century, the Thule have exerted great influence on Greenlandic culture.
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THINGS TO SEE
QUICK PHOTO TIPS
The natural phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, known as the Northern Lights, is created by electrically-charged particles from the sun. Local folklore spins fascinating stories of spirits playing games with human skulls as an alternate explanation. These enchanting lights illuminate Greenland with colors that vary from green, purple and red. The most dramatic displays are visible high amidst mountains and ice in autumn.
• Pack extra batteries and memory cards • Increase your lens aperture by setting the camera lens to the lowest f-stop possible • Use a tripod • Adjust the ISO • Practice with your camera settings well before and bring your manual
For more insight on how to photograph this natural phenomenon, turn to page 13.
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SEISMIC FJORD SYSTEMS
When you think of icescapes, you have probably never imagined anything like Ilulissat Icefjord, a 34 mile (55 km) long fjord. As the fastest moving glacier in the world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list. The icebergs that calve from this fjord are so enormous it is hard for the average person to even begin to fathom their size. These icebergs cannot leave the fjord until they break up into smaller icebergs; there is, quite literally an iceberg traffic jam. Ilulissat Icefjord calves up to 20 billion tons of icebergs each year!
Known locally as the Arctic Patagonia, the Tasermiut Fjord attracts climbers, kayakers and trekkers. As one of the most challenging big wall playgrounds in the world, the 44 mile (70 km) fjord is renowned for its superior rock faces. Did You Know? Because of Greenland’s many fjords, there are few connecting roads between towns. The local modes of transportation are by air, boat, car, snowmobile, and dog sled.
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NORTHEAST GREENLAND NATIONAL PARK
Northeast Greenland National Park is the largest park in the country.
At 375,000 square miles (603,504 km 2 ) it’s the largest national park anywhere in the world, covering the entire northeastern coastline of Greenland. Not only that, it’s bigger than most countries! Nobody lives in the National Park, aside from a few meteorological staff and members of a Danish Armed Forces surveillance unit. Other visitors must receive permission from Greenland’s Ministry of Nature and Environment.
Incredible Greenland vistas imprint themselves onto your mind
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There’s more to the world’s largest island than ice.
Nature reserves dot the island, which were established to protect breeding polar bears, beluga whales and narwhals. It’s also home to ringed seals and rare Arctic birds. Greenland National Park is home to many types of arctic wildlife, including up to 40 per cent of the world’s population of musk ox. It’s possible to glimpse polar bears, muskoxen, sea eagles, fin, humpback and minke whale.
A sled dog in Ittoqqortoormiit
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THINGS TO DO
A traditional and more intimate way to explore.
Greenland is known as the birthplace of the word “kayak”, so it’s not surprising that one of the most popular activities you’ll have the opportunity to participate in is kayaking. Traditional kayaks were made of drift wood, animal skin and bones. You can experience kayaking in Greenland by taking a more contemporary kayak out; professional guides will show you all the nooks and crannies of this wondrous land and steer you around immeasurable icebergs. A kayak demonstration will show Eskimo rolls amongst other tricks.
Feel an extreme nearness to nature as you kayak around massive fjords, gliding over crystal-clear waters along the rugged coastline that has been paddled by the Inuit for thousands of years. Hear the sounds of Greenland—the calls of seabirds, the crunch of the ice and sounds of the abundant wildlife—from the surface of the sea. Did You Know? There is a rich history of kayaking in Greenland, a cultural symbol of its people and its birthplace.
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HIKING & ZODIAC CRUISING
Many visitors to Greenland love to put on a pair of hiking boots and take an exhilarating walk.
Hiking is a great way to discover the immense windswept landscapes of Greenland and there are options for all levels of physical fitness. Expert guides will lead you on a hike through the tundra, which comes alive during the brief arctic summer, with bursts of color from shrubs and plants that eke out a living in this polar environment. Other hikers may enjoy walking along the spectacular coast. Zodiacs are used to transfer you ashore and for taking cruising amongst icebergs, whales and seabirds. Some remote and isolated sites are accessible only by Zodiac.
Taking the scenic route in Greenland
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Visitors to Greenland spend a great deal of time getting to know its terrestrial, aquatic and airborne residents, but one of the most spectacular sights is the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights. If you are fortunate enough to witness this fabled natural light show, capturing its full beauty in photographs can present an interesting challenge! Remember that the ISO capability is a critical factor for success. If you’re shooting JPEG files, use your menu options to turn on Long Exposure and High ISO Noise Reduction. Ideally, you’ll
shoot in RAW mode, in which case only Long Exposure Noise Reduction need be selected. Other essential pieces for Northern Lights photography are a good tripod, and if you’re really serious, an ultra-wide angle zoom lens. While photographing Northern Lights is a singular experience not to be missed, photographers will also appreciate shooting Greenland’s extraordinarily spectacular icescapes and fjords, and the unique sights of locals conducting their day-to-day activities.
