Why Greenland Is Off the Tourist Grid
If there was a term as ‘un-tourist destination’, it would best fit Greenland. A part of me does not want to write about Greenland – because I don’t want Greenland to become the next tourist hotspot. But that’s not about to happen unless the Government of Greenland decided to splurge a lot of tax dollars on promoting the country internationally as a tourist destination.
Here are a few measures of how ‘not-well-connected’ Greenland is:
- From the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, there are all of 8 outbound flights of which only one is an international flight – to Reykjavik, Iceland
- From Kangerlussuaq, which is a key international transport hub in Greenland, there are 7 flights, of which only one is an international flight – to Copenhagen, Denmark
- There is no rail or road network connecting the towns in Greenland. To get from one town to the next – the options are: flight, boat, and in winter – dog sled.
If the accessibility was not daunting, the price one has to pay to land in Greenland does the trick to keep most tourists at bay. Ilulissat, which attracts the most tourists in Greenland every year, is connected to Copenhagen (with a stop at Kangerlussuaq). Copenhagen-Ilulissat-Copenhagen on Air Greenland, booked 4 months in advance, is for a little over 7200 DKK. Or if you flew Air Iceland which has a direct connection to Ilulissat from Reykjavik, the round trip (Reykjavik-Ilulissat-Reykjavik) – again booked 4 months in advance – is a little over €1400.
Your bank account can handle this punch? Well, it’s just the start. The real fun and games starts once you land in Greenland. Let’s assume you pick Ilulissat as your destination – as most other first-time visitors do. Kayaking in summer from 10 pm to 12 midnight is an activity that I would strongly recommend. I did this on my birthday. You’re not allowed to take a camera or even a mobile phone on the water, but the experience will be etched in your mind forever. At 69.2° N, and 220 miles north of the Arctic Circle, this is the land of the midnight sun. Kayaking at 11 pm – with the sun shining – making your way through traffic that takes the shape of icebergs all over the fjord – the experience is unparalleled. The 2 hour experience (with a professional and certified kayaking expert) costs 1540 DKK per person – which is about USD 225.
A 35-minute flight safari over the ice fjord costs 1795 DKK per passenger. For a totally epic experience, sign up for the ‘master explorer’ which is for 90 minutes – taking you to Eqi to see the calving glacier, the Greenlandic Tundra, the Isua glacier, moraine edge of Kangia, some wildlife – the cost – 4695 DKK per passenger.
Lastly – Hotel Arctic is the address to stay at in Ilulissat. It’s the world’s most northerly 4-star hotel with a 5 star conference center and our stay at this hotel was absolutely perfect. One night here in their most basic room starts at 2125 DKK.
These are some of the reasons why the world’s largest island (it’s not Australia!) continues to remain a dream destination for most – right up there with the likes of Baffin Island, Tibet, and Antarctica.