Why There’s No Place On This Planet Like Ilulissat
In an earlier post I wrote about why Greenland is off the radar for most tourists. In this post I’m drawing up a list of the most compelling reasons to plan a trip to Greenland – and to Ilulissat in particular, as I’ve only visited Ilulissat.
First up, Greenland has the lowest population density in the world. 55,984 residents divided by 836,297 square miles results in 0.07 residents per square mile. This statistic is 85.5 for the United States, about 306 for France, and a little over 1000 for India. It doesn’t get any sparser than this.
The ice sheet that covers Greenland is so huge that at its center, it’s two miles high – and creates its own weather system. The body of the ice sheet is so massive that it deforms our planet, suppressing the bedrock many thousand feet into the mantle. And its gravitational force influences the distribution of the oceans. To visit Greenland and see the ice sheet is to experience nature at its unbridled best – at a scale that you only see in documentaries on BBC or National Geographic.
The Ilulissat Icefjord (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is the largest glacier outside of Antarctica and when you visit Ilulissat you see massive icebergs floating right in front of you. Some of the icebergs tower as high as 300 feet above the surface of the ocean.
If you’re in Ilulissat in summer, you can experience the Midnight Sun as the sun does not set for about 2 months. And if you’re in Ilulissat in winter, in addition to seeing the northern lights, you get to experience the polar night for about 6 weeks.
If you travel for the food – Ilulissat will be an epic adventure for your taste buds. With strong influences from Canada and Denmark, delicacies like dried reindeer salami, musk ox burger, whale carpaccio are common at the restaurants.
Ilulissat has a population of 5000, and about just as many sled dogs. If you’re a dog lover, Ilulissat is no less than a dream destination. Originally from Siberia, the dogs are pure bred on the back of strict crossbreeding regulations. The dogs wail like wild wolves and can be heard just about everywhere in Ilulissat.
And my favorite reason – you won’t spot a tour guide waving a flag to lead a group of tourists, there is no hop-on hop-off bus, there is no night life, there are no queues to get inside attractions, hell – there are no attractions!
If you’ve been to Ilulissat and you can think of more compelling reasons to visit this village on the West coast of Greenland – do leave a comment.