From Northern Lights to the abundant tundra views— there’s no shortage of photo opportunities.
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TIPS FOR BEST PHOTOS
LOW-LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY The following tips are critically important when shooting vistas in lower light: • Use a higher shutter speed to reduce shake and motion blur in conditions with low light—even in the daytime! • For low-light photography, the lower the f-stop the better to let more light in. • Use a tripod for long exposures and to improve the sharpness of your photos. If you increase your ISO to 400, 800, 1600 and beyond, remember that you’re doubling the sensitivity to light and reducing the amount of time needed for a clear shot.
PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY A wide-angle (around 18 mm) lens captures a wider angle of view, so more of your subject’s surroundings will be included. A telephoto lens (over 70 mm) or fixed portrait lens (50 mm) will capture a more close up view of your subject for a sharper focus and slightly blurred background. WILDLIFE – WAIT AND WATCH Be quiet and ready with your camera to take a series of photos to capture the animals’ natural behavior and quick movement. A fast zoom lens is also nice for those animals that remain at a safe distance.
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“The trip more than met my expectations. The variety of events meant there was something for everybody and I for one came away with a whole new appreciation for Greenland, its people and culture.” – Mary Triplette, Quark passenger
A local Greenland vista
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HISTORY & CULTURE
Greenland, the world’s largest island, was originally settled by Norwegians over a 1,000 years ago, and became a Danish colony in 1814. A Home Rule government was established in 1979, and after a country-wide referendum, the Greenland Self Government was replaced by a Home Rule government in 2009. Visiting Greenlandic communities gives you an opportunity to discover what it might be like to live in the Far North. The Thule people arrived in Greenland around the 9th century AD and most modern Greenlandic Inuit are
their descendants of this ethnic group. The Inuit people who settled in the area have passed down their traditions of hunting, kayaking, dog sledding and handicraft-making for generations. The Greenlandic language is roughly divided into four dialects: South Greenlandic, East Greenlandic, West Greenlandic and the Thule dialect.
History remains alive today in the traditions of the people of Greenland.
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CRAFTS OF GREENLAND
When Denmark granted home rule to Greenland in 2008, it resulted in a change to the arts and crafts movement. Where artists had once tried to emulate European arts and crafts, they began to return to the traditional forms reflecting the national and ethnic characteristics of the island. Today, there are many brilliant artists and crafters in Greenland and visitors often have the opportunity to meet and interact with them. Carving is one of the local specialties, as reindeer antler or soapstone are transformed into traditional shapes and forms. One of the more interesting cultural icons is the Tupilak, a carved bone figure said to be endowed with a powerful mythical magic. Craftsmen also use musk ox and sheep wool, sealskin, mussel shells, soapstone and fish skin in their crafts.
Traditional Greenland Eskimo Dolls
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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
CURRENCY Greenland uses the Danish Krone (DKK). There are banks in all major towns, and in larger towns there may be a few places that accept foreign currency, but it is not common and the exchange rate is rarely favorable. CREDIT & DEBIT CARDS Credit cards can be used at many hotels, restaurants and shops, but we recommend you bring a small amount of Danish Krone with you to Greenland as some ATMs may not be in service on weekends or after banking hours.
SOUVENIRS To comply with Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) export regulations, souvenir shops will happily advise you on which items must stay in Greenland and which souvenirs can be yours to cherish forever. SHOPPING Most grocery goods are flown in by helicopter when the weather allows and are costly and hard to replenish on a timely basis. Therefore, we strongly suggest you refrain from purchasing basic food items, such as snacks and bottled water, so local residents won’t have to do without them.
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CONSERVING THE FRAGILE ENVIRONMENT
Visit the most remote places on earth and enjoy the trip in greater comfort and safety than trailblazing Arctic explorers could have imagined. At Quark Expeditions®, we take the conservation and protection of the natural and cultural environments we visit seriously, and we know you’ll do the same when you travel with us. Conservation is a central theme in our on-board education programs, each led by professionals in their respective fields. Many travelers return from their Greenlandic adventure with an enhanced sensitivity to the issues of polar conservation.
• Avoiding disturbing wildlife and its habitats • Respecting archaeological and historical remains • Respecting the sensibilities of local people • Observing wilderness etiquette As a member of the Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), we observe guidelines aimed at preventing adverse impacts from our visits by doing the following:
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“It is truly a place that needs to be seen to be believed.” –Bridget de Klerk, Quark Traveler
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A fleet of icebergs in eastern Greenland
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THREE ARCTIC ISLANDS: ICELAND, GREENLAND, SPITSBERGEN 13 days This award-winning expedition takes you to fascinating destinations where iconic Arctic animals such as the polar bear, musk ox, reindeer, and walrus are commonly seen. To witnessing active volcanoes to massive glaciers to the best sites for wildlife spotting, venture to these Three Arctic Islands.
