Exploring Greenland

Aimee Weinstein on a berg in East Greenland
Body: 

Allow me to steal you away from your current environment and transport you momentarily to a place unlike any other you have been before. Insert nothing but the sound of wind, birds, crashing waves and icebergs floating by. Just imagine yourself sitting in East Greenland absorbing the smell of the ocean and the crisp cold wind on your face. Just take a moment and imagine. It will be good for your soul. Promise. 

Mobile phones, TV, Kardashians, notifications, alcohol, entertainment, gossip, the hustle, consumerism. We live in a world of chaos whilst Mother Nature gently surrounds us with her love and is a constant escape from the high paced world we apparently desire. Wouldn’t it be great to go back in time, just for a moment, move at a slower pace and just disconnect from it all? That is was what it felt like in East Greenland, visiting towns with populations of only 87 people, no Wi-Fi, crisp clean icebergs floating by.

When I first arrived in Greenland, I was horrified to learn that I would not have Wi-Fi. What would I do at night when I can’t check my e-mails, news or social media?  It was hard at first, but I quickly learned to let it all go. I stopped worrying about work and other people, and just focused on me and the here and the now. We stayed up chatting with locals, listening to stories from our wonderful guides, and reminiscing about the wonderful experiences we shared each day. I found my mind grew sharper, more present and creative; I wrote in my journal at night and I slept better than I ever had.

We spent three nights in town and four nights in a private eco-base camp. The two towns we stayed in were Tasiilaq and Kulusuk. With 2,000 inhabitants, Tasiilaq is the most populous community in East Greenland. With only one hotel in town, accommodations were moderate but clean and comfortable and the hospitality was top notch. Little Monopoly colored wood houses freckle the shoreline and large icebergs dot the sea. No roads lead in or out of town, so transportation is done primarily by boat, helicopter, and dog sledding.

We flew into Kulusuk from Iceland where we were transported to Tasiilaq by helicopter. Although the helicopter is just a regular form of public transportation in East Greenland, it’s hard to not be awestruck by the natural beauty of Greenland from above with its endless fjords and massive glaciers. In Tasiilaq we hiked though the “Valley of Flowers”, visited the local museum and even got to be transported back in time to experience what life was like in an old sod house.

We departed Tasiilaq to our base camp in the arctic wilderness by boat where like a scene right out of “Game of Thrones”; the steep towering mountainside opened its gates and allowed us entrance into the vast unknown. Soon we arrived at our basecamp and realized how spoiled we were going to be. Were we in the Arctic wilderness? Yes. But we each had our own spacious heated tents, accompanied with an en-suite bathroom and odorless dry toilet (an amazing invention since there is no plumbing), hot showers (in a separate bathhouse), a common room (to share stories) and a separate dining room/kitchen (where delicious meals were cooked up by Shelly our personal camp chef).

No matter the fitness level, there was always a lot of activities to fill our day and there were many options and alternative activities for every passenger. We spent our days hiking and kayaking but one popular activity was the speedy zodiac rides zipping by some of the largest icebergs on the planet. We landed on multiple shores and enjoyed lunch on beaches littered with iceberg stranded on the soft sand from the receding ocean tides. It doesn't quite seem right. Water crashing on the beach, whilst it navigates past giant pieces of ice which recently broke off from the glacier. 

One glorious afternoon traveling by zodiac we crossed paths with two humpback whales. We had already seen many whales during the trip at this point, but this time the water was still when the two whales disappeared. Quiet, with cameras drawn, the whales broke the surface just a couple of feet from our zodiac and they were heading right for us, I couldn’t contain myself. Down they went through the crystal-clear water where we saw them passing under our zodiac. These whales took a keen and unnatural interest in us. They circled us for a good 10 to 15 minutes before moving on.  I'm always amazed by Mother Nature. 

Not far from camp is the settlement of Tinit, a small fishing/hunting village with 87 inhabitants. We wandered along the tiny dirt roads of the village before being invited in to have tea with the mayor. He invited us to ask questions about life in Tinit. He told us that the biggest change he experienced was the move from living in sod houses to wood houses. The sod houses stood up to the wind much better than the modern wood ones. He also talked about the decline of hunting and the future in fishing. The town survived previously by hunting seals and polar bears. Now, it is not possible to continue this lifestyle with the decline of the sea ice and reduced quotas given each year for polar bear hunting.  With warming waters, they are now seeing an increase of cod in the area, this to them is the future.

Four nights at basecamp quickly passed and before we knew it we were whisked away by helicopter back to Kusuluk where we spent one more night in Greenland.

Being in Greenland was a dream come true! I have fallen head over heels in love with this country. An amazing winter wonderland filled with incredible sights and mind-blowing culture I never expected. Having had the opportunity to be a Greenland Pioneer and see this truly unique country is an absolute honor. Who knew we had such a secret gem so untouched left on our planet.  Thank you, beautiful Greenland, you will be forever ingrained in my memory.

Aimee Weinstein