Greenland: must see attractions
Translated from the Danish, the word Greenland literally means green country. The island got its name thanks to Erik Thorvaldsson who explored the West Coast and, reportedly, found shelter in an oasis of lush vegetation. Of course, it was nothing more but just a beautiful legend compiled in order to lure Scandinavians from Iceland. From birds’ eye view an island looks as a huge block of snow with cities scattered mainly along west coast. A pioneer’s name is familiar to everybody even now: every pub serves beer called Erik the Red. Our discoveries session starts in the capital of Danish colony, the city of Nuuk.
The world’s tiniest capital is located at the end of the Nuup Kangerlua fjord and decorated with numerous colourfully painted wooden cottages. So, drinking coffee on the balcony, adventurous tourists can enjoy the view of ice floes floating out in the cold sea, and, if lucky, notice the friendly wave of a whale's tail. Due to the small number of local residents (16000 people only), they heartily welcome guests in Nuuk. Travellers, in their turn, will not be mistaken if they visit the city from May to August, to be delighted by white nights. Local people (Inuit) respect their history, and invite to learn it in the National Museum which is located in the old quarter.
It features a collection which highlights every side of the city life: clothes for young and old, tableware, a collection of transport means. Greenlanders used to choose design and fur for the clothes with a special approach, depending on season and gender. Cars are not very popular in the snowy expanses, preferences are boats, kayaks and dog sledding. Immediately, without leaving Kolonihavnen, the old colonial harbour of Nuuk, one can enter the fairy tale and visit Santa Claus House. Here, everything is arranged in the best traditions of magic: you can sit on the lap of the main Christmas character and tell him about the best gift in the world, eat sweets, see with your own eyes how the post office operates, make friends with the elves. Culturally, Nuuk also has a lot to offer, so before go on with conquering the island, stop there and admire architecture: the university, the church and the art museum.
Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis
Greenland has a monopoly for dramatic Northern Lights and polar mirages shaped as a sailboat or a city. Fabulous flashes of light can be seen in many countries of the North, but the most vivid lights can be enjoyed only in the vast of the "green country". It remains only to decide where to contemplate the miracle: within the city, or in the bed of wildlife during a cruise-ship tour. "The greatest light show" keeps its secrets: south and west of the island give better views, and winter months are famous for clarity of nights. Myths are present there: Greenlanders credited the Northern Lights to the football game of the gods. Admiring the magnificent scenery of the sky, dazzled by the magic of the aurora borealis, give free rein to your imagination and come up with your own legend.
Go to the south of the island to select a personal hot bath and warm your bones. Thermal waters are spread out across the area of Greenland, but the ideal temperature for swimming is on the island of Uunartoq. In winter the temperature does not drop below 38 degrees C, drifting ice floes remind that we are visiting vast swaths of beautiful, unfenced wilderness. Only modest wooden changing rooms vaguely hint on civilization. Did you know that sea ice differs by age, origin and shape? Ask your spa treatments neighbour. Probably, he is a local hunter or sailor who will gladly reveal the secrets.
The National Park is not inferior to the glory of the island in respect of size. Since the Palaeozoic times, the park area is nearly the combined size of France and Great Britain and includes the entire north eastern part of Greenland. The UNESCO has recently proclaimed it as Man and Biosphere Reserve and limited admission for ordinary tourists.
Obtaining of visit permission is worth every penny. The snow-white icy desert meets with the majestic gates of bluish icebergs, crystal ice glaciers and the longest fjord in the world Scoresby Sound. The fauna in these areas matches the nature: polar bears, walruses, reindeer and musk oxen survive in the extreme cold conditions. Flora is lucky in summer: bright sun brings tenderness for orchids, poppies and short trees growing on the banks of the fjords. The National Park gathered together all the treasures Greenland is famous for.
The Inuit people skilfully took advantage of the gifts of nature and invite you to the backstage. Go on dogsled trip: Huskies have been waiting to whisk you over truly magnificent mountain capes and glaciers or through some of the planet's most spectacular fjords around Tasiilaq and Disco islands. Disko Island is a destination of the must see program thanks to the mighty glacier more than five kilometres long. Be a passenger, drive a dogsled, participate in races, explore the mainland and become a part of the unique nature! After changing the land for the water, take part in a marine safari and meet killer whales, belugas and blue whales. Excursions on kayaks to the lakes and sea fishing promise adrenaline and chance to experience raw power of nature. World-beating hunting tours are allowed in compliance with strict regulations. Who else if not residents of ice area can tell you about the fishing craft.
Festivals are celebrated both in cities and Arctic expanses. Polar night celebration is observed in January or February with rather extreme skiing race. March is marked with the international festival of snow sculptures and unique golf competitions on ice. July is highlighted by the day of music and arts, and the middle of the month is officially celebrated with the rhythm of drums, theatre and folk singing during Asivik festival. Would you like to stay on the island for the whole summer? You have to be very decisive for such a change.
American painter and writer Rockwell Kent lived in the country between two oceans for several years and expressed his admiration in his original diaries Greenland Journal. But instead of reading thousands of words, go above the Arctic Circle and step on the ground almost untouched by human hand.
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Main photo www.naturalworldsafaris.com