GREENLAND EXPLORER: VALLEYS AND FJORDS 15 days
Explore places from the Norse and Viking eras, experience the Ilulissat Icefjord—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and visit two Greenland communities, encountering an ancient culture surviving in a modern world.
Prins Christian Sund
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WEST GREENLAND: DISKO BAY 10 days With imposing glaciers, inspiring moutains, dramatic fjords and volcanic rock formations, this region is a premuim place for photographers. Visit traditional villages, their brightly colored wooden houses dotting the coastline. Vast stretches of unspoiled wilderness await modern-day adventurers here, home to some of the best whale- watching in the country.
ARCTIC EXPRESS: GREENLAND’S NORTHERN LIGHTS 10 days For time-constrained travelers, the benefits of our Arctic Express Fly/Cruise voyages are many. You’ll witness the delights of the world’s largest fjord system of iceberg-choked Scoresbysund, discover the fascinating Inuit settlements and people of Ittoqqortoormiit, and have the possibility of viewing some of the world’s most vivid displays of the Northern Lights.
King Oscar Fjord
Ilulissat Eqip Sermia Uummannaq
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NORTHWEST PASSAGE: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FRANKLIN 17 days
NORTHWEST PASSAGE: EPIC HIGH ARCTIC 13 days
Winding your way through the icy channels of the legendary Northwest Passage is like one big history lesson, as you learn about the geopolitical and environmental aspects of the route, retracing the steps of legendary British explorer Sir John Franklin and his lost crew. Interact with remote communities in Canada and Greenland, reaching waters few have sailed.
On this new 17-day voyage, journey back in time to the height of Arctic exploration, navigating the waters and visiting the sites that were key to the discovery of the Northwest Passage – eyes peeled for polar bears, walrus, muskoxen and more. This quintessential Arctic adventure stops at many traditional Greenland and Canadian communities, plus Ilulissat Icefjord.
Sam Ford Fjord
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The world’s largest island teems with life, welcoming you into its breathtaking scenery. East Greenland is vast and remote, very sparsely inhabited and stunning in its austere beauty, while West Greenland has more indiginous communites and varied wildlife. Both have incredible histories.
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Getting to Greenland is easy if you travel with Quark Expeditions®. Travel through a major international gateway from Europe or Canada, en route to your embarkation point. Each of our popular Fly/Cruise Greenland expeditions begin with an overnight stay in Reykjavik, Iceland. Rich with history, culture and architecture, it’s a city with a variety of sightseeing and activity options for the adventurous at heart. As you plan travel to your embarkation point, we recommend direct flights whenever possible. These are typically subject to fewer delays and cancellations, and there is no risk of missing a connecting flight and jeopardizing your departure.
There are frequent scheduled flights to Longyearbyen, Svalbard from Oslo and Tromso, and Reykjavik (Iceland) has numerous trans Atlantic flight options from both Europe and North America. If you embark or disembark from Constable Point or Kangerlussuak, Greenland, Quark can happily arrange charter flights to and from your arrival airport for you. Contact a Quark Polar Travel Adviser at 1.844.921.4835 to help you plan your trip to Greenland or visit QuarkExpeditions.com.
Consult your local embassy or consulate if you need a visa. If so, make sure you submit your paperwork with enough time to spare.
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GET READY FOR YOUR TRIP! The time has come to gear up for your expedition! Still need tips on what to pack? Here’s a handy checklist to help you remember everything you might need.
TO WEAR ON LANDINGS Base layers (wool or synthetic) Mid-layer warm/fleece top Mid-layer warm/fleece pant Wool and synthetic socks (3 to 4 pairs) Glove liners Neck warmer or balaclava Warm hat that covers ears Waterproof pants Waterproof gloves Sunscreen Sunglasses with UV protection
LIST OF SUGGESTED ITEMS Waterproof, lightweight backpack or dry sack Swimsuit (for the polar plunge!) Binoculars Camera with extra batteries Extra memory cards Earplugs (in case of noisy cabinmates) Eye masks for sleeping Seasickness, indigestion, headache or other medicine Voltage adapters ON BOARD Comfortable casual clothing (pants/jeans, shirts, sweaters) Lighter shirts (in case the ship gets warm) Comfortable shoes (without heels)
To help you get ready for your trip, visit the Quark Expeditions® online Polar Boutique
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